Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool are on the right track despite stuttering start to the season
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists that he has taken the club forward over the course of his two-year reign at Anfield after hitting back at claims that progress has not been speedy enough during his tenure.
With Liverpool's Premier League title challenge already over for another season, and progress in the Champions League hinging on next week's game against Spartak Moscow at Anfield, some critics have questioned Klopp's impact since he moved to English football in October 2015.
Yet the German has insisted that his side is on track despite a stuttering start to the season ahead of his side's Premier League trip to Stoke on Wednesday night.
“Yes, we’ve made progress 100 per-cent,” he declared, after criticism came his way following his team selection and tactical decisions in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea.
“We’ve been more patient in the right way in specific games. Last year we had really, really good performances (against the top teams), but now we are in a new season and we feel in a really good way.
“We feel on a good way. Chelsea are an unbelievably difficult team to play, we played them in a completely different manner. We dominated them. That’s fantastic. We didn’t win, but I still feel we are in a good way.
“This is now a really decisive period of the season. We need to be spot on. We have to show that we’re on a good way until at least the end of January, in a really important part of the season. My feeling is we are.
“I have faith in all the boys and it was important for me that the boys showed they are 100 per-cent ready.”
Klopp also gave a strong hint that Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino could return to his team for the trip to Stoke, as he explained why they were surprisingly omitted for the Chelsea game on Saturday.
“We do not rest people, we use our players,” stated Klopp. “That was not the reason for the team (against Chelsea). It was that we needed fresh legs.
“It made sense at this part of the season to use the strength of the squad. It’s not completely unlikely they will start.”
When asked whether Mane and Firmino will return to his line-up against Stoke, he responded: “It’s not completely unlikely they will start.”
Klopp also confirmed that midfielder Emre Can is fit to return to his squad for the Stoke game, but Dejan Lovren remains an injury doubt after missing the Chelsea game at the weekend.