Sunday 24 February 2019

Dalglish does not fear Klopp 'cracking up'

'City might think they're stronger - but it's not a weightlifting contest,' insists club legend as Reds bid to return to summit

Seeing Red: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaks with match officials after their draw against West Ham. They have the chance to return to the top of the table today against Bournemouth. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley
Seeing Red: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaks with match officials after their draw against West Ham. They have the chance to return to the top of the table today against Bournemouth. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish says Manchester City are wasting their time engaging in a "psychological war" for the title and believes Jurgen Klopp has the perfect temperament for the fight.

Dalglish, now a club director, was at his sardonic best, fixing his gaze on what he considered City's transparent attempts to ramp up the pressure on Klopp.

Asked if he thought the champions were above trying to use PR tricks to undermine the Liverpool challenge, Dalglish replied: "I don't know about that. I saw one yesterday. It was a Man City boy about how they're stronger. Well, it's not a weightlifting contest, is it?

"Pep said he would rather be in our position and you say there's no psychology going on? Don't listen to them, they aren't in our position, we're in our position. Our destiny lies in our hands.

"You get the usual stuff coming towards the end of the season like the psychological warfare. If you support a team you see it one way and the opposition team try to throw a spanner in there. They can try all the psychology they want.

"It's only what happens on the pitch that is going to count eventually. We are where we are because of what we did together on the pitch and in the stadium. We've done most things right this year and if we continue to do most things right, we will be very happy."

City supporters sang, "Jurgen's cracking up" after their team's victory at Goodison Park in midweek, prompting another wry observation from Dalglish about claims the Liverpool manager is showing signs of nervousness. "He must be up for an Academy Award as well, then, because I've not seen it.

"When are the Oscars?" Dalglish said.

"For us, Jurgen is the best person that could possibly be there. There's no problem with nerves. I think it's normal to feel nervous. It's anticipation. We shouldn't be embarrassed to be sitting up there. Fear the worst? What's the worst? The worst is relegation, I would imagine.

"I don't care what stage of the season it is, if you are concentrating on playing a game, you are going to be a bit nervous. Nerves are part and parcel of football. They aren't something you should worry about.

"It's been 29 years since we won a league title. That's a generation and a half nearly, - a long wait. If the supporters are a wee bit nervous, then you can understand it, but that doesn't stop them cheering the boys on.

People might be nervous but I was nervous at the start of the season, so I don't know what nerves has got to do with it."

With nine English league titles as a player or manager, Dalglish's wisdom could be invaluable should Klopp need it. Yet he is not expecting any phone calls.

"I think he's well educated. I don't think he needs anyone to tell him about the expectations of Liverpool because they probably match his expectations of himself," Dalglish said.

"If someone asks anything when you're sitting having a cup of tea with them, you're going to make an answer.

"But I'm a dinosaur. He's not going to come and ask me. I don't think I'd be fit (to play) anyway."

Ahead of today's visit of Bournemouth (3.0), Klopp also shrugged off claims that recent Liverpool draws are a sign of tension.

"When I talked to the referee after the (West Ham) game, they say, 'Now he is nervous'. I am not," Klopp said.

"I knew this would be a really tough race and here we are. Make yourself ready. Fasten the seat-belts and let's go.

"The funny thing about that is I didn't read it, I didn't watch it and I still know it," he said.

"You feel it, with the questions you get asked, the messages I get even from friends. Something obviously changed in their view. I got a message this week, another sign that people think I need help - I don't need help, thank you very much, I'm fine - that in the last 10 games City dropped 12 points and we dropped seven. I didn't know that.

"Is it interesting for me? Not really, but the view from outside is completely different.

"Then it was (a message saying) something that City lost three outside the top six teams, we drew twice. That's the world outside, and we live in that world."

Klopp has had to field weekly questions about the title race and how they handle the pressure but now it is about how they react.

He has always delivered the same message of indifference to what was being said outside the club and going behind City on goal difference has not affected that.

"It's normal. It was kind of predictable," he added.

"Obviously it is getting exciting now, eh? It was always clear that would happen.

"I don't think anybody thought we would be top of the league, 12 points clear with three games to go at the end of April.

"If you want to be top of the table and a champion at the end of the season you have to show real passion, real desire, you have to fight.

"The only tool we really have to sort our situation is football, passion, a proper fight, being aggressive in the most legal way. Be hard, put your foot in."

After a nervy 1-1 draw with Leicester last time out at Anfield Klopp urged fans to keep faith and back the team.

"It was always clear there would be games where you really have to keep your nerve, everybody: in the stand and on the pitch," he said.

"The good thing is we all know the job we have to do. I don't have the English saying, but it's like shouting your soul on the pitch, that's how we say it in Germany.

"We have 15-plus games left, that's the decisive third of the season. We have created the basis for this finish, a very good basis."

On Friday Liverpool announced pre-tax profits of £125m (€143m) (£106m after tax), a world record for a football club, for the year ending May 2018.

Within that accounting period were £190m worth of signings, offset by £137m of sales, but after a further £170m was spent last summer Klopp cautioned against another major spree this year.

"I'm not a massive numbers guy, but Mike Gordon (president of club owners Fenway Sports Group) didn't jump on me this morning and say, 'The numbers are fantastic, come on let's go and spend all the money!'" said the manager.

"It was always clear we had to change things for the better. We built a really strong squad but it's a squad built for the future and not only this season.

"That's fine, I hope we don't need too much money in the next years, because if you have the right players in, work with them." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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