After Liverpool lost to Newcastle last weekend, Liverpool's 48-year-old tactician addressed talk of challenging for the title and transfer signings: both aren't things he's talking about. The idea is to work with the players, focus on the next game, and assess his squad over a period that's longer than just a month or two.
While Liverpool might dip into next month's transfer window, Jürgen Klopp has maintained a clear idea on how he wants to work at England's most decorated club. "Play football with a recognisable brand," Klopp reportedly told Bild about his goal for Liverpool this season. In his first Liverpool interview, the former Borussia Dortmund manager was unequivocal about the belief he had in the existing group of the players. They didn't need to be burdened with unnecessary expectations akin to carrying a "a backpack of 20 kilos more" when confidence and belief may have been more fragile than some suspected.
When Liverpool's manager invoked the spirit of Arsène Wenger on the subject of player recruitment in the January transfer window, it wasn't that revelatory given what we've seen and heard in the past two months or so.
"If your boss thinks you’re not in the best day in your life maybe he’ll get another one but that’s not how the world should run," Klopp mused. "If we need something we will do it, not talk about it before. But in this moment I don’t think about it. We are prepared for any situation, we have 24 hours always at work. We always watch players on video but if we take them in winter, in summer or never, I don’t know at this moment.
"It’s much more important to work with the people here and if you trust them they have to feel it, and not just for two days but for a longer time. If we have problems it’s not with quality, it’s maybe with concentration or other things. But we don’t know if players we get will do it better. I’d give the advice to stay cool and see what happens."
For Klopp, the issue of player recruitment was as simple: it started and ended with him. The main concern was to work with group that he thought was good enough to show more than they had done under Brendan Rodgers. Count the number of players who have come out in praise of their new manager; some have done so repeatedly, joining opposition managers, former Liverpool players, and envious rival fans. A manager who spent the time he did at Mainz 05 and BVB understands the phenomenon that is people actually getting better over time.
Whether it was praising the contributions of Dejan Lovren, restoring the vim and vigour of Jordon Ibe, strongly supporting Simon Mignolet, freeing "a caged lion" in Mamadou Sakho, or soothing a raging Alberto Moreno, Klopp has worked closely with improving and building the confidence of the players at his disposal. Sometimes it has been as simple as playing good players regularly in their best positions or simplifying instructions, but there should be no doubt that Klopp is extremely good at what he does. Making matters appear straightforward under such pressure and expectancy is trickier than some think. Now, players are returning from injury to provide further depth for a squad fighting on multiple fronts.
"I don’t feel we have to look at other people just because they cost £20 million," Klopp said bullishly. "Flanno will come back in next week. Then we’ll have two full-backs left, two right. We have four centre-backs when Mama is back. Kolo was the fourth because of his age but now he’s always available. In midfield we have Hendo back so that’s like a new option for us.
"We didn’t use them until now. We have other offensive players and we have more strikers than others, so where is the space? In January I don’t know how many games we have, maybe every three days, so we have to be prepared. We know all the players in world football. Some fit us, some don’t, so we will see what happens."
There may be a signing or two to come in January with strong links to Neven Subotić and Kevin Großkreutz, but as Klopp would say, we'll see what happens.