Mohamed Salah. Rubbish, eh?
At least, his manager doesn’t seem to think scoring four goals is all that special an achievement, as Klopp himself claims to have done it in his not quite illustrious playing career.
“Did I really score four goals in a game? Yes!
“It was against Rot-Weiss Erfurt”, the Liverpool manager reminisced to the Liverpool Echo. “They are second division team, it was a league game. Do I still have the matchball? No, they had only one ball. If I took the ball then they would be looking for one. There were a few nice goals, one very easy and there was one off the crossbar so it would have been five”.
Klopp is not one for faint praise when it comes to his own moments of glory, it seems.
“Should I tell Mo that story? I should!”
Joking aside, this does show us the qualities of the German’s warm man management approach. While many coaches take a very serious position with their players, and only engage in a purely professional relationship with them, Klopp wants to laugh along with his star wide forward and the Egyptian is clearly repaying him on the pitch.
To move on to slightly more serious matters, Klopp was also happy to talk about another clean sheet, and the general trend of better defensive performances over the second half of the season.
“Has it been down to [the arrival of] Virgil Van Dijk?” Certainly that’s the easy line that many have drawn, though the manager sees things slightly less straightforwardly. “I don’t want to minimise Virgil’s influence but I don’t think it’s like that.”
“If you want to defend right then everybody needs to know what you do in which situation. Virgil’s influence is 100% there, for sure but really I was never that unhappy with the others that I would say, ‘Now finally we can defend because Virgil is here’.
“It was just a good performance [against Watford]. Hendo around, Milly around, Gini was killed after 60 minutes but first half was impressive.”
It’s pleasing to see Klopp acknowledging the widespread good defensive performances in the side. Though Virgil van Dijk has slotted in comfortably since his signing, Liverpool were already showing signs of improvement prior to this, conceding twelve goals in the sixteen games directly before the Dutchman’s arrival. Defending is about the collective, and Van Dijk has been part of a surprisingly decent unit since his arrival.
After that, you just need quality goalscorers like Salah and Klopp.