Jurgen Klopp: It is OK for Liverpool players to be angry with me if they are not in the starting XI
Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, is expecting some angry players knocking on his door this season.
As Klopp settles on his favoured starting XI for next weekend’s Premier League opener at Watford, high profile names are sweating on places.
Klopp’s selection against Bayern Munich in midweek demonstrated that when he has a fully fit squad his midfield and attacking options are plentiful. Adam Lallana, Gini Wijnaldum and Daniel Sturridge all started on the bench against Bayern in the Allianz Arena.
“If we stay together like this there will be a few hard decisions because they can’t start all together,” said Klopp.
“Then we have to see how this works. Be angry at me no problem, stay confident, that is important, then three days there is another game so be there again. There are a lot of challenges.
“The plan is that they all make the next step, and it is about how we react when it doesn’t work in our direction. That’s when it is more difficult. If you lose a game, then lose another game then it is ‘are we still strong?’ or ‘we are shaky’. I said we always want to develop this team, and there are two things to do - signings and training. So we did both. The signings are nice, either they play or they push another player. Now it’s more difficult to play all the time.”
Klopp believes performances so far have underlined the importance of continuity in his squad as players become more acquainted with his methods. He wants to create a system where the style does not radically change depending on how much he rotates – something that proved impossible last season.
It is also a key reason why there was no way he would countenance the loss of first-team players such as Philippe Coutinho.
“We need to be independent of one or two players,” he said. “We still have to have a style, a way of playing and, if we need to, play completely different. So far the pre-season is pretty good.
“We want to build on the same base as last year - and that does mean the base of the new stand. Everybody thought ‘he’s going, he’s going, he’s going’ but so far nobody is going. That’s all.”
As well as Coutinho being the subject of a rejected bid from Barcelona, Emre Can’s long-term future is in doubt. The German midfielder has only a year left on his deal and it is yet to be resolved.
“We are in talks. I speak to him every day, not about the contract but I speak to him,” said Klopp. “From my point of view everything is fine at the moment.”
Although Klopp’s determination to keep the squad together is evident, tellingly he said he wants to create a situation where – should players depart in the future – the impact is not destabilising. He cited his experience at Borussia Dortmund.
“I have a wonderful relationship with [Robert] Lewandowski even though he left, [Mats] Hummels left when I was not there but we have wonderful relationships,” he said.
“Yes we are building something but building something should be independent of this or this. That’s no message, that’s how it is. When we became champions and won the double we lost Nuri Sahin. It’s not that the world ends afterward.
“Everyone thought: ‘Oh my God!' Then we got [Ilkay] Gundogan. Did we know he was as good as Nuri? No. We hoped it and it worked out. That’s how things happen.”
As with Dortmund, Klopp is also developing talent with youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold maturing at a rapid rate and most likely to start the campaign at right back.
But Klopp is wary of making too many comparisons between his time in the Bundesliga and the current rate of progress at Anfield.
“I would love that history always happens like this. This club should not be compared to anything,” he said.
“You know and I know there is nothing like Liverpool. We know what we see in the players and we know what we have to do. We need to make sure it works much more often than it doesn’t work.”