Jürgen Klopp reflected on ‘a nearly perfect night’ after Liverpool beat Manchester United 3-1 on Sunday.

The Reds produced a dominant performance versus Jose Mourinho’s team to return to the top of the table and extend their unbeaten start to the Premier League season to 17 matches.

Sadio Mane’s superb finish put Klopp’s side ahead in the 24th minute, but United drew level before half-time thanks to Jesse Lingard.

However, Xherdan Shaqiri struck twice in the space of nine minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute to secure a deserved victory.

Read on for a transcript of Klopp’s post-match press conference…

On how pleased he was with his players…

Very! Very, very, very. The brilliant start was one of the best performances we had since I’m in Liverpool, to be honest, not only this season. The first half an hour was outstanding, outstanding. We scored only once but I don’t think anyone expects to score three, four, five times or whatever. How we played was just perfect, really. We tried to pass in the right areas, we accelerated, we wanted the ball back, we played in behind the line, stuff like that. It was just good. Then after half an hour we lost the momentum of the game a little bit, they scored and it was a bit more open. I had no problem with the half-time whistle, honestly, and then we could adjust a few things. It was not that I thought then that United were manning the game or whatever, but it was just a bit more open. Then they changed and when Fellaini is on the pitch it is never a good sign for the other team, to be honest, because these balls are really difficult to defend. But we did even that really well tonight. So, we stayed in the game, got the dominance back step by step and then Shaq closed the game. Unbelievable, it’s really nice and I think absolutely deserved tonight. You need a bit of luck, what we needed for both goals with the deflections, but bringing the situations, having these moments, that was football, huh? The first goal: what a goal, what a goal. It was brilliant and exactly like they have to do it – fantastic pass, super control and a fantastic finish, that’s how it should be. It was a nearly perfect night for us.

On another relentless display by Andy Robertson and whether the left-back is ‘symbolic of the growth’ of his side…

If you want, yes. So what we did today was change it a little bit. We brought Sadio on the right side and Naby was in the half-space, so that’s how we opened [the game]. Man United was playing rather man-orientated, and that’s why Robbo had the space and he obviously used that really well. He’s in a good moment, honestly, and that helps as well.

Nathaniel Clyne: his first [Premier League] game of the season in mid-December and he plays with that performance. We were not one second sure that he can play the 90 minutes, [but] obviously it was no problem and he could do it. It was brilliant the way he adapted to the style and stuff like this after not being involved at all. Outstanding, and all the boys just worked so hard after the Tuesday game. So, for the moment really good and we have to carry on – that’s how it is.

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On the strength of his squad…

You know that we have a really good squad, but the problem is the moment. So Dom Solanke and Divock Origi trained really well and they were not in the squad tonight. We have options offensively, kind of, but defensively we are a bit short. But today we had the solution, brilliant, and if it stays like this then good. If not, then we have to be as creative probably as Arsenal were today, they had a lot of midfielders in their last line. But for tonight we really had a proper line-up and the bench was so strong, which meant we could change from one of the most intense games of the season so far, against Napoli, we could change two midfield positions. That helps a lot, so we had fresh legs and that helps these boys.

On Fabinho’s performance…

He was outstanding, absolutely outstanding. But what I don’t like in these questions, the thing I don’t hear, is that it says something about other players as well. If you don’t mean it like that then I will still answer it. On Tuesday, we played against Napoli one of the best games of the season [versus] an outstandingly strong opponent, we played with Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield. It’s the heart and soul of the game and as long as we can make these changes, we will make these changes, that’s how it is. We had fresh legs there and if they are fresh in mind we can always go for it. Then they demand the game like Fabi did tonight, absolutely together with Gini, fantastic. Naby played so naturally smart in that half-space, because it is not easy… so it is just good. Fabinho played at the highest level, that’s true.

On the impact of Liverpool’s substitutes in recent weeks…

They all made a difference. You don’t have to score to make a difference, but of course it helps massively – especially if you are an offensive player. Shaq is such a wonderfully skilled boy that he has to have influence, that’s important. We can bring him in a half-space and if he passes the ball back to the guy who passed him the ball, it doesn’t make too much sense. He has to turn, he has to speed up, he has to change the situation, pass in behind and all that stuff. He did it. We were all a bit afraid that Clyney would shoot in the moment Shaq came! If Clyney would have scored tonight it would have been a real celebration! Being then in the finishing moments in the box, or around at least, that helps massively. 

You could see the game felt good for the boys. We spoke last week, the Napoli game away was never our game – the whole 90 minutes, we were never in the game. We tried to change things but never got the momentum back. Tonight, again, we had quieter moments but we never lost the momentum or the sense we could get it back and play again.

On how he manages his squad to keep players happy…

I cannot keep players happy; you are happy or not happy, you understand it or you don’t understand it. I think the boys understand it. If you are happy because we all treat you like you’ve played the last 500 games then it is easy to be happy because we never make a difference. Rotation, changing line-ups in an intense period, there are two opportunities – you play all the time until you are injured, or you have to manage games. These are the only two possibilities to play all the time. It is the Premier League, we cannot manage games. We do it a bit in the centre-half position if you are 4-0 up or whatever, then it is not that intense anymore, we keep the ball. In all offensive positions and midfield positions, there is no chance to manage a game for me, so that means we have to make changes. In an ideal world, we would make these changes before the boys are injured. 

Then there are specific jobs to do against specific opponents – you need somebody for the half-space, you need somebody between the lines, you need somebody for the runs in behind and stuff like that. A big squad is not there to make each member of the squad happy, it is to give everybody the opportunity to show that he should play. If you don’t show that then you have not even an opportunity anymore, to be honest, and we don’t have to think about it. In the best case, everybody is 100 per cent fit and performs at the highest level. 

The best example of that is Nathaniel Clyne. Since I am in, he played [close to] 100 or something games or so, then he got a bad injury and then he was out. It doesn’t help. In this moment, Trent came out, Joe got injured and stuff like that. Life and the situation changed. You can train at the highest level and you have still to wait. Is that nice? No. Is it a job? Yes. Because Clyney did that and trained at a really high level, he could perform like he performed tonight, which was just amazing.

On the impact of Manchester City’s win against Everton yesterday on Liverpool’s preparations…

We ignored it completely. I cannot say we passed [the test of winning after City won] because we didn’t think about it. I didn’t mention it one time. We are not silly, we know the table. Are you focused on it or not? I said it before, we played tonight Man United – and not against United and City. That’s the only way I know and we really didn’t speak about it. I think that already helps. It’s not that they win and then we come together, train and say: ‘Did you see what City did?’ We are focused on our game and we will see where it leads us to. 

If there is a moment in the end of the season when we’re still around them and we have to think about [them] and start hoping they drop points, maybe – I don’t know today. In the moment we respect them a lot, they respect us, and we have to win football games against all the others. Then we meet on January 3 again and then we think about City a lot.

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