Monday 22 April 2019

Klopp warns Henderson to expect player rotation in title push

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

Jamie Holland

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told his players - including captain Jordan Henderson - that they cannot expect to play every match in the Premier League run-in.

The Reds boss was forced to play down claims of a fall-out after the pair did not shake hands - a misunderstanding according to Klopp - when the England midfielder was substituted in last Sunday's 0-0 draw at Manchester United. Henderson started the midweek win over Watford on the bench.

"They accept it, but I don't think they are happy," said Klopp of his rotation policy. "Hendo played a lot of games this season and then had had an injury here and there. 'Milly' (James Milner) had the same, 'Gini' (Wijnaldum) had them, Naby (Keita) - they all had their problems.

"The most important thing is how will it fit for the next opponent? That's the first thing I think about.

"Then if more things than one could fit, then you start thinking about who may need a rest or whatever, or who is a little bit better in this, or this.

"Hendo has played a really good season. I told him. He looked like he was not happy (at Old Trafford), but (he was) completely OK.

"I don't tell players before the game that they will not play. I don't walk through the dressing room and say, 'You don't play, you don't play'.

"You see that on the training ground, and as a player of Liverpool you know that you don't play all the games. It's a normal situation."

Liverpool will head to Goodison Park tomorrow with memories of their added-time victory over Everton at Anfield last December still fresh in the mind.

The first Merseyside derby of the season was memorable for Jordan Pickford's error that gifted Divock Origi a last-gasp winner and Klopp's 40-yard run on to the pitch to celebrate with goalkeeper Alisson Becker which earned the Reds boss an £8,000 fine.

"We all know my celebration. I will not do it again, but what happened that day was very surprising," said Klopp.

"(Everyone thought) the ball was out, 'Virg' (Virgil van Dijk) already turned (away) after his wonderful volley, but 'Div' stayed awake and scored that goal.

"It was a very special moment, but it's not the time, two days before the game, to say we want something like that again."

The defeat sent Everton's results into a downward spiral to the extent there is a 33-point gap between them and their neighbours.

Everton fans would love nothing more than to put a huge dent in Liverpool's title aspirations.

"Of course the fans of Everton don't want us to win anything, and our fans are the same with them. It's only very emotional, very passionate and for me that's how football should be," said Klopp.

"I am not sure if it is possible to be more motivated than they were and we were that day! Of course the game was special.

"We know it will be really tough. At Goodison they really support their team, so now let's go there and use that atmosphere.

"It will be loud, it will be wild, it will be everything, and we have to deliver that on the pitch as well."

Klopp, who is unbeaten in Merseyside derbies since arriving at Liverpool in 2015, has always relished these sort of games. He spent seven years at Mainz, where Eintracht Frankfurt were their main rivals, and then seven years at Borussia Dortmund, facing Schalke.

However, he insisted: "It's not my enemy. How could it be? Schalke was not my enemy when I left Dortmund. But I understood 100pc what it means to the people because I had my derby when I was 10 years old and played against the village next to us.

"We went to the same school and the next bus. You want to win that game so desperately. That's sport. I understand that but I don't live that.

"If I see an Evertonian in a blue shirt I don't think, 'Oh, you…whatever…'

"It's a free world and you can decide who to support for whatever reason. In the games, I know that we are the ones who have to do it for the people. They cannot win in the office, this game. We have to do it on the pitch."

Everton manager Marco Silva, who beat Liverpool during his time as manager of Hull, said he had no intention of using Klopp's celebration in his team talk tomorrow.

"We do not need that type of thing to motivate our players," he said. "Our motivation comes from ourselves."

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