‘Super-intense, but good fun’ – Klopp on Reds’ end-of-season schedule
Jürgen Klopp tackled a number of topics in the second part of his pre-Manchester City press conference on Thursday, describing Liverpool’s fixture schedule as ‘super-intense, but good fun.’
The Reds’ latest assignment comes in the form of the Emirates FA Cup semi-final clash with Pep Guardiola’s men at Wembley later today.
It follows hot the heels of last weekend’s 2-2 Premier League draw at Etihad Stadium, while both teams booked their places in the last four of the Champions League in midweek.
Among the topics on the agenda at the media briefing, Klopp also discussed resting Mohamed Salah against Benfica and the Reds’ end-of-season ambitions.
Read on to see what the manager had to say…
On Salah’s form and whether the team are feeling any fatigue due to the schedule…
He had, definitely, the most intense period in January in his whole career. The tournament [Africa Cup of Nations] went to the wire, that meant they played the final, 120 minutes; the role in the team, he has massive responsibility on his shoulders, had to do dressing room meetings and stuff like this, so there was no recovery at all. Being a superstar for a whole country, everybody wants something, that’s always super-intense. And, again, that’s OK for the boys, but it’s not that now there is a period there is down – there is no down or whatever, it is completely normal.
A player like Mo who likes to dribble and is really good [at it], scored outstanding goals with dribbling, would I go to him now, ‘Don’t dribble?’ No, but dribble in the right moment, keep the ball, keep it simple and all these kind of things, but that’s a process. The problem is it’s not a long process, maybe a week or two or something like this, but the boys are in focus every day. I know he will finish strongly, it’s just the moment we have reset and each game for us is a final, since the beginning of January. It’s crazy.
I’m not happy about making mistakes but it’s not that I think, ‘How could we make these mistakes like we did last night?’ I’m sure at one point there would be a proper break, so if we can deal with it, with our own mistakes, if we can deal with problems in games, if we come through and judge them right and use them right, I think it’s more healthy than it would be just on the highest level. We have to grind out results – yes, sorry.
We needed more luck against City than City against us, true. More often Ali than they needed Ederson, that’s true, but there is no problem. Again, we didn’t play our best game, City was closer to what they are really good at. We know that, so let’s see. Imagine we would play good, how that could look then. That’s my concern, that we really just stay in the situation, stick to the process, do what we do, try to improve and go again.
On being the first Liverpool team in history to be in this position at this stage of a season in all competitions…
Imagine we could have exactly the same for five years? That would be great, always in three semi-finals and winning nothing. The world is not ready for this kind of success! It’s true, it’s great and actually, I’m really happy for the boys because in this club it’s so difficult to do something that our fathers and grandfathers didn’t do already. This specific thing, nobody did in this club, which is really special. But, yes, I know if that’s the success this year then it will not be seen as such in the future.
On ‘feeling the intensity’ as a manager…
Only recently I saw a picture of myself in 2015 when I arrived here, and unfortunately I see myself every morning in the mirror, so obviously the last six years were really intense! It’s a different person. So, we will see. Until the day before yesterday, Chelsea had the exact same programme as us, like same amount of games because of the League Cup final. Thomas [Tuchel] said it, it’s really super-intense but it’s good fun as well. I would really love to have a full week to train, oh my God. We don’t have to think about any birthday presents, give me a full week of training and that would be outstanding, just in the middle of the season. But we don’t have it, so it’s fine and we deal with it. That’s why we have to make changes, as long as we can do it and all these kind of things.
In the year when we nearly became champions, went to the Champions League final, won that, stuff like this, we didn’t have the squad size and came through. We didn’t become champions for 11 centimetres, millimetres, whatever, but won the Champions League – crazy, imagine that? Things are possible but it’s always intense, this year it’s especially intense and still enjoyable. How I said, is it likely that we win four competitions? No. Three competitions? No. One more, hopefully, would be nice but even that would [require] exactly the same effort.
I think Pep said it last night, people speak about the great mentality of the City players, it was for sure great mentality, but if Atletico could have scored a goal then we don’t talk. That’s the difference. We draw at City or we lose 3-2 then everybody says, ‘That’s just not good enough.’ So, it’s OK, that’s our life. These small things are really important and make all the difference. And being ready for that all the time is really difficult but very interesting, exciting as well.
On whether achieving a potential quadruple impacts the squad’s mindset heading into the semi-final…
We don’t think about the quadruple, how could you? Imagine I would sit here, you would not ask me about it and I would just constantly start referring about the quadruple – you would think I’m completely mad. It’s a massive [game]. We play three days later against Man United, right? We are not short of confidence or whatever, or we don’t need another reason that we want to be successful.
Yes, winning against City would be outstanding but it doesn’t happen too often to nobody in the world of football. So if you can achieve it, outstanding. There’s not one percentage that if we win we are a step closer to whatever you want to call it. It [just] means we are in the final of the FA Cup, which would then mean we play either Crystal Palace or Chelsea – none of them are tourists or whatever. They would go there and want to win it as well. There’s nothing about it. We don’t even think for a second until after the game. We just prepare the game. If you tell me during the game, ‘Is it FA Cup?’, I realise in the moment when there’s a penalty shootout. That’s all. You just go for it and try to do the right stuff on the pitch. We have no further or bigger picture. That’s not how it is – at least not for me.