Jürgen Klopp knows there’s a big challenge written into facing the side you beat 7-0 last time out, and was clear pre-match that he expects a big challenge this Sunday from a wounded Manchester United:
“The 7-0 we knew on the day was a freakish result that happens once in life pretty much,” he said during his pre-match press conference.
“And if it helps anybody for the next game, it’s the team who lost 7-0 and not the team who won 7-0, that’s another thing. If you take it all out of consideration then we just play a football game against the rival, the historical rival, of Liverpool FC, at home at Anfield.
“That itself must make it a special game and that’s what I want to see from us: a special game. Really understand the situation and give your all — that’s all I need.”
Klopp is ready for a fight, and knows his side — who have had to come back to win many times already this season — have a fight in them, and the quality to prevail:
“I knew at the beginning [of the season] we have a really good football team. We brought a really good few boys, and actually the boys who were here we all knew how good they can be. So that was obvious from pretty early.
“But what is that? Tell me one Premier League squad who is not good, that is just existing. Especially if you fight for the top four, they are all outstanding so that’s what you have to be.
“These experiences [comeback victories], we said it when it happened early, early in the season; we had a good pre-season, a long pre-season and we didn’t train once 10v11 and had to play it pretty much for the first five games all the time! We did that really well and yeah, that brings a group together obviously.
“That helps the process definitely if you get through it. If you don’t get through it, it’s the opposite actually. But we got through this and that was extremely helpful.
“It’s now a while ago, we know each other much better. It’s still new but we know each other much better and the steps we make I like. Will they always be big enough? I don’t know yet, we have to see that.
“But so far I can see development, and that’s actually what I need to understand where it could end up. But that’s not possible in the moment because of the things I said before.”
The Liverpool head coach sees a lot of promise in his side, but also room for improvement. Klopp knows, too, that the holiday period — coupled with injuries — will provide a tough test:
“What is the real capability? Is it what you can do in the moment? Or is it what you can do in three or four years of working together? For what we can do in the moment, we saw it in moments.
“And we saw the problems as well. That’s clear when you have a new group together, and it is a new group: new players and different roles for other players, that’s how it is. It’s always clear that it needs time to find some stability, that’s what we lacked in moments. That’s the truth.
“But in the end so far it worked out somehow and we have to make sure that we keep improving, even in the most difficult moments. We were not as a group in this tough period [yet]. We never had a December together, let me say it like that, and a December in English football is the toughest month ever. And that’s where we now have to show how far we are with that.
“I know when in early December you are top of the table people start thinking about different things; we obviously don’t. I’m at least too long in the business that it would mean anything to me.
“It’s better than being 18th or 20th but it’s still just a position for the moment and we have to keep working extremely hard and that is so difficult when you don’t have real time for recovery, but you have to do it anyway.”
The Reds host Manchester United this Sunday, and would do well to expect a real fight: the Red Devils just bombed out of Europe and will come to Anfield needing to recover their pride.