Jürgen Klopp on form, defending, Rangers analysis, Nunez and more

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on form, defending, Rangers analysis, Nunez and more

Published 3rd October 2022
By Glenn Price and Chris Shaw

Jürgen Klopp previewed Liverpool's Champions League clash with Rangers during a press conference at Anfield on Monday afternoon.

The Reds boss spoke to the media ahead of his side’s third fixture of the tournament’s group stage, with the Scottish Premiership outfit the visitors to L4 tomorrow night.

Klopp discussed how Liverpool are working to deliver a response to last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion and detailed his analysis of Rangers.

He also fielded questions on Darwin Nunez’s ongoing adaptation, making improvements defensively, and more.

Read a summary of the media briefing below…

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On whether he expected Liverpool’s form to improve more quickly and the reasons why it hasn’t…

Quicker? Not sure. One of the conversations we had already this year was before and after the Ajax game and especially after the Napoli game, when we all realised, ‘OK, wow, that’s now really a low point, we have to change the things quickly.’ Didn’t play Wolves, played Ajax, didn’t play Chelsea, means we couldn’t pick anything up and keep it from the Ajax game really. And on top of that you face Brighton, in a very good moment, a very good team, with a new manager and you concede these two early goals, which is in no situation helpful but in other situations maybe lesser harmful than it was for us that day. Turned it around, not with a brilliant performance but with a proper fight, adapting to the situation, denying Brighton in the areas they wanted to play and all these kind of things.

You are 3-2 up and then you could see, it’s not the first time something like this happened, that we were not controlling the game. We had our moments, we had chances, we had top moments where we could have scored the fourth goal; didn’t do that and so you leave the door open and that’s what happened. How it always is in life, if you spot a problem you think about it, you think you have the solution and of course you expect then the solution to be instantly influential: ‘Bam, sorted.’ That’s in football never the case, it will never be the case. If we would have won the game 3-2 it would have been a completely different feeling obviously but with similar problems.

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That’s why we just have to keep going. Yes, we have to improve. We have to play better, consistently better; defend better, attack better, pretty much everything. It’s like it is. I don’t want to talk too much about it but it’s really like this – it’s only two years ago we had a very similar situation for different reasons where we lost our full defence, our centre-halves, all of them pretty much, and had to find solutions. We lost our game completely, nobody could recognise [us] anymore, we just wore the same shirts. But couldn’t react as quick as people could wish. But we found a way out because we worked on it and that’s what we will do this time.

Our general situation is important but not so much for tomorrow because when you prepare for a game you prepare for a game independent of your situation and Rangers, I think, do extremely well in general but in the Champions League the results they had were now not exactly how they wanted so we expect a team who is really fighting for a result. That’s what we have to prepare for.

On making defensive improvements…

We concede now similar goals, let me say it like this, where they go through the same gaps. The special problem we have is that we have a really brave way of defending usually and when the timing in our defending is not perfect then we leave a gap open. That was always the case, by the way, but because of the pressure we made on the boy on the ball, nobody really recognised it because we closed it with intensity. If you don’t do that then this gap is open for a short moment. And Brighton used it quite often, passed the ball through our gap in between the lines where they could turn and these kind of things, and that makes it tricky. We have to be more compact, we have that in our mind, we know that. But in the moment when it’s going well you do it and then you do it again but timing is still not right. Defending is kind of an art and it worked for us really long really well, but when it’s not working out anymore you realise step by step how much you have to go back to the basics that you defend solid again.

On his analysis of Rangers…

Good football team, well coached, exceptional European season last year obviously. Qualifying for the Champions League a big, big, big, big achievement. [I] saw obviously the last game against Hearts. I saw more games but now especially the last one. Really good football team and that’s what we have to prepare for. And a team who have had results they didn’t want, so that’s what they want to change definitely. So, we expect a proper fight, a real fight, to be honest, and that’s what we prepare for.

On Nunez’s adaptation to the team…

It’s good. Of course he is still adapting, how players always adapt. New players come in and everybody talks about them and wants them to shine immediately. That happens from time to time, and sometimes not. Only yesterday we had a long talk with Pep Lijnders – because my Spanish or Portuguese is still not better – and we just told him we are completely calm. It’s really important in our situation when he is now not starting, and he is not looking like he is worrying or whatever.

Why he didn’t start this game [against Brighton], he came from international [duty] and he had DOMS in the hamstring. When you get this information from the medical department, it gives you some kind of minutes, how long he is allowed to play. Don’t start anybody who is allowed to play 20 minutes or 15. I know it’s again this kind of discussion we open up a little bit for the outside world. Of course the three-game suspension didn’t help him to settle, that’s clear. But that’s pretty much all. The team is not flying, that makes it not easier for a striker, especially not for a finisher. We create chances but it’s not that everything is clicking and we just put [a ball] in for one player and he finishes our situations off. That’s not our situation in the moment, as much as I wish it would be, and that’s all.

On whether there is a ‘quick fix to help Liverpool’s defence’ and whether he has the time...

No, we don’t have the time. Is there a quick fix? Yes, we can improve, we can play exactly the same and do better – that’s already a fix. So that’s how it is, timing gets better. But how I said, if we can do something, we will do that as well to make it easier for the boys. That’s it. That’s actually always the job. How I said, it’s the same job I have in the time when you win 10, 12 times in a row – it doesn’t happen very often but you have to stay on top of it, work on details, all these kind of things. That’s what we do now, just with a different confidence level, so that’s how it is. Usually in the time when you win a lot of games, not everything is going your way in the game but there’s no impact. Lose the ball, they have a chance, whatever, that happens, Ali makes an insane save, probably then we made a mistake before and nobody has [it] in his mind. That’s different in the moment and that’s where we have to get to. We have to increase the amount of good moments and decrease the amount of not-so-good moments because that’s how you get out of every situation in life until you can make mistakes again without being as impactful as they are in the moment.

On former Liverpool defender Ben Davies, who signed for Rangers in the summer...

Ben is a really good player. I know that he was injured, so you tell me how impactful he was – I have no idea. He was out for six, seven weeks? So the season is not much longer, so how many games did he play? The games I watched were the last three, it means I only saw him now in the 60-odd minutes he played there. Ben’s a really good footballer. He was here, good build-up, good defender, all these kind of things. In our situation, it didn’t work out here but that doesn’t make him a bad player. Not at all. Especially, he’s a really good boy. I think that’s what Rangers wanted and that’s what Rangers got. When you’re injured, it’s not helpful obviously and I think they were looking for a left-footed centre-half there, and they got it. He can play different systems, which is important. Rangers played in the Champions League one-and-a-half games, around about, with five in the back – usually they don’t. But Ben can play both, played both formations, so it makes him a really valuable player for each squad and especially for Rangers. I think they are happy but obviously were not happy when he got injured – how can you be happy then?

On his assessment of the Scottish game...

I think it increased a lot. I see you nodding, so I think we agree on that. Yeah, Rangers and Celtic are obviously the standout teams in the league – that’s no news – but I understand the best information you can get is how do they do in Europe. And Rangers’ run last year in the Europa League was exceptional. I saw the games against Dortmund, for example, it was just really good. Especially with a home game, you can see how atmosphere can give you really the edge in a game and that was really impressive. And Celtic is obviously doing really well as well.

You’re right, the Scottish team is full of talent. We have, with Calvin [Ramsay], another Scottish boy here who’s only back from injury and in the U18s another big talent. It’s cool, it’s a cool place to scout again if you want. I think it’s a good sign for Scottish football. They might be a bit disappointed that they are not still in Scotland but, to be honest, with these two teams that dominant, we all know that if a player’s really developing, it’s probably not unlikely that he will at least give it a try in the Premier League or wherever. But it’s, for sure, a much better moment than maybe four, five years ago and that’s down to the players you have.

Published 3rd October 2022