Press conferenceKlopp on FA Cup approach, defensive changes and Conor Bradley
In the third part of his pre-Nottingham Forest press conference, Jürgen Klopp discussed Liverpool’s defensive record, his admiration for the Emirates FA Cup and the development of Reds youngster Conor Bradley.
Liverpool travel to the City Ground for a quarter-final clash with Steve Cooper’s Forest on Sunday evening, aiming to earn a place in the final four of this season’s competition.
Klopp previewed the fixture in the east Midlands by answering questions from journalists at the AXA Training Centre – read on to see what he had to say in the final section of his briefing…
On whether his appreciation for the FA Cup has grown and attitude towards it changed...
It’s actually the first time someone questioned my attitude, usually they question my technical abilities and stuff like this, but never question my attitude. I didn’t change, not at all. If you look at my German history, most of the finals I lost, it’s a big number, I lost in the German cup final. So, obviously, when you have the players available for both competitions in this case, or three competitions then it’s OK, then you can do it. If not, you have to make changes. Then people think: why is he doing that?
Because we come back to the point with all my knowledge, I ask the players for an awful lot until a specific point, then take them out, because even if they want [to play], they should not be in the situation that they have to deliver again. That’s it. That’s why we had changes.
I’ve said before, it’s not always that we’ve been unlucky, but we had not the best draw as well. It’s not that we thought, ‘Oh, let’s go to Chelsea away, [and] play [Manchester] United away’ or stuff like this. It’s not exactly what you wanted, or Chelsea at home in a situation where we didn’t have the players, and stuff like this. So, no, [my] attitude didn’t change. I always wanted to go to Wembley, it just didn’t happen.
On whether the difference is that his selection options are stronger than in previous seasons...
It changes a lot. For the FA Cup, it changes in between what we have for the FA Cup. So, like, for a league game we make changes and stuff like this. For the FA Cup, the players available, you need a specific amount of senior players available that you can bring in with the young guns. If you play only with young guns then it’s really tricky. We had to do that as well, from time to time. But it’s then really difficult. It makes a difference, actually.
On the change in defensive solidity in the second half of the season and what has improved...
[It’s] how it always is. We had to re-adjust our defensive structure again after no centre-half played pretty much for a full season. How we work together and the way we defend is not special, but it’s quite front-footed, let me say it like this; to get there you leave sometimes too big spaces in between the lines, not all of us are ready to step up and that’s why we had to.
We had to become solid again and that’s what we were working on. It was not horrible, our defensive record, obviously, but it was not as good as it could have been, because we had all to re-adjust. [We had] one centre-half who was new and two centre-halves who didn’t play for ages, and the one centre-half that was new didn’t play for a while as well at his old club [because he] was injured.
That’s obviously really important that everything works together, that we are fine-tuned. It’s an easy explanation. It’s not bad defending, it was just as good as we were used to and, it’s not only the last line, it’s exactly the same for midfield and for the frontline. But since, that looks better tuned again, even better, but we still needed five goals [conceded] in 16 games.
How many blocks did we have in a decisive moment? Robbo, I think, had two good ball recoveries in the six-yard box [against Arsenal] and Ali had a massive save, so if they are all in then we have nine goals in 16 games and it doesn’t sound too good anymore. It comes all together. It’s the most important thing: we had to get used to each other again.
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On Bradley’s development...
Conor, top boy. All good. Because we had a full squad in the last [few] weeks, he was not with us all the time. Obviously we had the spell where he was pretty much in all sessions with us, but not now in the last few weeks. So, I cannot say now exactly how he [has] developed in the last few weeks because he was not here. But, from the things I know and what I saw, [he is] a wonderful, talented boy with a big heart. A real fighter, and it’s a joy to have him around – that’s what I can say.