Press conference'We have to put a proper shift in' – Jürgen Klopp on Napoli clash
Jürgen Klopp discussed a range of topics as he previewed Liverpool's home clash with Napoli during a press conference on Monday.
The Reds boss spoke to the media at Anfield ahead of hosting the Serie A outfit in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Read a summary of Klopp's briefing below…
On whether he will rest players or go as 'strong' as possible...
First and foremost, it's a pretty quick turnaround since we played against Leeds. I'm not fully aware of the situation with the players who played against Leeds and we still have to wait for that exactly. For sure we will not take risks, but we cannot – if you watch football a little bit, international football, then you would probably know, or will know, that Napoli is in incredible shape, plays incredible football, top of the table in Italy, maybe the team in form in Europe at the moment.
So, this is not a game for massive rotation, probably, it's not about that we have to win 4-0 or whatever to go top of the group. We want to win the game, obviously, that's clear. But the result in the moment is not really important. I have to make the line-up later today, maybe tomorrow morning – we will see – and then we go from there.
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Klopp and Milner's pre-Napoli press conference
On whether there is a point to prove against Napoli after defeat in the reverse fixture or motivation to put things right...
Point to prove? I'm not sure... look, in a Champions League group stage the most important thing is that you get through it and that you get qualified for the knockout stages, for the last 16, and that's what we did. So, from here we go. It's a football game, it's worldwide broadcasted, we have a full Anfield Road, so that means we have to put a proper shift in and that's what we will do, but for that we need to have the players who have the physical possibilities to do that and that's what I don't know in the moment, who that will be.
That's what I'm thinking about and then when I know who we can and will line up then I think about the possible outcome, or whatever, or what we have to do in the specific moments, which system we can play or have to play and all these kind of things. But again, we play against a team who is really pretty well tuned. Everybody knows exactly what they are doing and can see. They are straight forward, they defend together, the counter-attacks are really good and they play some good stuff. That's what we think about and not the first game against Napoli, what we have to put right and all these kinds of things. It's a challenge but that's fine, no problem with that. Yeah, about how I start thinking after the press conference.
On how good it is to have Ibrahima Konate back fully available...
It's very good that we have him back. He was ready for the squad now and now maybe it's the moment where he can play. But again he trained yesterday completely normal again, which is very helpful. He has now a full week, eight [or] nine days, where he could train each session. That's obviously very good. So, yeah. He's, for sure, an option.
On the continued frustrations at going behind in games...
I understand that you ask the question all the time but all the goals were completely different. The last goal we conceded now could not be more different to all the other goals we conceded. It was not a phase where we were down, where Leeds played around us, through us, over us, under us – everything. We set the goal up for them, so you cannot compare it. But yes, of course it's concerning. But it's not [that] we go [into] each game saying make sure we don't concede a first goal – that's clear anyway, [it's] clear in football. So, it's a clear thing. It's not [a] self-fulfilling prophecy or whatever that you talk about it and it happens, or you don't talk about it and it happens.
We had other games where it didn't happen, that's obviously very helpful, we all know that. But I understand the question is coming up, my answer cannot really change to that. Beyond all the problems we had this season, this is one of them, of course, and maybe the one [which] leads to a lot of others. In this specific game against Leeds, it was now not the main problem because we scored the equaliser pretty quickly after that. So, from there we could have won the game, but we didn't.
On whether Napoli have copied Liverpool's playing style and if they can reach the final…
Let's start with the last question – yes. If they play like they play in the moment, they have a good chance to go to the final. That's how it is. How I said, I think Napoli is in the moment the team in form in Europe. That's how it is. They did really well. Did they copy our style? Of course not. Spalletti is a very, very experienced coach, [he] was all over the world working everywhere pretty much and it looks like now really all his experience – with all his experience – and a few really good signings, good decisions, he brought a group together which works on an exceptionally high level together. Looks really good, to be honest.
But they defend differently to what we ever did. It's more man-marking, man-orientated, but from there, yes, high-energetic football definitely. Everybody involved in pretty much everything – defend together, attack together. I'm not sure they copied us, but it's something we like to see as well – that's true.
On whether he is worried about the team being in 'decline'...
So, we are obviously all out there, we do the job in public and I think the judgement for this will be later on in the season, let me say, or maybe at the end of the season. Where we say, 'OK, that's obviously now it for this group of players, or whatever.' Or manager, if you want, whatever question will be asked then. In the moment it's not 100 per cent fair to judge the team because that means the squad, obviously, because we never had them available. We miss, especially now up front, top quality, which is not helpful. It doesn't mean there is no top quality – they have that. But with the amount of games you have, you usually would make changes.
We can't do that, so [it's] a similar situation, a very similar situation in midfield for a long time. Already plenty of players who are out, or were out, came back and these kind of things. So, we had this pretty much everywhere. So, even if it's unfair, it's fine – because that's normal. That's our life and absolutely right to ask these kinds of questions but the answer will be we probably have to answer that properly later on. But we are all, I don't know exactly what the word is, but we are all there to be judged – it's completely fine. Manager, players, that's how life is in professional football. But in this moment I don't think about that at all because we cannot change it anyway. So, we have to go through this.
If you want to get out of something, very often first of all you have to go through it and that's what we are doing obviously. Yes, with some highlights but with some blows as well. We see that and we saw it now only recently. If you can judge single moments and say, 'How can we do that?' What I did after the second goal [against Leeds] – oh my God. I still woke up at night because of that goal but, anyhow, there's a reason why it happened. Is it the right reason? No. But you can see in this situation the boys want to win the game. That's actually the message from this situation.
Instead of defending the draw in this moment in time, because we don't want to have a throw-in for Leeds, you can see that, because then they can play the time down until you got a throw-in, it's a minute. We don't close the centre because we expect to win the ball, [it] means we are already in a better position when we win the ball and in the end we went from possibly outnumbering Leeds in three different situations to a one-v-two in the box. So, and that's what happened, so yes, that makes life not easier, of course not.
We expect more from ourselves, the boys expect more, I expect more from them, but we have to make sure we get there with steps and we had in this game as well really good moments. The [Leeds] goalie had an exceptional game, and you have to work on that as well and use that as well. That's the challenge in the moment. Yes, avoiding the mistakes obviously and keeping the good stuff in and then you get there step by step. This is, now we can say it, it was never a quick fix and now it looks like it's not a quick fix and it's proven. But we will not stop fighting, it's not a question about, and I didn't read anything, but everything will probably be judged about me now as well, which is absolutely fine. When people look at me they would say he looks tired, or whatever. That's normal. I'm not, I'm not. I cannot give that excuse, 'It's too much for me' and stuff like this. It's not. My job is not only being here in the moment when the sun is shining and somebody gives us a trophy. My job is as well to be there when we have to go through a really rough period and I will do that with all I have or, if possible, even more [than] 100 per cent. I'm ready to play against Napoli, but I didn't play against Leeds physically, so that's it.
Now we have to make sure we find 11 to start that we can give them a proper fight in the situation. If you judge it historically and say Liverpool should beat Napoli but for whatever reason, we had this game now a third time in my Champions League time here. It was never an easy game – I can remember one we won. One, right? A very important one. I forgot the other one, 1-1? Then drew the other one, so it was always tough and is this year especially tough. But we are through in the group, that's the positive, and now let's make something special out of this game of us where we can. Football, you know the size of the pitch, we have to win challenges and the whole thing starts with winning the first challenge. Celebrate it in the stands, celebrate it on the pitch – not with running around, just with feeling it.
That's the first step in the right direction and go from there. I'm ready for that and the people gave me the sign after the game they are ready for it as well. It was not the longest lap of appreciation we ever had. But when we went to the stands and we could hear the people singing or whatever, then in that moment you realise, 'OK, that's really special.' So, let's just use this and go from here. It's a rough moment, no doubt about that. Nobody is flying here like life is great. No, but there is only one chance to face it, go for it, and that's what we will do.
On the challenge of 'finding consistency'...
The situation now, when I say it's not a quick fix, then it doesn't mean we always showed or that there's the next game and we are there. Stability is our issue – there were highs and then obviously too many lows in this season, that's clear. But we cannot think about what happens in a few months or whatever. There's the next game coming up and that's our life, and then this next game coming up against Tottenham away, and then there's the next game coming up, Derby, and then it's the next game coming up, Southampton. None of them will come here and just say, 'OK, Liverpool is in a difficult moment, let's give them an easy run through or whatever.' It's actually the opposite, where they all smell the chance and that's what they want to use. That's our situation.
And if that game is over – and that's long from here – but if that game is over then we can hope that all the players from the World Cup come back healthy and all these kind of things and then we can go from there with the rest of the group. We have a proper kind of pre-season, like a chance for us where we can reset a few things and go from there. But then we start away at Aston Villa with a new manager, so I know the preparation now already will be extremely difficult because we will have no idea what they will do. But that's the situation. Nobody is allowed to hide from it. It's just the situation.
I know – I'm long enough in the business – there's always a chance to win the next game and if you do that, from there you can go and there's always a chance to put things right. If you do that in the short term, then you have to make sure you can do it in the long term as well – and that's what we are working on. But it's not now that somebody should expect where we just start flying now like this, especially, of course, because of the quality of the opponents, because they have their own idea as well.
On the most important thing he wants to see from his side tomorrow night...
Fight. You think I want to see now that we start passing around them, backheels and bicycle kicks and these kind of things? Of course not. We have to work and we will. For that, we have to make sure that the boys we line up are ready to do that and then we will do it and then we will see what we get for it. The problem is Napoli will fight as well, but that's fine, that's Champions League, competition at the highest level. How I said, really a team in top form in the moment. Whoever they line up, they can make changes, each striker scores and all these kind of things – that's their situation. We had that situation as well from time to time, so I'm not jealous or whatever. It's fine, well deserved. But we have to be the opponent they don't want to face. But in the moment, I think the mood in the Napoli camp is pretty good – rightly so – that they think, 'Let's give them the next knock.' And we have to fight against that.
On ensuring 'fight' is in the team...
That's, again, our life. You're all right and I'm wrong, that's how it is. But to say we didn't fight against Forest is still not right because you lose a game and that's how it is. You lose a game and then people tell you, 'You didn’t try hard enough.' You can fight obviously in a different way. Against Forest, we ran against a wall, a deep-defending wall, and conceded a completely unnecessary goal. Yes, we could have played better, we could have done a lot of things better – but the boys fight. And this is not a game where you can outrun the opponent because you have the ball all the time and run against a wall, so that's a different thing. The fight is there. Do we do it always with 100 per cent? For that you need the full conviction about what you are doing as well and you need the full physical ability to do that.
Let me say it like this, the fighting spirit is not our problem in this moment – that's there. This group in that aspect didn't change and will not change. I didn't change. But all of a sudden everybody thinks you're not trying hard enough, you don't do this hard enough – that's the life we live, not since yesterday. That's completely normal. How I said, I don't expect you to think more about our situation than I do – I don't think that would be possible anyway – but you come here and ask a few questions and are more or less happy with the answers, that's fine. But my life around is actually the job. I used to say that press conferences are like [a] holiday; I cannot say that anymore because facing your questions when you lose is really tough. In the interviews after a game you lose and when you still have not sorted everything what you think about it, it's a real torture. But again, that's part of the job and I had another look at my wage slip and that's what I'm paid for – and pretty good as well. It's OK, you can criticise, absolutely right, we have to work.