In fullJürgen Klopp's Leicester City matchday programme notes
Read the latest column from Jürgen Klopp in tonight's official matchday programme in full.
Good evening and welcome to Anfield for our Carabao Cup match against Leicester City. I welcome Brendan Rodgers, his players, staff, officials and the supporters of our visitors.
When Brendan returns here he does so of course as an opponent but also as a great friend of our club. A friendship based on shared past experiences and fellowship. A friendship from LFC’s side based on gratitude for his huge contribution to the progress this club has made in the past decade.
All that said, the friendship is paused for the 90 minutes – that much is clear for both sides.
Leicester, under Brendan, are again one of the most adventurous and exciting sides in our league. Honestly, I love watching them play. Less so having to play against them.
Winning the FA Cup last season was a brilliant collective achievement for Leicester of course. But for Brendan and his staff, I could not have been more pleased for them.
Brendan enjoyed incredible success in Scotland with Celtic. Their dominance under him was frightening. I think consolidating that by winning a trophy in England also is a big statement. Their performance in the final outlined why, under Brendan, they are the real deal to consistently challenge for honours.
They are the complete package. An excellent squad of players with great balance and who are developing season-on-season. They have new training facilities to go with a ground that is always full and passionately behind them. And an outstanding football leader in Brendan. Cool mix.
Today, though, we are rivals and we desperately want to end their participation in this cup competition. There is a semi-final place up for grabs. We want it and so do they. So, let's go. Game on.
Of course, it is not possible to write this column without acknowledging the growing anxiety in society and football around the COVID situation. Since I last wrote in this programme we have had confirmed cases ourselves within our group. These have been publicised. That we have these cases is not cool and as a human being it does cause worry.
It is difficult for everyone with the uncertainty around. That does inevitably cause concern.
I am now going to repeat myself, but I think we have to keep going until we are told it is not safe or right to do so any more. Trust me, if or when that moment comes we will follow what we are told is right for the health and well-being of everyone. We wouldn’t challenge it for one second.
As of this moment, writing this, that hasn’t happened yet. The process for us last week, after learning of players recording positive test results, was to inform the Premier League and wait for guidance and instruction.
Ahead of Tottenham away in particular we were in communication with the league, via their medical advisory guys, and it was apparent that postponement of the game wouldn’t have been something they would consider given the level of infection within our group. So, we follow that guidance and we play.
We play until we are told we should stop. We have to trust those making the decisions.
I do passionately believe we have to look at the schedule as part of this though. My view on the lack of recovery and preparation time for players over this period is well-documented.
This, though, is different. Even though I don’t think it is right in normal times, it feels wrong to insist teams play fixtures within two days of each other in this present situation.
Every squad will have been impacted by the current COVID crisis in some way, clearly some more than others. But we cannot put our hands over our eyes and pretend this is a ‘normal’ situation. It isn’t. It’s extraordinary. And on that basis I implore those with the power to make change to intervene.
Please do so for the welfare of the players. It’s nothing to do with competition or advantage. To think that in the present climate you would need to be pretty craven.
Look at the situation. Look at the physical strain on the athletes already. Let’s work collaboratively to find a solution. It is not OK to ask teams to play twice in two days at the moment. It is absolutely not OK, actually. It would be entirely wrong. Someone has to act.
I always like to conclude these columns by addressing the supporters directly. I’m not someone who is often lost for words but at the moment it’s a struggle to think of the right words.
There is not much I can say that brings encouragement or comfort. I know each household will have its own issues to contend with at this moment.
There'll be people here tonight and reading this gripped with worry about what might happen in the coming days and weeks.
Our supporter base reflects society. We’ll have fans who work for the health service and are about to put themselves in harm’s way again and again for the benefit of the rest of us. Likewise other essential workers and the emergency services.
We’ll have fans who will be isolating this Christmas, unable to spend time with friends and loved ones. We’ll have fans frightened about the impact on their jobs and livelihoods. We’ll have fans dealing with the grief of losing loved ones. We’ll have fans with various difficulties in their lives which the current situation exacerbates and amplifies to a point it might feel at times unbearable.
What can I say in these circumstances that isn’t reductive or insensitive to things that really matter?
I suppose it’s this: the common connection we all share is LFC. And via that link, we are family. We are a community.
I send you all my love and my best wishes, as part of my extended family. I send hope that things will get better and we will still be together in this amazing place more often again in the future, immediate or otherwise.
This time of year means different things to different people, those with certain beliefs and those with none at all. But I think what unites all of us around this period is our collective sense of community. Expressing love and care for other people. That’s what Christmas means to me. And the current situation strengthens those feelings if I’m being honest.
Please prioritise looking after yourselves and each other. That’s my team talk for the LFC family. The best gift you can give your community is to protect each other in times when it’s most needed. That is certainly the situation right now.
If it is within our ability to do so, let’s make sure we help anyone who feels like they are walking alone.
All my love and best wishes.