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Self-critical Klopp is not afraid to show his teeth

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‘I’m prepared for the things you will say about us if next season does not start as it should’. Photo: Shaun Botterill/NMC Pool/PA Wire

‘I’m prepared for the things you will say about us if next season does not start as it should’. Photo: Shaun Botterill/NMC Pool/PA Wire

PA

‘I’m prepared for the things you will say about us if next season does not start as it should’. Photo: Shaun Botterill/NMC Pool/PA Wire

When Jurgen Klopp snapped at an innocuous question in an interview with Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves shortly after the 4-0 defeat by Manchester City on Thursday, it was not the first time Liverpool's manager had reacted badly to a defeat.

Clashes with the media have been a feature of his management style, travelling with him from Germany to England. At times he can be condescending, mocking those who displease him with their line of questioning.

In the interests of full disclosure, this reporter has been on the receiving end. Caught off guard when requested to ask the first question after a 1-1 draw with Newcastle in October 2017, I offered a simple: "Do you think that was a fair result, Jurgen?" It was a lazy, but inoffensive opening gambit.

It sparked a long and tense exchange, which Klopp kept returning to throughout the press conference, annoyed by both my view of the game and my audacity to answer him back, pointing out, contrary to his view, that Newcastle must have created a chance as they had scored a goal.

His most memorable put-down was to inquire as to whether this was my first game of football. It was uncomfortable. Klopp was visibly angry as he left.

These have been isolated incidents because Liverpool have thrived under Klopp. When you do not lose many games, you do not need to show that side of your personality.

This is not a criticism. It is part of what makes Klopp special. He hates losing and revealed he had still been in a filthy mood when he woke up the morning after the City game, his emotions returning to normal only when he got to the training ground because he "could start to put things right".

Klopp's clashes with journalists may well be a coping mechanism. Just because he is irritable and confrontational in an interview does not mean he is with his players. He is, in fact, releasing his negative emotions in a way that will not harm his team. He is directing his anger at outsiders, not those he leads. It is clever rather than rash.

"I don't know if I have always been like this after a defeat," replied Klopp when asked why he behaves as he does. "I have had so many setbacks in my career. I have not always only needed a night [to recover], sometimes more, but not much longer. There are things I cannot change, like the result from the other night, all I can do is use it for the next game. But you cannot stop your feelings and it feels really, really average [when you lose].

''Sometimes you really suffer when something doesn't work out.

"I am very self-critical, I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff I don't like, but I don't do self-pity because as long as I am healthy I can always do things to influence my position.

"Do I have a problem with people who are different? I don't know. I do not meet many people who are different. Who do you meet after a game? My players, they listen to me. It depends on my mood if I get it right, but if I came in and shouted like crazy then we can suffer longer. If you focus on the facts, it is done and we are already working on the solutions . . . we carry on."

Klopp was stung by the 4-0 City defeat, but you sense he is already preparing for battles ahead. When he won the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, he still remembers the attacks that followed in the media when they did not start the next season so well. "Sometimes in life you need to have the problem before you can find the solution," he explained. "It's not about what you won last year, it's always about what you can maybe win the next year.

"What I learnt at Dortmund was that if you do not start the next season well, all things will be thrown at you. I'm prepared for all the things you [the media] will say about us if next season does not start as it should.

"But as long as I see in the eyes of my boys that they're ready . . ."

And they will be. To speculate otherwise is more insulting to Klopp than a disagreeable question in a press conference will ever be.

Telegraph

Telegraph.co.uk