Jürgen Klopp on Newcastle win, James Milner's performance and squad strength

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Newcastle win, James Milner's performance and squad strength

Published 30th April 2022
By James Carroll and Joe Urquhart at St. James' Park

Jürgen Klopp labelled Liverpool’s victory over Newcastle United as a ‘top-class performance’ after they recorded a 1-0 win at St. James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.

Naby Keita’s first-half goal was enough to settle the outcome of the contest in the north east and send the Reds back to the top of the Premier League table, with Manchester City not in action until later in the day at Leeds United.

The visitors were good value for their three points, with several chances to add to their tally, and Klopp was pleased with their display having made five changes to the starting line-up.

Read on to see what the manager had to say to reporters in his post-match press conference...

Newcastle 0-1 Liverpool: Extended highlights

On the victory and the performance of his side…

It was incredibly difficult for the boys today, to be honest, it’s clear we played two-and-a-half days ago, if you want. Coming here, [against] a team in form, six home wins on the bounce, great weather, everybody in a good mood [and] actually, pretty much everything is prepared for another home win. The only group who wanted to avoid that were my players. It was an outstanding football game, to be honest. [In the] first 15 minutes we had to adapt slightly a little bit, that's normal. Obviously, Newcastle changed a little bit, put Joelinton on the right side - left side, our right - and kept the ball there [and] went for second balls. We struggled a bit, tried to adapt to it, did better, when the ball was on the ground we had a really good game already, I really liked how we played, how we put them [and] kept them quiet. [I] can't remember a lot of counter-attacks, there was the offside goal they scored and there might [have been] one second half, [but] the chance they had was offside as well. In the circumstances, [a] top-class performance. Really happy.

On his ability to chop and change and for his side to still put in performances...

It’s cool, hey? Yeah, that’s the only reason why we are where we are. That’s how it is. That’s the only reason - the boys buy completely into the situation. The boys who didn’t come on today, you should’ve seen their faces on the bench when the final whistle went. It’s absolutely outstanding. We know that. The group is exceptional, exceptionally talented and has a really good character. That’s really helpful.

On James Milner’s performance...

Yeah, outstanding. Millie is incredibly important for us, that’s very important, because people think if you talk about the dressing room... yes, it is helpful. He’s very helpful there, especially with a manager who is not a native speaker. But, on the pitch as well, he played a super game. Super game. I don’t want to take anything away from him, but I liked Naby’s performance as well a little bit. Hendo on six, that worked really well. The boys were on fire, we played football, we kept the ball in the right moments. We struggled around the second-ball fights, we knew that before the game because there’s no way - that I know at least - to defend them 100 per cent. So, tricky, 50-50, in between balls - that’s not cool to defend. But, apart from that I really loved the game. James was a massive part of it.

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On how excited he is for the remainder of the season...

Very excited, but not because [of] the prospect of winning something because I never understood that. It’s like, say we are five points ahead in the league, for example, and then you have four games to play and nearly all the time people ask you, ‘Now it’s here... looking forward to...’ No, no, no, you are just concerned about winning the next game. If somebody tells you it’s done then you can think about all the rest, so I am not smart enough to try two things at the same time. When we finished the game, our analyst was in the dressing room and I asked him how Villarreal is playing because they play now as well - they were 2-1 down, made a few changes line-up-wise - so that’s our life. We are excited, I love this football team and we go into the next [game] and try to be as good as somehow possible, but that’s it pretty much. It’s a good situation, but for us the number of games we still have to play is a lot; with or without the Champions League final it’s a lot, so we better win everything because otherwise it could be tricky.

On whether it’s difficult to make changes... 

Look, it’s my job to make decisions, I don’t have to do a lot of other things. For example, Kostas Tsimikas would’ve deserved to play and Robbo would have had a break as well, but when you change one full-back and a centre-half and there are three changes in the last line, what I think then is, ‘No, don’t do that, let’s do it like this.’ The decisions are not that difficult because the boys are all in a good shape, really all in a good shape. We had Divock Origi with a little bit of vomiting and stuff like this, stomach problems. We had that before with Curtis and Kostas, so we have to be careful to make sure it’s not really going around. That’s why he was not involved. It’s hard in the moments for the players not to play, but with the quality the boys offer it is not that difficult for me.

On whether he’s met a better professional than Milner...

No, but it would be interesting to look at Luka Modric - is he not 36 as well? Obviously a good generation! It’s difficult to be fitter than Millie. He’s a role model; I told him and can I tell the world, nothing what we achieved in the last few years would have happened over the last few years without James Milner. Easy as that, whether he was on the pitch or not. It’s because he set the standards in a way not a lot of people can set standards. He has educated all of us.

On whether there is any news on Milner’​​​​​​​s future...

Nothing, Millie decides that.

Published 30th April 2022