After Liverpool comprehensively dismantled Nottingham Forest in a 3-0 win, manager Jürgen Klopp was predictable pleased with his team’s performance, especially under difficult circumstances. Luis Diaz and the club were informed last night that Diaz’s parents had been kidnapped, and the player was given compassionate leave to head home to Colombia. His mother has since been safely recovered, but his father is still missing. Klopp provided a brief update after the match.
We heard last night late about it. Then we spoke to Lucho; [he] wanted to go home, [we] sent people with him, have people there who take care, there’s part of families there as well so that’s why they want to be together. Absolutely understandable. Then we got the news with [his] mum, which is fantastic, and since then nothing really. They work on it, clearly. By some distance we are obviously not the first people who get informed but we try to have knowledge of everything as much as we can, but we don’t want to disturb in any way. [We’re] not the important people there. We just want to support. That’s it.
Despite Klopp and the players having worry for their squad mate’s family, the team put forth one of their best displays to date. Klopp felt his side really put in an extra effort to honor Diaz, which was highlighted when Diogo Jota held up a Luis Diaz jersey after Jota scored the opening goal of the match.
Yeah, so how can you make a football game really important on a day like this? It’s really difficult. I never struggled with that in my life. It was always my safe place, sometimes my hiding, as a player or as a coach, you are allowed during these 90 minutes just to focus on that and it was impossible. Absolutely impossible to do that. It was clear we have to give the game an extra sense and it was fighting for Lucho, then the boys put out the shirt and I was not 100 per cent prepared for that to be honest. It was really touching but wonderful as well. So, yeah, that’s it.
Turning focus to the match, Klopp was happy with how fluid the team looked in attack.
Yeah, I told the boys after the game the best thing you can say after a game like this [is] that we played really good and there’s so much space for improvement. Still, that’s obvious as well, the goals were fantastic, the patience we showed, the fluidity in a lot of moments on the ball, a lot of moments, the creative, the togetherness in how we connected with each other was really good, the goals we scored, I’m not sure, 70, or something, per cent possession, didn’t look at it, but the first goal was a counter-attack.
So, really good, the third goal was a counter-attack as well, by the way, the second goal was a wonderful team play. So, yeah, good, absolutely good game and the question will come anyway, so I can give the answer immediately, the preparation was the most difficult I ever had in my life. Didn’t expect that, was not prepared for it, I don’t want to make the game bigger than it was, but it was definitely. We tried to help Lucho with the fight we put in because obviously we want to help, we cannot really help, so the only thing we can do is fight for him and that’s what the boys did.
Klopp was glad to see his side take full control of a match after integrating a full new midfield and transitioning to several new players in the attack. On top of the change in personnel, Liverpool have seen quite a few matches this season marred by refereeing decisions that have made matches a little...wonky. Despite dominating the match against Nottingham Forest, Klopp still sees room for improvement.
We had a lot of strange games, let me say it like this, where we had 10 men, fight back, turn it around, these kind of things. Controlling a game was not that often necessary. Two-nil up [today] was the situation and being completely dominant in the game, then staying in the game, keep the ball moving, stay compact, don’t give them any kind of counter-attacks, corner kicks and that’s the moment. You might remember, three or four years ago - I don’t know exactly, maybe longer - when we all of sudden became slightly better, more dominant and then were leading at home and always came under pressure. Like 1-0 up meant nothing, everybody thought, ‘Oh my god, 1-0... 10 minutes to go...’ We were all halfway to seeing the equaliser coming and that’s a situation you have to grow into.
The boys showed wonderful signs in all aspects, all aspects really, but that’s something we now have to learn again. The key positions are obviously occupied by different players than at that time, pretty much everywhere - up front, midfield, last line. If you want it’s Virg, Trent, Mo and Ali - so four players and all the rest around are slightly different. That’s where there is space for improvement. Creating without losing the compactness is pretty much the idea behind. If you have to chase a game, it’s obviously a completely different task. If it’s an open game then it’s a different task, but if you are really in control then why should you not stay in control? The last five minutes before half-time, all of a sudden we were a bit too deep and they just could chip the balls there. One-on-one situation... we won the situation but then it was a corner or a throw-in, which is by the way pretty much the same for Nottingham Forest, and these are the moments where we have to improve, clearly. In creative things, you always can improve. That is always possible because the boys have a lot of potential so we have to use it fully.