Saturday 21 April 2018

Sadio Mane boost for Reds as Klopp warns Liverpool 'have to get results' to end dismal away run

Jurgen Klopp and Sadio Mane. Photo: Getty
Jurgen Klopp and Sadio Mane. Photo: Getty
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Mark Critchley

With just over a quarter of the season gone, Liverpool have already played seven of the other nine teams in the top half of the Premier League table.

Of that seven, they beat Arsenal, drew against four of the others and lost heavily away to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Can Jurgen Klopp claim to have been dealt a tough hand by the fixture computer?

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but those meetings with Watford, Burnley and Newcastle United look a little more difficult now than they did before the start of the campaign, especially since two of those sides have frustrated other members of last season's top six.

Whichever way you cut it though, his players should have taken more than 16 points at this stage of the season.

A trip to an out-of-sorts West Ham United is on the agenda this weekend and 19 points from 11 would certainly sound a little, if not a lot, healthier.

Klopp did not want to make any direct demands of his players at his pre-match press conference yesterday, but ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea hosting Manchester United and fifth-placed Arsenal travelling to Manchester City, he knows Liverpool have the chance to pick up three points and gain ground on their rivals.

"I think that would sound kind of disrespectful to be honest, to say, 'Now we have to win'," the Liverpool manager said.

"I think apart from the Tottenham game and Manchester City for different reasons, each game we played we had a chance. It was maybe more than us.

"Absolutely we have no time to waste any more, that's 100 per cent. The season fits between it.

"People don't remember that a player was bad four weeks ago, but they don't remember we were good at the start without having the results. Now we have to get results, that's how it is."

A drastic improvement in Liverpool's away form would help Klopp's cause most of all.

Though his side are unbeaten at Anfield and have conceded just once there in the league so far, they have only one win on the road in five.

The 15 goals conceded as visitors is currently the most of any team in the top flight.

"I don't make a difference between (home and away form)," Klopp (right) said.

"I'm happy we can have this record at home. Of course, if you want to be really successful, you cannot drive to other cities and leave the points there.

"In most of the games we were in a really good way. Two were big defeats - Manchester City and Tottenham. I think other teams will lose there too.

"That's already in the past though. In the future, we should really take three points as often as possible in other stadiums. That's the aim."

Sadio Mane could be in line for surprise return after missing Liverpool's last three league matches with a hamstring injury suffered on international duty.

The Senegal winger returned to full training on Thursday and impressed Klopp enough to be considered for a bit-part role at the London Stadium.

Meanwhile, Klopp has no intention of stopping his Liverpool players from using social media, despite defender Dejan Lovren receiving a death threat against his family after recent poor performances.

Lovren came in for criticism following an error-strewn display in his side's 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last month, in which the Croatia international was at fault for the hosts' two opening goals and substituted after only half an hour.

Earlier this week, Lovren revealed the extent of the abuse he has received recently on social media and expressed his disgust at one particular message, sent via Instagram, that threatened to murder his wife and children.

"I don't mind when people talk about me, it says more about them.

"But I cannot ignore when my family is threatened," the 28-year-old said of the message in question. "I just can't and won't accept that. Disgusting."

Klopp feels social media is now so ingrained in modern life that any attempt to stop his players from using it would be futile.

Instead, he reminded his squad that the only opinion they need to be concerned about is that of their manager.

"I cannot say don't do it because even for clubs, there are a lot of things we have to do on social media," the Liverpool manager said at his pre-match press conference.

"It's part of the role, it's not bad, it's just overestimated. You think it's the truth. That's our problem in this world, you read something and think: 'Oh my God! That's it.'

"I have no problem with information, but we all have to learn to judge it right," he added.

"Yes, we make mistakes. Dejan made a mistake or two in a game but that's not a problem, we still can show togetherness.

"The criticism, the things we think about the game, that's our opinion, that's what I say - no other opinion is important. That does not mean I am always 100 per cent right, it's just the only important one.

"I'm not leading by emotions, that's why I don't talk too often after a game.

"Then I am still full of emotions but a day later I am completely in an analysis mode.

"What was right, what was wrong, what could we change? It's not so easy but I've never said no, [social media] is not allowed. They're not under-21s any more."

In response to the threat against Lovren's family, Liverpool supporters rallied round the defender and voted for him to be named the club's player of the month for October in an official online poll.

Lovren will share the award with winger Mohamed Salah after each of them received 33 per cent of the vote, and Klopp was delighted with this show of solidarity from the fans.

"It only shows how fans are different from people who are very loud on social media," he said of the gesture.

"That's how I see it. In the more difficult moments you have to really show togetherness.

(© Independent News Service)

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