This past week could be rightly described as disappointing for Liverpool and their supporters. Two draws in five days is very much not what the Reds had worked for after the momentum they built up before the international break, but that was the reality that came to pass. After losing a three goal lead against Sevilla earlier the week, Liverpool drew to Chelsea on Saturday. A great shift from the winning ways of the past few weeks to be sure, but not the major psychological shift it’s made out to be. In fact, Jürgen Klopp insists it’s not a mental shift at all.
The manager spoke to the Echo following the draw and when asked about the two matches, said: “Two very different games. Completely different games – having a 1-0 lead against Chelsea is no lead, it is only a little information. It becomes a real result only in the moment when the final whistle goes.
“That’s pretty much like when you are against us 1-0 up. So that is completely different (to Sevilla). If somebody wants to think in that way I can not avoid that probably.
“But I have not for a second the impression that it is a psychological thing.”
To be fair, he’s right. The two games couldn’t have been more different, with Liverpool and Chelsea eeking a goal a piece, whereas Liverpool completely fell apart in the second half and disappointingly let three goals in. Klopp also went on to reject any suggestion that Liverpool need to play more “cynically” or morally grey, to be able to close games down.
“We try to close games down, but we don’t do it in a cynical way,” said Klopp.
“We don’t do it ‘oh sit down again, this player kind of walking’, you have seven minutes overtime then.
“The referee thought we do it. Watch a few of our games and you see that we don’t - we have one red card all season, and that was unlucky, so watch it and judge it, and use your own mind, don’t say they all do it.
“We didn’t think about it (time-wasting) at all. We didn’t do it at the moment with the Lallana substitution, we only thought ‘c’mon, change, tell them’ and when Adam went onto the pitch he had to tell them a lot, that’s the thing, because we changed the system.”
Klopp went on to add that he’d rather give up the game entirely than to resort to those kind of tactics - despite what some supporters may say. Unsurprising, honestly, considering the kind of optimism and character Klopp himself exudes and often nurtures in players.
“The day when somebody thinks like this (in my teams), with not being a proper sportsman and being fair, then I stop. If it’s not okay any more that we try our best, then it is something wrong,” Klopp continued.
“I’ll give you an example. The problem with the elbow in the game these days is the rule. Since the rule is existing we have incident after incident after incident. When I played I got five broken noses through my football career and there was not one time on purpose.
“It just happened, I never thought (shouts) ‘what are you doing?’ – I just took it. Now they are all on the ground. I watched a game yesterday and they were on the ground, and you didn’t know any more what they were doing.
“That’s not my kind of game. Yes, you have to be smart, yes you have to be clever in different situations. Didn’t see a lot of them tonight where we have to stay down. If you don’t hear a whistle you have to stay up.
“If you stay on the ground, and there’s no whistle then what happens then? They go on playing. With an English ref they do what they want. The British refs you never know, stay on your feet when you hear the whistle.”
Playing cynically is overrated anyway.