Jürgen Klopp discusses Trent Alexander-Arnold and building momentum

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp discusses Trent Alexander-Arnold and building momentum

Published 30th September 2022

In the second part of his pre-match press conference, Jürgen Klopp was asked about Trent Alexander-Arnold and Liverpool's response to a testing start to the campaign.

The Reds return to Premier League action for the first time in nearly a month when Brighton & Hove Albion visit Anfield on Saturday for a 3pm BST kick-off. 

Ahead of the game, the boss answered questions from journalists at the AXA Training Centre – read a summary of the second half of the briefing below…

On Alexander-Arnold... 

First part of the season, we, as a team, didn't defend well. That's the truth, we know that, we saw it. The analysis was easy – it was like, 'Oh my God, what's that?' And as a defender, Trent is involved in that – but all the other three as well, in our case all the other six as well. We, as a unit, didn't defend well, that's why you look sometimes in situations late. That's why defending is an art, if you want, because everything has to work together. Offensively, one skill, one guy makes a difference, goal. Defensively, one guy defends the whole pitch, not possible. So we need everybody involved and we were not good at that, that's the truth – my responsibility. And Trent didn't do well in these moments as well, in these moments. There were other moments where he defended exceptionally well but for him in his situation, nobody mentions them. It's like you have a list, bad defending and good defending, and bad defending [is] massive, and the good defending [list] is like you can't even see. That's what I see because I'm not dumb. I would talk the whole day to him about it, I would work the whole day with him on it to be the best. A player, they have to improve in all parts and he's 23 and he has to improve – even offensively he has to. 

But it's the first thing you do if you judge a player, you think about his overall package – and the skillset he has for being influential in possession is mad for a right-back. I don't know if you ever saw a right-back like this where you think, 'OK, passing here, passing there, switching side, crossing there, free-kicks, corners, all these kind of things, smart decisions, quick decisions.' That's it. It's not that I spoke to Trent now like this and said, 'That's what you are good at.' It's not important. He's an outstanding football player in a situation that three other right-backs in his country are doing really well – we should not forget that. Gareth Southgate cannot line up all four, so whoever it will be, two will be disappointed. That's the situation. The view on that, how impactful can he be, that's number one, so what is he good at? That's how we judge a player and then on the rest you work.

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The way we play, for example, if you are not a football specialist, if we do high press, very often, not always, but very often Trent is the highest of all three in the back, so it means in the high-press situation, he's the one who goes to arrive – and that's the way we play football. Now you can say, 'Yeah, then defend better.' You cannot have everything. So if you want a high press, you need players in specific positions. Either way, we put a striker a bit wider to cover that area and the midfield a bit higher, or we cover the last line with three players, plus Fabinho or whoever plays the six and have him higher. So now we don't get the ball there and the next ball goes long on that side, yeah, now Joel, Joey, Ibou, whoever on that side plays, has to cover that, and that's fine. It's the risk we take, it's not a crazy risk. We win the ball in nine out of 10 times but in that one moment where we don't win it, people ask, 'Where's Trent?' And that's a question I don't understand. Everybody who watches football that often, that long, why you would then say, 'Yeah, that's his main job'? But I told him he has to be there. 

Other situations, we press extremely brave when we are good – and we defended bad when we didn't press brave, we were just waiting a little bit because nobody knew exactly, 'Will he still go with it?' and all these kind of things. So we are extremely brave in these situations and win balls with it. Now we don't win the ball and that's the nature of pressing. You bring more players than you need actually on the ball side to make it more likely to win the ball. That gives you, again, a chance on the other side [where you are] slightly exposed. It's football, the pitch is too big to be everywhere with five players. And again, he's involved in that. And then ball again in behind, not there, 'What's going on?' But there are other situations where he was not aware of the situation, where they pass the ball through him, where it was a challenge he should've won – true. Every player in the league has these challenges. With him, you pick it out, analyse so easy. All the experts sitting there, 'In this situation you see it's a weakness.' Honestly, I just don't get it, I just don't get that part of it – that we just accept that a world-class talent gets judged by the one thing he's not as world-class as in other things. 

If he would not be a good defender, he wouldn't play. I cannot just tell him, 'You get the ball, wait there.' In other games you have these specialists probably, 'If you have the ball, give it to Trent, he will do something special.' No, he's involved in everything and that's absolutely fine. He's doing well. But again, it's no criticism on anybody. We all have our different ideas, different match plans, different ways to play. And if that doesn't fit to England, then that's it. He cannot change it. How I said, the player can only offer what he can offer. And I or Gareth or whoever makes a decision if that fits in the way they play. The player has to accept that, that's the world we are living in.

Jürgen Klopp's squad fitness update ahead of Brighton

On whether Liverpool are 'getting closer to where they want to be' performance-wise...

We only had the Ajax game since then. Napoli was rock bottom, of course, so I would have loved to play Wolves after that, even after two days. But it's the moment where you want to show immediately a reaction, 'Come on, reaction.' We couldn't. But then we could show a reaction against Ajax and it was a reaction, it was a clear reaction. Everyone in the stadium was between joy and relief, I would say – at least that's what I felt. I really liked the game but it was relief as well, 'OK, we brought it on the pitch, that's what we wanted to do.' So, yes, if we do that again, we are definitely on the right way, that's it. But this is the basis and this is the lowest level allowed intensity-wise, focus-wise, in a lot of different things this should be the lowest level. But we expect a lot from ourselves, you don't have to tell us we need to have more points, you need to fight for this and that. We want to do that but we didn't. But that's now the basis we are coming from. Ajax is the basis and that's why we have to do [it] again and better.

Published 30th September 2022