Saturday 17 August 2019

Jurgen Klopp urges his players to channel their 'inner Rocky Balboa' to land silverware

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Reuters

Tim Nash

Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to channel their inner Rocky IV to produce two more knockout blows.

Liverpool provided one of football's biggest shocks on Tuesday night with their momentous 4-0 victory over Barcelona after trailing 3-0 in the Champions League semi-final.

Now they must somehow try to repeat it by beating Wolves tomorrow and hoping leaders Manchester City – who are a point ahead of them – slip up at Brighton to clinch the club's first Premier League title, and end a 29-year wait for them to be champions. Then Tottenham stand in the way of them winning the Champions League final.

Reds manager Klopp was willing to compare the toe-to-toe title race with City to the brutal and bloody battle won by boxing movies' most famous underdog.

In Sylvester Stallone's blockbuster, Rocky Bilbao somehow triumphed against Soviet giant Ivan Drago, who had fatally beat Rocky's friend Apollo Creed in the ring.

"Rocky IV, it was always Rocky IV," said Klopp when asked which Rocky he would be. "All the others are Ivan Drago. It has been a slug?

"We are not there. So far we're very positive, much more positive than many people thought.

"It is all good but it is not perfect. To be perfect we have to play two more games. Performance-wise of course we can do better, in a lot of moments."

After nearly four years in charge, Klopp is still to win a trophy with Liverpool. Until now, the consistency needed to be champions has eluded his team.

But he believes the stellar, performances required to win silverware are becoming more regular, and can be sustained for years to come.

"We saw Chelsea and Arsenal...what's the difference between us? Twenty points or so," he said.

"That's not the difference really but we've been so consistent, that's the difference.

"We have to stay consistent for the last two games and the next few years. That is another challenge for us but one we are going to face.

"Last Tuesday was like the icing on the cake so far. Wow. That's exactly the picture we want to draw for the outside world – this is Liverpool.

"It's possible in this club and in this city with the people around

"A moment like this is worth more than silverware. If you struggle in a game, they hit the post and the bar but you win it, that's good for saying 'that year we won it and oh, we were lucky'. It's a nice story but it doesn't help with development.

"The job is to develop so it gets more and more likely that you win silverware. That's what we've done.

"Now we go to a final and we'll learn from the past few years and see what we can do there.

"Sunday is our last Premier League game; if we can win it, it's not in our hands what we get, but it doesn't make our season less good. It's just a different finish."

City coach Pep Guardiola has suggested Liverpool have had an easier ride because there is less pressure on them.

Klopp admits: "All respect for City for what they've done this season," he added. "I don't know who had more pressure or whatever, both delivered and here we are.

"It didn't feel too easy to be honest but we didn't feel the pressure too much.

"We decided to see it as an opportunity to win the games. Regarding being in the lead, unfortunately I have not been in the lead too often in my life that I could talk about it."

Liverpool expect to have Jordan Henderson and Mo Salah available following knocks after missing the Barcelona game, plus Andy Robertson, who came off at half-time.

Independent News Service

The Throw-In All-Ireland Hurling Final preview: Can Tipp's firepower edge clash with the Cats?

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport