Jürgen Klopp detailed his respect and admiration for Norwich City and Daniel Farke ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Carrow Road.
The Reds resume their Premier League season on Saturday with a top-versus-bottom clash in East Anglia.
The sides last met on the opening weekend of 2019-20, when Liverpool’s clinical cutting edge proved to be the difference in a 4-1 victory.
During his pre-match press conference, Klopp was asked whether the Canaries’ display on that August evening at Anfield – and specifically their attacking flair and creativity – meant their current league position surprised him.
“Is it a surprise? I’m not sure [because] this league is so strong so this can happen. What I really admire is that they stick to their principles, that they do what they do,” the boss replied.
“This game against us [on the opening day] is a very good example I think for the whole Norwich City season: really good football, super coaching, you can see all the patterns on the pitch, you can see all the movements from the training ground, [they are] very confident, conceding four in the first half but not giving up.
“For example, in that game they scored and they had more chances and stuff like this. Yes, we could have scored more as well, but this is a good example for their season.
“They caused 95 per cent of all the teams they played against real problems, [but] at the end they lost a lot of these games – that’s why they are in the situation they are.
“But for me, it looks from outside that this club really sticks together, that they know what their position is, they know what they have to do and they are, strange as it may sound, in a really good situation, in a good moment in the club.
“Yes, they want to stay in the Premier League – that’s still possible, difficult but possible – but even if not you can see the transfers they made in the winter. They are all already with the perspective for where they will be next season, they will have a strong side again, nobody questions Daniel Farke for super reasons because he is doing an incredible job.
“So there could be some consistency, which was maybe a little bit of a problem in the last few years with Norwich, I’m not sure. That’s very important. I was in a similar club at Mainz: we played good football but we couldn’t stay in the league at one point, we needed a bit to come back but it’s possible.
“You need a plan for tomorrow and you need a plan for next month and you need a plan for the next few years and for me it looks like they have that so I have a lot of respect.
“But again, we scored four, they scored one, that’s one of the problems they had, but they had much more chances in that game and that’s what we have to think about. It was a really good warning and a good start in the season for us, it was early, we were not that consistent at that time, we finished the game maybe too early, it was 4-0 at half-time.
“That’s a tricky situation, can lead you on the wrong path, not 100 per cent fit yet, players not as long together as necessary and so we had to fight a little bit more in the second half but that’s completely OK. Now the teams are in a different situation and we will feel the quality of Norwich, but we have to make sure that they feel our quality as well.”
Saturday’s game will be Liverpool’s first in the Premier League for two weeks following the mid-season break.
However, Klopp does not anticipate any difficulties for his team in terms of rhythm, due to the pleasing intensity of this week’s work at Melwood.
“With training,” he stated, when asked how he goes about regaining rhythm.
“The dream of a manager is that you have a full week to prepare a game, then you have intensity in training sessions which you usually cannot have – usually the most intense session is the game in a training week if you play Saturday, Wednesday and Saturday or Sunday again.
“The three games are the only intense sessions you have really, the rest is tactical stuff, which is very important but never intense or never at the highest intensity. That’s now exactly the other way around, so we used that week, we trained a lot, we trained hard.
“You lose, not really lose, but you have to find rhythm back – not the rhythm in between games but rhythm for playing football when we started. That was done then and since the quality has been really good in training, that’s how we want to have it.
“When you are always playing and playing and playing, it’s not that we don’t enjoy it, we enjoy it a lot, but to do something else for one week in the middle of a season is just nice. You are looking forward to the next game like you didn’t play for the last half-year, so that’s really nice and hopefully we can see that tomorrow.”