Jürgen Klopp exclusive: 'We all have to work together and play our part'
Jürgen Klopp today provided Liverpool supporters with an insight into how he and his players and staff are adjusting to the new social distancing government guidelines, with individualised and group training sessions taking place.
Speaking to Liverpoolfc.com in an exclusive interview via video link from his home, the manager underlined the sentiments he first delivered in a letter to supporters upon the suspension of football due to the coronavirus outbreak two weeks ago.
Klopp detailed how the Reds players are currently working out remotely, with the club's fitness and sports science teams running sessions online for the squad to take part in, but his message remained unequivocal: the health of everybody must come first.
Watch our chat with the boss in the video below, or read on for a full transcript.
Jürgen, it’s the first time we’ve spoken to you in a little while. How are you?
I’m good, I’m good. It is a difficult time for all of us, but from a personal point of view an interesting one as well because I’ve never had a situation like this and was never that long at home. From a personal point of view, I am really good, but like everybody else, [I am] concerned about the situation around us, of course.
As I say, it is the first time we’ve spoken to you, so can you take us back to the last day at Melwood and give us a little bit of insight about what happened that day before the players left the training ground…
It is two weeks ago, but it feels like it is ages ago that we played Atletico and Thursday was a day off. I remember, we all knew about the situation with coronavirus around the world but we were still ‘in our tunnel’, if you want, and until then it didn’t really arrive into our mind in England. We played the Bournemouth game on Saturday, we won it, then Sunday City lost, so the information for us was ‘two wins to go’. But then on Monday morning, I woke up and heard about the situation in Madrid, that they would close the schools and universities from Wednesday, so it was really strange to prepare for that game, to be honest. I usually don’t struggle with things around me, I can build barriers right and left when I prepare for a game, but in that moment it was really difficult. Wednesday we had the game, I loved the game, I loved what I saw from the boys, it was a really, really good performance other than the result – we didn’t score enough, we conceded too many, that’s all clear, but between these two main pieces of information it was a brilliant game! Thursday [we were] off and then Friday when we arrived it was already clear this is not a session. Yes, we trained, but it was more of a meeting. We had a lot of things to talk about, a lot of things to think about, things I never thought before in my life about. Nobody knew exactly – and nobody knows exactly – how it will go on, so the only way we could do it was to organise it as good as possible for the boys and make sure everything is sorted as much as we can sort it in our little space, in the little area where we are responsible, really. That’s what we did in a very short time, then we sent the boys home, went home ourselves and here we are still.
You’ve given many talks to teams and players throughout your career, but how difficult was this one?
Yes, usually I understand much more about the things I am talking about, to be honest! How could I explain the situation around corona? No chance. Look, in my job, in my life, I face a lot of problems – completely different problems to the ones we have now, but problems anyway – and I am a completely solution-orientated person. I am not really interested in the problem usually; I take it as information and I immediately work on the solutions. In this case, no chance; for me, no chance; for anybody, [no chance] in the short term. It will all be sorted and we know that, but not in the short term. So, what could I really know about? I had the same amount of questions like the boys, [that] I couldn’t answer – but we did, meanwhile. We spoke a couple of times, we have a really intense, big, big group chat – the whole of Melwood are in that. The boys are really lively in that, the boys are just interested in what everybody is doing, comments on what everybody is doing – if Ox is on Instagram or whatever! So, that helps a lot. The mood is good. As I said, it is a challenge for all of the people as we know [and] we know that our life is still good. There are so many people out there that have much bigger problems so it would feel really embarrassing to myself if I was to talk about my ‘problems’ – I have the problems every person in the world has in the moment. That’s the lesson we learn in this moment. Four or five weeks ago it looks like a lot of countries thought, ‘That’s our problem, that’s our problem, that’s our problem, we have a problem with them’ and stuff like this. Now nature shows us we are all the same and we have all the same problems in the same moment, and we have to work together on the solution. There is nothing good in that situation apart from maybe what we can learn from that.
On that Friday afternoon you sent a message to our supporters saying that health is more important than football. You will have been going through a range of emotions that day, but you felt it was the right message to send?
It was the only message to send because I think it’s common sense, but I understand very well that I’m a football manager. That’s the job I always wanted and from the outside perspective it’s a big job, people expect us to be leaders, smart, stuff like this. Maybe a few of us are, I’m not sure! But it’s more important that in this moment I spoke as yes, the manager of LFC, but as a completely normal guy as well because in this moment… in a lot of parts of my life football was my first concern, but not in this moment and I wanted to make sure that people know that and maybe they can see it in the same way. In this moment we have the chance as human beings… OK, let me say it like this: In the future, in 10, 20, 30, 40 years, if we look back and then the conclusion is that this was the period when the world showed the biggest solidarity, the biggest love, the biggest friendship or whatever, that would be great, that would be really great. So in the moment when you go through a phase or a period like this it’s not possible to see that, especially not for the people who are ill, but there will be a point in the future, a moment in the future when we look back and hopefully then we can see it like this. Because that’s the solution for it – we all have to be disciplined, we all have to work together, we all have to take care of each other and that’s the solution for this problem. That’s why we are at home, not all of us, a lot of people are out there working still, the health services – it’s incredible these people are doing their jobs to make sure that we can stay at home. I just wanted to use common sense to explain my view.
How big is your admiration for those people who cannot stay at home and who are still out there working?
My English is not good enough to say. It’s extraordinary, it’s great. I think yesterday I was sent a video of people in the hospital just outside the intensive care area and when they started singing You’ll Never Walk Alone I started crying immediately. It’s unbelievable. But it shows everything, these people not only work but they have such a good spirit. They are used to helping other people, we need to get used to it because usually we have our own problems and stuff. But it’s their job, they do it day in and day out. They bring themselves, if you want, in danger because they help ill, sick and seriously handicapped people, so I couldn’t admire them more and appreciate it more, I really couldn’t.
In terms of ourselves, the LFC Foundation and Red Neighbours are still doing everything they can to support the community, which is something special for the club…
I think in the moment a lot of wonderful things happen out there and we all know that this is a special club. There are special people working here and all these kind of things so I am not surprised in a lot of moments [to see a response] with a big heart and I love that. What all these different parts of our club did over the years, whether it’s the Foundation or foodbanks and stuff like this, is incredible. I know other clubs are doing it as well and football clubs show responsibility – I like that, really. I like that a lot and that’s what we all do, what we have to do. In moments like this the first thing you have to do is be generous: generous with words, generous with feelings and generous with money of course as well. That’s what we do, that’s clear, wherever we can help we try to help, 100 per cent.
You’ve always said your backroom team are vitally important to everything the team does. Just how impressed have you been by the way they’ve adjusted and adapted to this current situation?
First and foremost, I have to say – not only the backroom staff, I miss everybody. I just miss everybody. It’s two weeks and I’m not on holiday. Usually you are somewhere and that’s not a moment where you miss the backroom staff or your colleagues. But at the moment, really desperately. We miss each other, we really like working together. We have a lot of contact with WhatsApp groups and phone calls, FaceTime, whatever. So we see each other a lot but not like we want to or like we are used to, but they still do an incredible job. Look, yes, we all have the same problems but there are some special problems on top of that. We have the players and it’s difficult for football players, like it’s difficult for me, to go normal shopping, food shopping. We have to do social distancing and we try that. We are now in the second week at home. We have to organise it. What Mona [Nemmer] is doing there is incredible, it’s just incredible. Really, it’s highest level. I don’t find the right words for that. What Korny [Andreas Kornmayer] is doing with the fitness guys, how inventive they are with different things we can use. Of course, we do stuff as well where we’re all together doing the same things in the same moment. It’s all possible technical-wise now. But they have their own programmes, they send videos, they give challenges and all that stuff. We had a difficult situation in the medical department, Andy Massey left to FIFA and then Jim Moxon jumped in, if you want, from like nowhere together with Sarah Lindsay, they are doing an incredible job in getting all this information. You can imagine, you go in isolation and you hear from outside the first sign [of coronavirus] is maybe a sore throat, a little bit of a headache – who can say they didn’t wake up the next morning after getting this information and felt a slightly sore throat and a slight headache? That’s how human beings are, and we had that as well. Then you call the Doc, you are used to calling the Doc in these situations. So they had to calm down. Lee Richardson, the psychologist, of course. All the physiotherapists are hopefully not that busy in the moment anymore because it’s not allowed that they go in and do the stuff with the players. Ray Haughan organised all the stuff around together with Louise [Dobson]. It’s just really incredible. We still do the same without meeting and training together. Of course, it’s what we love to do, but we respect absolutely 100 per cent the situation and want to play our part in it.
You mentioned the team WhatsApp group earlier and the players dropping the social media posts in there. What have you made of some of their posts; we’ve seen Ox dancing, Millie cutting the grass…
I didn’t cut the grass but I tried the dance of Ox! Not as bad as you probably think! It’s very important in these times that we all show we take this situation seriously, but we are human beings. At the moment we are at home and when you are at home, you cannot do something to help outside. We are not health workers, we don’t work in a supermarket. You have to keep your own mood up and you have to keep the mood up for other people. If the boys do anything on Instagram, as long as it’s in a legal frame I’m overly happy about it – it just shows they are still cheeky and all that stuff. I like it, I like it a lot. I like the line-ups they do. All these things are really funny. It’s good.
What other kind of things have you been watching?
I watched a few movies – I watched the Taken trilogy again! To be honest, that’s how it is – you do a lot of things you usually don’t do. I’m still in that period. Two weeks is long but it’s not that long.
Just finally, I think it’s fair to say a lot of people are missing football, but the most important thing right now is that everyone continues to follow the government’s guidelines and stays home…
We said it now often enough, and I think everybody knows, football is not the most important thing in the world. One hundred per cent not. In this moment it’s clear what is. But the only way to get football back as soon as possible, if that’s what the people want, the more disciplined we are now the earlier we will get, piece by piece by piece, our life back. That’s how it is. There is no other solution in the moment, nobody has another solution. We have to be disciplined by ourselves, we have to keep the distance to other people. We can still do some things, not a lot, but we have to just calm down a little bit with things. Yes, outside the economy has to carry on, that will start again. But the lower the number will be when we go out again, the number of people infected, that’s what I understand, the better it is. It will not be like nobody anymore after the next few weeks but the curve will flatten, that’s the most important thing. We have to give our people in the hospitals, our doctors, the chance to treat the people with serious issues with full concentration. We have to give people time to build ventilators, we have to give people time to find solutions. There will be a moment when other smart people find a vaccine for the virus. But until then, we have to make sure we do the best possible for all the people out there. You hear now more and more it’s not only the elderly and weaker - it’s not only that, there are younger people involved who can die of it as well. It’s not about that, it’s about just, show heart and a bit of sensibility and do the right thing: stay at home as long as we have to. And then at one point we will play football again as well, 100 per cent. I couldn’t wish more for it because of a few really good reasons, how you can imagine. I can’t wait actually, but even I have to be disciplined and I try to be as much as I can.