Monday 19 March 2018

Liverpool watched defenders '500 million times' but decided to go without, says Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA Wire
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA Wire

Chris Bascombe

Jurgen Klopp says his trust in his under-fire defence is not misplaced as the Liverpool manager again rejected claims he should have done more to sign a centre-back over the summer.

Klopp has come under criticism for what was dubbed his ‘Virgin van Dijk or no-one’ policy regarding a new central defender, Southampton’s refusal to deal with Liverpool ensuring Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip remain his favoured options.

Klopp says numerous targets were watched and discarded because they are not better than those at the club.

“We watched all of them 500 million times and, to cool the people down, what if the new player doesn’t hit the first ball and he makes exactly the same mistake?” said Klopp.

“A mistake they all made in their life? It is like: ‘He is a £65million signing, he will improve’.

“Why do you think the other one cannot improve? I don’t understand that.

“We want to make right decisions. A big part of football and life is really put faith in the people you work with – trust them – because they all can improve. They all can. They are all good out there. I had to make a decision and the decision was our boys are not worse than them.”

Lovren has come in for particular criticism, prompting Klopp to respond: “With all the history before I came in and since I've been here with how people talk about these players, you really should try one time to go out there and ask other clubs what they think about these defenders and whether they would like to pick them. You would be really surprised.

“I'd give them all the advice: don't read anything. But with the world of social media that's quite difficult for the boys. They all know what people think and say in this moment. Two people say you're good and you think 'okay', five people say you are bad and it feels like a stitch.

“Dejan is not 18 any more. He's a man, he's a father of two kids. He can deal with it.

“I believe in trust. I trust people until they give me an opportunity or a possibility not to trust them anymore. That's how I understand life. My job is really to get the best out of these boys.”

Liverpool’s coach is evidently irritated that the praise for his team’s excellence in attack – the team is unrecognisable offensively from that which he took over – is overshadowed by the gripes with back four issues pre-dating his arrival at Anfield.

However, Liverpool have lost just two of their last 19 games ahead of the visit of Burnley to Anfield on Saturday.

“After the (Sevilla) game again we talk not enough about all the positive things,” said Klopp.

“Two goals we conceded, that was not good. But the rest was real Champions League football against a real strong side.

“Games so far, 80 per cent positive, 20 per cent could be better.”

Klopp will test the strength in depth of his squad against Burnley this weekend as he makes changes. With Sadio Mane suspended, Philippe Coutinho is in line for his first start of the season.

Irish Independent

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