A resolute Jürgen Klopp has vowed to correct Liverpool’s faltering season and denied he needs a break after a difficult time in his private and professional life.
Liverpool face RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday knowing the competition realistically represents their final chance of silverware this season after their Premier League defeat at Leicester on Saturday. Klopp conceded Liverpool’s title defence was over after the 3-1 loss and was then focus of groundless rumours on social media that he was quitting as manager.
Liverpool fans responded with a show of support at Anfield on Sunday, draping a banner that read “Jurgen Klopp YNWA” behind the Kop but Klopp, who was unable to attend his mother’s funeral in Germany last week because of Covid-19 restrictions, has emphatically dismissed talk of a premature end to his Anfield reign.
“The banner is nice but not necessary,” he said. “I don’t feel that I need special support at the moment but it’s nice. What were the rumours again? Did I get the sack or did I leave by myself? Neither.
“I don’t need a break. The last thing I want to do is talk about private things in a press conference but everyone knows that privately we have been through an absolutely tough time. But that was not just three weeks ago, that was a much longer time already. We always deal with it as a family, 100%.
“I’m 53. I have been in football 30 years. I have been a coach for 20. I can split things. I can switch off, one thing from the other thing. I do not carry things around. If I am private, I’m private. If it is football and it is the workplace, I am here.
“Of course I’m influenced by things that are happening around me but nobody needs to worry about me. I might not look like it – because the weather is not cool, I’m white and the beard gets more and more grey, I don’t sleep a lot and my eyes look like this – but it’s all fine. I’m full of energy.
“I don’t want to have the situation but the situation is an interesting challenge. Nobody wrote a book about how you came into a situation like this and how did you solve it. But we will sort it. While we are doing it, it could be tricky but sort it by playing football, sort it by sticking even more together. Sort it by fighting with all you have, sort it by learning more than you have learned in each season before. That’s the plan we have.”
Liverpool trail the leaders Manchester City by 13 points after a dreadful run of results that includes three consecutive defeats, three successive league defeats at Anfield and four league wins in 13 games since their Champions League group campaign ended on 9 December. Klopp insists he is responsible for the downturn – a claim rejected by the captain, Jordan Henderson – but will not change the style that has gained Premier League and Champions League success in recent seasons.
“I understand that a lot of people are not happy with results. I get that,” he said. “I am responsible for it 100%. But we still played some pretty good stuff. You can forget that but we cannot because that is the start of changing things. If you change a situation like we are in with bad football? I’ve never heard of that.
“You need results but we are Liverpool. We cannot sit back and wait like some other teams do until 60 minutes before we go over the halfway line. We have to be dominant. And we will do that. I am ready. The boys are ready. We will give our absolute everything to sort it.”
Henderson maintains Liverpool’s players are to blame for a run that has jeopardised the champions’ prospects of finishing in the top four and heightened the significance of the last-16 tie against Julian Nagelsmann’s in-form Leipzig. Tuesday’s first leg is being played in Budapest because of travel restrictions in Germany.
“I know the manager tries to protect us as much as possible in the press but as players we know it is down to us to change the situation we are in,” the captain said. “We take full responsibility on results and for performances. It is down to us to keep working hard and keep fighting to change this tough period that we are going through.”
As for the rumours that circulated about Klopp on social media, Henderson said: “I don’t think I even need to comment on someone sitting behind a keyboard making up rumours about the manager or the players in the dressing room. Not true.
“I quite liked the one where Robbo [Andy Robertson] and Ali [Alisson] were having a fight about something. That made us chuckle, but that was just a rumour too.”