Jürgen Klopp on Southampton, FA Cup celebrations, title race memories and more

Press conferenceJürgen Klopp on Southampton, FA Cup celebrations, title race memories and more

Published 16th May 2022
By Joe Urquhart and Glenn Price

Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool's Emirates FA Cup victory has taken the pressure off his players heading into the final two weeks of the 2021-22 campaign.

The Reds face a swift turnaround following the penalty-shootout win over Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday, which resulted in a second piece of silverware this term after February's Carabao Cup triumph.

Klopp's men travel to Southampton on Tuesday night as they return to Premier League action at St Mary's Stadium in a bid to close the gap to one point behind Manchester City in the title race.

A final-day clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers awaits at Anfield on Sunday before next week's Champions League final with Real Madrid in Paris.

Read a summary of the manager's press conference as he spoke to journalists at the AXA Training Centre on Monday ahead of the Saints match…

Jürgen Klopp's update on squad for Southampton and Fabinho
16th May 2022

NewsJürgen Klopp's update on squad for Southampton and FabinhoJürgen Klopp will assess his squad's physical condition today before considering his line-up for Liverpool's clash with Southampton.

On his memories of the 2018-19 title race with Man City...

It was the last matchday when they played Brighton, right? Brighton went 1-0 up, I could hear it in the stadium, I didn't know they were 1-0 but I thought, 'Probably they scored.' I knew in that moment it's too early, it doesn't help. If we would have heard that sound in the 90th minute, I would have probably celebrated myself. So it was clear that City can respond. It was the last home game, so we had the walk and the only thing I felt was pride of the boys, incredible season, wow, all these kind of things.

It was not a massive disappointment because it was not a surprise really that it happens. But the season was more a surprise than [the] finishing of the season, to be honest. The way the boys performed, the way we learned to put consistency in our performances, that made all the difference. And I knew in that moment we will get another chance, and obviously in life it's all about timing. If we would have this year already 98 points or whatever, then we could become champions. At that time it was not possible with that amount of points. It's all fine.

I'm looking forward to the game tomorrow. Is it a chance, a big chance? I wouldn't say so because I don't know when City dropped points the last time two games in a row historically. So Aston Villa has to play in midweek when they are not used to that. As much as I'm sure they're all professionals and these kind of things, they want to go at City, but City is a pretty good football team. So, I don't expect City to drop points there. But that has no influence on our game for tomorrow. We know in an ideal world we go in the last matchday and are one point behind. That would be, from today's point of view, the perfect scenario and that's what we try to do.

Inside Wembley: Behind the scenes of FA Cup glory

On how he's seen his team grow since that season...

I enjoy a lot of parts of our football, to be honest, in a lot of moments, but the level we played the first 25 minutes against Chelsea, in a final, that was different level, I have to say. We all know how good Chelsea is defensively, how they close the gaps here and there and spaces. I thought in these 25 minutes we were really outstanding and I was really happy to see that because we have to go from here somewhere. And this kind of football against very well-organised teams – for sure one of the best in the world – and being that dominant, I didn't see us doing that too often. We are getting better and better and better in dominating games and controlling games. But that was, for me, the next step. That was really cool. I would love to see it for 90 minutes but probably Chelsea is too good for that and it's absolutely fine.

On the push winning the FA Cup can give the squad...

If we play a season like we play and win the Carabao Cup and fight until the end for the league title, that's, for me, a really good season. But I don't live on my own planet. We all share this planet and I know that the public view is slightly different on that. We know and we feel the responsibility as a team of Liverpool FC that we have to win trophies. It feels much better that we won already two, to be honest. And the FA Cup is obviously a massive competition and winning it felt really big, absolutely big. So, it just takes pressure off the whole thing – that's what makes it more enjoyable. Now we just have to go through it.

If we would have lost the final, the negative scenario that we will not become champions and in a few weeks you are all not shy of reminding me that it all depends on one game if it's a success or not and these kind of things. So, it would be massive if we could win in a few weeks' time the Champions League but we play against obviously the most experienced Champions League team on this planet, so it's not that we are massive favourites or whatever. So, it's an open game and until then I think every little advantage you can get is good. Because they won the league already, so they have what they wanted to win. And now we have a little bit of what we wanted to win and a chance for the other one. So, fair play and now we can play football there. But between now and then, obviously massive two games and one of them tomorrow night.

On what he and his staff can do to invigorate the players physically after a gruelling FA Cup final...

They are pretty much sleeping on the bed, the massage beds, stuff like this. Constantly here the boys try to make everything happen, but if that would happen now in the first week of the season, we would talk differently, this is now game 60, right? So, we have to be really careful, that's clear. We don't finish the season tomorrow, so that's not our last game of the season. That would again be different but the thing is, when did Southampton have the last game before we play tomorrow? I think it was 10 [or] 12 days? [It's] long. So, it's completely different. OK, they might lack a bit [of] rhythm. But if we make changes, we lose that advantage of having rhythm as well. They are completely fresh, but we cannot go there and fall into this game like: 'Oh my God, what's going on here?'

Southampton is – we didn't speak a second, by the way, [about] Southampton, so maybe now is a good moment – it's always a really well-drilled team and full of energy and all these kinds of things. [They] didn't get the results for a while they wanted. Now, they have the last home game of the season. What would you do if you have lost two, three games too much in the last few weeks? [The] last home game [is] the impression you leave before you go on summer holiday, more or less. [It's] better [to leave] a good one. So, this is this high energetic, well-organised team we face. Defending well, press like crazy and counter-attacking with all they have, plus don't make silly fouls because [James] Ward-Prowse shoots the ball from pretty much each corner of the pitch into the goal. That's the challenge we face, imagine we go there with 10 players, or eight players, who played 120 minutes. That makes no sense, so that's why we have to make changes. I don't know how many, we will see and I will talk to the players, obviously, but that's tough.

Now if we come back, I know it's better if you moan and argue when you have won something, [rather] than when you lose. There are two more matchdays in this week, obviously, we played Saturday and it was possible that we play 120 minutes, and they thought the best day for us to play the next game is the Tuesday. So, you could have given us the Wednesday, theoretically. I think that's not possible because of the Europa League final... so, and then, Thursday maybe? So, then we would've played on Thursday a 90-minute game and on Sunday, which is the last matchday, which is [a] normal rhythm from when you play Europa League, you play Thursday, Sunday. Nobody thought we could give them a day more rest, so that's now the whole time like this and I have to sit here and say it.

People say: 'Does he stop whining?' Stuff like this. [It's] because nobody else is doing it, you all don't think about it for a second. 'Oh it's tough, huh? Maybe it would've been better if you play on Thursday.' Yeah, it would've been slightly better. So, 120 minutes and then Tuesday. Come on. That's really massive, so we will see. But, again, I can't wait to play the game, now we know where we play, I can't wait to play the game tomorrow. I'm really excited about it and the boys who will start the game, they will go with all they have to make it happen.

On how long he was able to enjoy the FA Cup win before thinking about Southampton...

When the plane landed... until the plane landed, to be honest. I was in a good mood, but then I got tired a little bit, but it's all fine. Again, I come back to that. Why don't we have the FA Cup as the last game of the season? Sometimes it's the last game, sometimes it's not the last game; Germany the same. So that would, obviously, help with celebrations as well, because it's obviously completely different when you play a few days later again, but it's all fine. It felt outstanding enough, to be honest.

What I really enjoyed was the long party on the pitch with the people, everybody stayed in the stadium. That was outstanding and, actually, you don't need a lot more, that's [what it's] all about and then you can go somewhere and have a few beers quickly, then you can have too many beers and then you can't remember it anymore, so that makes no real sense. I will never forget the faces I saw, and the things I felt in the moment when we stood there in our corner with our people. Everybody was in pretty good shape, you could see it meant the world to the boys and being really together. Then minutes, hours in the dressing room, when they are really... everybody starts getting childish again [and] running around and all these kinds of things. It's really cool, so, no, celebration was fine. Since we landed back in Liverpool, we were tired and then the Southampton mood. That's strange, 10.30 next day we had Southampton analysis meeting – nobody came late! So, that's it.

Published 16th May 2022