Wednesday 21 March 2018

Keeping players 'happy' not a priority for Klopp in juggling act

"They are buying into it. Nobody told me anything different," insisted Klopp. "If you want to be part of a really good football club you need to respect there are a lot of other really good players. Photo: Getty

Chris Bascombe

The sight of an expensive signing sitting in Anfield's Main Stand will become commonplace for the rest of Jurgen Klopp's reign.

Virgil Van Dijk was a £75m spectator as Liverpool completed a 2-1 comeback win over Leicester, but the combined cost of those who must adjust to a watching brief eclipses his world record fee.

For an assortment of reasons, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne, Simon Mignolet, Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke joined Van Dijk as a VIP viewer.

And, with Gini Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain having to settle for substitute appearances, Klopp will be able to consider two starting XIs when everybody is fit.

Van Dijk's arrival will inevitably demote Joel Matip or Dejan Lovren. For the manager it is a necessary luxury, but there is potential for repeated knocks on his door if disillusionment festers among the supporting cast.

"They are buying into it. Nobody told me anything different," insisted Klopp. "If you want to be part of a really good football club you need to respect there are a lot of other really good players.

"We are professionals. My job is not to keep them all happy. I can't do that every day. But I can as often as they let me do it. It's all about performing. If you perform it's not guaranteed you will play the next game.

"Gini Wijnaldum played a fantastic game in the last game, Oxlade-Chamberlain too. Solanke was really strong. They are all happy in the moment because they are part of a really strong squad.

"The players know it's difficult to play all the games. If you ask them it is 'yes, I'm ready', but they aren't all the time."

The transfer window opening offers a clearer hint as to who is truly embracing the evolution of Liverpool's squad and prospects.

Sturridge, for example, is less inclined to spend so much time on the bench. Mignolet is not keen on rotation either.

But just 48 hours after a hard-fought victory more satisfying than the hammerings Klopp's side has dished out, the trip to Burnley re-emphasises why Liverpool need so many stars.

Klopp does not want to be in Burnley on New Year's Day - and not because Sean Dyche's side are opponents who have troubled Liverpool previously.

Klopp despairs of the timing. Initial bemusement at two games in 48 hours turned to anger last year and now manifests itself in incredulity. To him, the fixture is contaminated given the concessions he must make in his line-up.

It seems unlikely that Mo Salah, who limped off after another brilliant double that took his tally to 23 for the season, will be risked at Turf Moor.

"It's really unfair to compare the Burnley game two days after Leicester," said Klopp.

"We have to make sure we're with a proper line-up and of course we want to win there. If you do then it's good but if you don't then everything is s***? It makes absolutely no sense."

Rather than travelling a day early, Liverpool will head to Burnley this morning to avoid the noise of New Year's Eve hotel parties.

They will do so buoyed by the increasing possibility that a top-four pursuit will become a push for second place.

Jamie Vardy's early goal gave Liverpool the chance to concede first and win for the first time this season. Where once there was a stifling anxiety when chasing a game, here there was belligerence with brilliance.

Leicester were granted the respect they deserved - they were mostly excellent, too - succumbing only to Salah's rare qualities.

"A year ago we would've conceded three so it was really good to see that we were absolutely spot on. All of them were aggressive in a very legal way," said Klopp.

Liverpool's strengths are far exceeding their flaws and the addition of the brawn they displayed with their beauty will be required again.

"The job now is to get ready for another football war in Burnley," said Klopp. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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