Jürgen Klopp's pre-Man City press conference: 'It's challenging but exciting as well'

Q&AJürgen Klopp's pre-Man City press conference: 'It's challenging but exciting as well'

By James Carroll, Glenn Price and Chris Shaw


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Jürgen Klopp is looking forward to the unique challenge his Liverpool side face on Saturday lunchtime when they travel to Manchester City.

The Reds return to action following the international break with a trip to Etihad Stadium as first and second in the current Premier League standings meet.

Klopp previewed the showdown by attending a press conference at the AXA Training Centre on Friday afternoon – read on for a summary of what he had to say…

On how different Liverpool are compared to last season's trip to Man City...

I don't even know the line-up from last season – not because I don't want to know it, I just don't think like this and I don't want to compare and stuff like this. We had to improve from last season, that's clear. I actually think without any kind of changes we would have improved from last season because the last season was just not good enough, was not ourselves and these kind of things. We had to make changes as well and we did that. I'm not sure if I described the team as '2.0', I think I described rather the project or the things we have to do as we need to create 'Liverpool 2.0'. Because we had a very successful team, super team and super boys, super characters, but time is running, we all get older and stuff like this, and we will never be successful because you were successful.

We knew it but [that's] what we had to do and that's what we did. So far it looks like we brought in good players, I know that, and now we have to make sure we bring that consistently on the pitch. But Saturday is a big one, no doubt about that, it's the strongest team in the world for the last years, so that's a massive task for each football team in the world and for us as well. But we will give it a try anyway.

On City's run of 23 wins at home...

What I know, the longer a run is going, the more likelier it is that it ends! So we had that as well – it was Burnley, I think. They are extremely strong and there is nothing what I can say that makes them weaker, to be honest, otherwise I would say it constantly, repeat it. But there's nothing. It's a tough game but whatever happened last year, two years ago, three years ago is just a memory, it's nothing else. We have to be ready for tomorrow and that's what we try to be. I've said millions of times, if we can be really uncomfortable for them then we have a chance. If they feel comfortable in their game, there's no team who can beat them.

But if we can change that then there's a chance and we have to take it then on top of that because that's not given then as well. But I like it. So, I can't remember my feelings last year before the game but I probably was not massively optimistic and thought, 'OK, let's go there and we change everything there now in that game.' It feels like we are a bit closer, that's good, but on matchday you have to win the decisive battles on the pitch. For that, you need to be close enough to these decisive duels – for that, you have to be compact. And then on top of that, you have to play football yourself a lot. It's all challenging but all exciting as well. Yeah, let's see.

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On whether Mohamed Salah can still improve…

Of course he can improve but that's all about then consistency and little moments in games, it would be a shame if he is not 43 and that we ask for that! He expects it from him. Why would he come and be the first in the building every morning and the last one going out if he doesn't want to improve? Yeah, of course he can. But it's really not about that. It's about [that] he gained that experience over the years that he knows much more about the game, so where are the positions, where is that. Obviously a completely different player to the boy who arrived here – and he was good at that time, that's why we signed him.

But now the experience in dealing with different situations, he's a completely different animal actually. He's really good with his teammates. All the offensive players look up to him, but he's really supportive to them and that's a really good connection. That's something. In the beginning Mo had to be more for himself to find his feet himself and find a way to impress me, to impress everybody, to prove everybody wrong maybe, and stuff like this. That's now completely settled. And having still this desire to score, that makes him the player that he is and that's pretty special. I've said it probably a million times: long may it continue.

On the link-up between Salah and Darwin Nunez and whether it is the result of work in training or a natural connection…

You cannot become a Liverpool player if you are not really football-smart. So, that means they are really football-smart and what would you do if you are on the ball and you sprint with 900mph down the line and then you think, 'Who could have the same speed and is there in the right position?' Probably Mo.'? The other players are quick but that's why Darwin and Mo [can combine], that's where it's clicking and that's where they look for each other and stuff like this. But it's not that they cut out the other boys, it's just a different way of playing.

That's like when we played with Bobby [Firmino] more centrally but a bit deeper. I'm not exactly sure what the numbers are between Sadio [Mane] and Mo but they probably were pretty good as well because they were the first two arriving in the opposition box, so if you want to pass the ball it's probably to one of them. That's it. Generally, from the beginning and that's what I said before, how Mo supports the boys: Darwin came here, big expectations and Mo understood the situation probably the best and saw his potential and wanted to help him. Without having now the longest conversation because of some language issues, that for sure was the start for a pretty special partnership.

On how Liverpool and City have managed to take the top two places in the table at this stage...

What we did to get the points, I can tell you. What City exactly did [...] I don't know 100 per cent. A point here, a point there and stuff like this. Unexpectedly, obviously. Everybody probably in the whole country having City in their mind before each game thinks, 'They will win that... they will win that...' and most of the time it happens. That's just the quality they have and the biggest strength they have, with all the things they won in the last few years, the desire they show to win the next one is pretty special, to be honest. I think there was not one point they lost because they were not really there, not at all. They are in the games and the opponent had to fight extremely hard to get something out of the game.

What we had to do now we spoke about already. We had to change and at the same moment we had to improve and that's obviously a bit of a real challenge. To change is one thing, but it has to work out immediately. Imagine we would have changed and it wouldn't have worked out. Famously in the last few years, new players came in and needed a while to start for us and stuff like this, but that was as well because we had a pretty stable formation.

Now, we opened the door in midfield but that meant as well our boys who were already here are still really young like Harvey, Curtis – especially Harvey, for example – and the other boys who came had to pretty much step in immediately. The luck we had was that we had a proper pre-season together. If there is a normal summer, like next summer, it would make it much more tricky with all the tournaments, the Copa America and the Euros. It would be completely different. But here we had time now to work together and that gave us the opportunity to find together a bit quicker and that's why we could have results.

To create a new team and a new team dynamic, it helps if you have to overcome difficulties and stuff like this. You don't want to create them. In training camps you want to create them by giving them a physical job that they can barely do and then when they get through this they feel the pain together. During the season, it's obviously much more difficult but we got through that with the stories of the games we played, with being down to 10 men and nine men and stuff like this and overcoming these situations. We needed luck there as well. We had it, I think the boys deserved it but that gave us a direction.

I am far off sitting here now and feeling we've [only] got City – the only thing we have to do is go there, find the entrance and we've got the three points. That is not the case. Our development goes in the right direction but I'm really not there and saying, 'City be aware...' or whatever. They are who they are and they are strong, extremely strong, and we have to be as strong as somehow possible and let's see what we can get for it.

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On whether Alexis Mac Allister is facing his biggest test in the No.6 position...

First and foremost, I don't know the line-up in this moment. I don't know. We have to talk to a lot of people before I make that [decision]. No, because I understand that from the outside world it is always about how is a player in this position, in this position and in this position but in the end it's about how the whole team is set up. Is Macca a natural born six? No. Did football develop in the last years in directions we couldn't have imagined before? Yes. Does that mean that a player like Macca can play the six? Definitely.

It depends [on] how the whole team defends, that's it. Easy as that. If you do that properly then you have an incredible player in a central position who can find passes, who is a forward-thinking player and all these kind of things. So, do you want to have somebody there who is just knocking players down and in possession he thinks, 'It is not my job, give me a break!' and stuff like this and then it is not that easy. I like him there a lot, to be honest, and we as a team can benefit a lot from it if we make sure we have a really compact formation. That's what we need – and that's what we especially need tomorrow, of course.

On whether tomorrow's game will show how close Liverpool are to City...

I don't know before the game. So look, a lot of things can happen. We play bad and lose. Possible. We play bad and win, I would say it's unlikely. It's pretty much not possible against City. We play very good and don't win, it's possible. That's football. We play very good and win... they all would happen to exactly the same team. This team does not have to pass a test now or something like this, the direction we are going is really the right one. That is obvious. We are not perfect, we saw that. OK it was international break, but the game before the last Premier League game was Toulouse and we were not good there. I made a lot of changes so it is my responsibility but it was still not good. Against Luton, we were not good. Got a point, all fine, could have won the game – but if we had won the game, we were [still] not good that night.

But in a lot of games so far this season we were good and deserved what we got in the different situations. So, with 10 men, we were outstanding for a team one man down. With nine men, we were exceptional with two men down. These kind of things were all us, but they are nothing to do with the next game. Of course we play that game [tomorrow], but it's not a test of how close can we get to City. It is just really a super-exciting football game, one of them I would watch wherever I am on the planet. I would. Why wouldn't you watch this game? It has everything there you need. For us, it is not about being excited – that kind of excitement like, 'Oh my God, can't wait!' – we have to prepare properly and we know we have to be at our best to have a chance. If we have that, it is about us to take it. We will see.



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This article has been automatically translated and, while all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, some errors in translation are possible. Please refer to the original English-language version of the article for the official version.