herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Klopp raps Neville's 'funny' title advice

Liverpool will be aiming to do better than last season’s beating by Spurs at Wembley when they meet today at the same venue
Liverpool will be aiming to do better than last season’s beating by Spurs at Wembley when they meet today at the same venue
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Pundit Gary Neville

Jurgen Klopp has hit back at pundit Gary Neville after the former Manchester United defender suggested Liverpool should abandon the Champions League to boost their Premier League title hopes.

Neville this week said the Reds' best chance of ending a 29-year wait to be English champions would be enhanced if they "kicked into touch" their European ambitions.

Klopp found the suggestion from the 43-year-old, who having had a spell as England assistant coach was sacked after three months as Valencia boss, laughable.

"How should that work? What do we do? We don't play Champions League or what?" said the German, whose side currently top the table with a 100 per cent record after four matches and are seen as the main challengers to champions Manchester City. "Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that would work. You bring your kids in the Champions League? That would be funny!

"I don't want to be too critical because I don't know exactly how he said it but sitting in an office and talking about football is completely different to doing the job..

"What did he say about Manchester United in that case? The club he's more interested in. Nothing?

"I don't know exactly what it means but to focus on one competition can only be if, maybe, you are already nearly out of the competition.

"If it's late in the season that you see you have a chance to do that or do this and all that stuff.

"Last year, for example, we had no chance to focus on one competition because we had to qualify for the Champions League and I don't think that even Gary Neville would have said: 'Quarter-finals of the Champions League, let City win'."

Liverpool head to Tottenham today for their first real big test of the season.

It is the start of a packed schedule of seven matches - including Champions League matches against Paris St-Germain and Napoli - in 23 days.

That means Klopp, who has so far made just one change to his starting line-up, will have to utilise his squad and that is likely to see a debut for summer signing Fabinho.

The £43.7million signing has not featured in a squad since being an unused substitute on the opening day of the campaign as he has been given time to adjust to Klopp's training methods.

"Actually I don't like to compare players but we had similar players and questions about Robbo (Andrew Robertson) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain," he said.

"The thing is it is absolutely no problem. I don't like the situation. Fabinho is full of desire and wants to be involved and I have to tell him 'You're not involved this week' and that's not nice.

System

"It is only the job to do sometimes because we have players that work together that much longer.

"He comes from another league, a completely different system which Monaco played, and we have a good team together so that takes time.

"The plan was - and is still - he will make us better and that is what we are working on.

"From my point of view it is all fine but I know the situation is not like a few people expected."

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino has backed Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks to become a "perfect" midfielder but only if he learns to play through pain.

Winks, 22, is on the comeback from a serious ankle injury which required surgery over the summer and curtailed his blossoming career.

He has made three substitute appearances this season and is now closing in on a start ahead of today's clash at Wembley.

"Harry has all the profile of the perfect midfielder," Pochettino said. "But I don't want to talk too much and praise him because if so his head (grows big).

"When we talk about midfielders - like Spanish midfielders like Xavi and Andres Iniesta - he's like this type of player.

"Football is his focus, not business that is around football. Maybe if he learns this he will be one of the best midfielders in England.

"If you ask all the players today, it is impossible to play without pain in some point of your body.

"You use your body for work. You push your body from a very young age. It is not a healthy sport and you always try to push your body and cross the limits.

"For him, it was new. He had a serious operation last summer and it is something that will always be there.

"The psychology is that you have suffered and are not free. You need to learn to live with this and he is now much better and stronger in his mentality. I am sure he will make a step up."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News