Jürgen Klopp on post-Napoli analysis, Ajax visit and more

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on post-Napoli analysis, Ajax visit and more

Published 12th September 2022
By Glenn Price and Chris Shaw

Jürgen Klopp explained how Liverpool will try to use the lessons learned in defeat at Napoli as they aim to respond against AFC Ajax on Tuesday night.

The Reds’ Champions League group-stage campaign began with a 4-1 loss in Italy last week and Klopp’s men have the chance to bounce back from that disappointment when Ajax visit Anfield tomorrow.

At a press conference this afternoon, Klopp spoke to the media about the reaction within the squad in between fixtures and the fundamentals that must be restored when they return to action versus the Eredivisie side.

Read a summary of the manager’s briefing below…

On the postponement of last weekend’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers…

Of course, in a week with Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday this would’ve been a tough one anyway, coming back Thursday afternoon and stuff like this. But yes, we would have wanted to play. But for the reasons we all know, it didn’t happen and of course we respect that. Now we try to use the time for analysis and training, which made absolute sense after the game we played at Napoli.

On his post-Napoli assessment that Liverpool have to ‘reinvent’ themselves and further thoughts on that…

Yeah, a lot, lots of thoughts. I watched the game back plenty of times and it was a real horror show, to be honest, so we showed the boys the situation as well. They knew but then seeing it again makes it really obvious. That was the worst game we played since I am here and we had a few bad games, we all know that, everybody remembers probably Aston Villa and some others where we were just not up to speed and stuff like this. But there were always glimpses of us, even in these games.

In this particular game, nothing. So then obviously you have to understand why that happens. I think that’s not a common thing, that’s more an individual thing because I think pretty much eight out of 11 were absolutely below their level which they usually can play. And the three others were not on top level, just a normal game, I would say. Football is like this, you sort all individual problems as a team and that’s the first thing we have to do, to follow a common idea again. Everything we did since I’m here and everything teams do in football is based on really solid, if not nearly perfect, defending. That’s where it all starts and that’s where we had to work on. And that’s what we did.

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Watch: Liverpool's pre-Ajax press conference in full

On it being possible to turn things around in Group A…

Yeah, but that’s not now the one thing to think about. Obviously we have to show a reaction definitely, we know that. That doesn’t guarantee a result against Ajax. Ajax are actually, I would say, pretty much in the opposite situation, completely different, won all their games so far this season. Have again a rebuild, a really massive rebuild, but doing no surprise again a really good job.

Thinking about the situation in the group, I don’t think that’s massively helpful. We know about it, it’s anyway clear. But it’s a home game in the Champions League so it’s not that we give the points away before we start. But we have to make sure we play completely different to what we did at Napoli and we will see what we can get for that. It’s always like this, if you want to sort a problem and if it doesn’t work out in the first place, like immediately then you think ‘That’s wrong’, then you have to do it again and again and again. Even when we realised now all together that we have to defend much better, it doesn’t mean that from now on we will not make any kind of mistakes anymore because they are still possible, that’s how it is. And then you have to deal with that. But first and foremost, we have to show we all have the same idea and that’s hopefully possible tomorrow night.

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On producing a reaction against Ajax…

If I don’t want to do one thing [it] is give Ajax any kind of hint or whatever you want for what they have to expect tomorrow night and don’t give anybody kind of a headline, stuff like this. And it’s not the time for us to do that, we don’t have to create headlines before the game. If, positive headlines [are] for after the game and for that the only chance we have is during the game. I think Ajax expect us to react. I’m not sure if they use a lot of the Napoli game and say ‘Yeah, OK, that’s how they can play as well.’ But if you see us this season we are just not consistent enough so far. This consistency we have to build and create again. That was always the same, it always starts with defending and that’s what we have to do better and then we will see what we can do with that.

On Anfield paying respect to Queen Elizabeth II with a minute’s silence ahead of the game...

Yeah, I think it’s the right thing to do. But I don’t think that our people need any kind of advice from me for showing respect. There were plenty of examples where our people showed exactly the right respect. One which surprised me, and I was really proud of that moment, was last year when we played Man United around the very sad situation around Cristiano Ronaldo’s family, and that’s what I expect. For me, it’s clear that’s what we have to do. That’s it.

On his experiences in the days since the passing of the Queen...

How did I experience it? I was pretty busy but still got some glimpses here and there. How I said before in another interview, I’m 55 years old and she’s the only Queen of England I ever knew. I don’t know her but the things you can see now, she was a really warm, nice, beloved lady and that’s all I need to know. It’s obviously not about what I think, it’s about what people think who are much closer to her or felt much closer to her. I respect their grief a lot and that’s why I will show my respect tomorrow night with a minute of silence if it goes through.

On whether he speaks to players ‘one on one’ after reviewing the Napoli game...

Not to all but for some. So, general meeting, showing these situations and they were too obvious – it was actually not needed to say a lot about it but, of course, we did it anyway, or I did it anyway. Then, yes, individual talks will happen as well. Do I question the players? No. If you ask me generally, no. In this situation, yes – ‘Why would you do that, why would we do that?’ But now how I always know it, the situation is like this, we brought ourselves into this situation that nobody could properly react anymore in this game. When James Milner arrives too late in challenges and loses challenges where we usually would win or would be close and stuff, then you know something is wrong. We had obvious football problems – I mean defending, attacking, these kind of things – and what led to these problems is a misjudgement of the situation probably.

I know that the players want to sort the situation, we are not over the moon about our season so far, we don’t think we played exceptional football and cannot improve or whatever. So in this game it looked really like everybody wanted to sort the problem but by himself, and that never gave us the structure to work together. Then a game can look like this if the opponent is then, on top of that, a really good one, which Napoli obviously is, are in a really good moment, played really good stuff. We made it much easier for them anyway, they played a really good game. Yeah, that was the outcome.

In the end, we all agree and know that we could have conceded more goals in this game, there’s no doubt. We could have scored maybe one or two as well but we could have conceded more – which is really crazy. So yes, these were four or five days now of absolute truth. So we didn’t hide anything, we didn’t hold back anything – there was no need for that. We just said how it is but not to knock the players down or whatever. No, just to make sure that where we are now after this game, this is the starting point for us. Now we have to make sure that we sort the problems again together on the pitch.

There was no pointing at each other or whatever. That was the good thing about the game pretty much, that nobody of us was now crazily good and scored four goals and we conceded eight and then they could have said, ‘Offensively we were good.’ No, we were not good in all departments. We had two or three normal performances, and the rest was below the level what they usually do. So, that’s it pretty much. And again, I understand 100 per cent it’s a press conference, you are journalists, I am a manager, we have to answer questions, but my concern is now that we do that, that we show that tomorrow night, that’s all, and step by step. Big problems, you don’t sort very often in life just like this [clicks fingers]. You have to work on it and that’s what we will do.

Published 12th September 2022