Speaking post-match following a convincing 3-0 victory over a tricky Middlesbrough side, Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp lauded his squad for facing down the recent criticism of their form and simply proving their quality on the pitch.
“First half we were good, second half was even better,” Klopp noted. “So because of a few things, it’s all about getting used to our quality. There were moments in the first half when our movement became a little static and we gave it away too easily.
“However, we played much better in the second half. We could have finished more often; we had a lot of opportunities in and around the box, where everyone in the stadium thought that maybe we would find who would shoot the ball.
“But 3-0 is a wonderful result and the performance was really good. It was clear, lively, aggressive—everything you want to see in a football game."
Adam Lallana was involved in all three goals in a Man of the Match display, scoring two and assisting a resurgent Divock Origi for another. Klopp was glowing in his assessment of the masterclass performance, shedding some light on the source of the former Southampton man’s recent eye for goal that has seen him surpass his goal haul for all of last season:
“Adam is important even when he doesn’t score, but of course [his goals] are nice because he is in those types of situations.”
“The important thing is that around one year ago, he came into my office—and I was really happy with his performance [at the time]—but he was [frustrated, saying that] ‘I can’t finish! I don’t score!’ [I told him] that it was because he wasn’t in the right spaces. Now he plays a little bit deeper and he is in the right spaces.
“It’s all about being involved, being protected, feeling free and being really offensive in the one moment and protecting the other guy when he’s being offensive in the other moment.”
Of course, the major story coming into the match was the German manager’s decision to drop the struggling Loris Karius for backup Simon Mignolet. The Belgian international was comfortable on the day, making three fairly routine saves against a ‘Boro side who, with a paltry 13 strikes through 16 league games, are rock bottom of the goal charts and were completely devoid of anything resembling attacking intent on the day.
“Life, even as a football player, is not always the nicest,” Klopp admitted, “but it’s very important [to remember] that these players are all my boys. Sometimes I have to push them and sometimes I have to protect them and sometimes I have to make decisions they like and they don’t like. In this specific situation, I know how strong Loris Karius is, but obviously he couldn’t show it in that last one or two games.
“It isn’t a problem for me. It happens, that’s life. We are a long term project, even with our goalkeepers. And when you have wonderful goalkeepers like Simon Mignolet on the bench and you have this competition, you need to make a change. That’s how it is.
“Of course for Loris he was not happy and for Simon he was happy, but it’s all about Liverpool. The boys have good character, and of course I know their quality. Loris has a lot of skills that we really like, but that is no reason to push him through the situation.”
The win sees Liverpool leapfrog Arsenal, who lost yesterday to Everton in a stunner, into second place in the league table. The Reds head over to Goodison Park themselves next Monday looking to build on their confidence-boosting victory in what is sure to be a rousing Merseyside derby.