In his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Arsenal, manager Jürgen Klopp did not hold back in letting his feelings be known.
While he normally measures his words, the Liverpool boss did not hold back on the challenges international breaks provide:
“I hate international breaks.
Coaches have their own targets and very often think they have to do physical work with the players. The break was not helpful, I would have loved to have played the week after [West Ham].”
Klopp is dealing with new injuries to Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson, who are both in doubt for tomorrow’s match, with the two midfielders picking up injuries while on duty for England and Scotland, respectively (Sadio Mané picked up a ribs injury with Senegal, but has trained with the team this week).
Following a brief discussion of Arsenal, Klopp found himself asked about his own contract situation as a result of recent Steven Gerrard’s comments:
Wow! I thought Stevie said some nice things, smart things, made sure it was about Villa and Gerrard.
I don’t have to think about these kinds of things in the moment, thank God, because we are in the middle of this season and that’s all we are focused on. But I really think I spoke often enough [about it]; no other manager gets asked that often about things that happen in two-and-a-half years or three years or four years. At least, I don’t know [that they do].
I didn’t think about it until you asked me now and I don’t want to think now about it. It’s all fine how it is. It’s over when it’s over but it’s far away from being over, so let’s focus on that.
On a perhaps more unexpected subject, Klopp was asked about Neco Williams’s future (after the youngster impressed with Wales):
He is pushing for a start, he’s a young player and we are a good football team, it’s not that easy to get into the team. We have Trent there, Milner has played there incredibly. Neco I saw for Wales and he did really well offensively. He can push.
We are really short of players – the last thing I’m thinking about in the moment is who could go on loan in the winter and I didn’t think about that for the Neco case. I can 100 per cent understand that the colleague from Wales thinks it makes sense that they play [for their club] but they are nearly qualified, or can qualify for the World Cup, with a lot of players who are not first choice in their teams. So I think it makes absolute sense that Neco is here developing every day and that’s what he’s doing. To fight through the situation, that’s what he is doing.
Just going on loan and you never know where he will end up – not Neco but in general, a player. First and foremost, you have to make sure you fight where you are because if you don’t sort your problems where you are, you will carry them with you to the next club as well. I said before, it’s not easy to be a first line-up player constantly at Liverpool, we have a really strong squad. But Neco is developing, Neco is improving and that’s why Neco could play how he played for Wales – not only against Belgium but as well against Belgium. That’s it.
Is it possible that we might address the midfield injury issues by pushing Trent Alexander-Arnold into the midfield and playing Neco Williams at right back? Maybe, though I wouldn’t quite put money on that option.