Klopp on Fulham, trophies, Mane, Matip and more

Liverpool’s boss spoke at Melwood ahead of Sunday’s trip to Fulham and, as well as providing an update on the fitness of a trio of his players, spoke about subjects including re-focusing after Wednesday’s Champions League win over Bayern Munich, the possibility of lifting two trophies this season and the form of Sadio Mane and Joel Matip.

Read on for a transcript of Klopp’s media briefing…

On the effect the victory over Bayern has had on his squad…

A much better impact than if you lose, of course, but you can use both. You lose a game like this you say you are focused completely now on the league and now we have to strike back, all that stuff. So you can use always a defeat but it’s better that you win and that’s what we did, in an impressive way. It helps of course, it just shows in that competition that we have made the next step. Last year I think when we came through it was always about a sensational, free-flowing kind of football in a specific way: scoring from all areas, stuff like that. This was, from my point of view, the most mature performance we had so far in all European competitions since I am in and I like that a lot. It was really good. I said after the game, in a game like this it’s pretty rare that one team is shining completely and the other team has a bad hair day or whatever. It doesn’t happen a lot, so you have to work for each yard, for each inch, and that’s what the boys did. In the decisive moments you have to be there defensively and offensively. It was really good, I was really happy and it was not to expect in that way. People spoke about ‘Bayern was not really like Bayern usually is’ – I would say all the credit to my boys because we didn’t let them. That’s all we have to do in game like this.

On the difficulty of facing Fulham following such a high in midweek…

I know my boys now three-and-a-half years and I would say it is tricky in itself because it’s Fulham. I know what you probably expect but we know about that and it’s nothing to do with the Champions League game on Wednesday. It is just a very important game for us. We don’t think about the situation in the table or whatever, we are only focused on our situation. But we know how difficult it is – we only have to take our game against Fulham at home: we need a genius moment from Ali, Trent and Mo to win that game. It is difficult, but we have to see it as an opportunity because it is the next game we play and a very important one. Fulham has a difficult season obviously, but since Scott [Parker] is in you can see the change, it is really kind of a breath of fresh air. They lost the two games against Chelsea, which is a difficult one for all teams in the league obviously, and Leicester with a new manager there. But they were pretty impressive. That’s all in our books, that’s all we know of that and now we have to make sure that we are really spot on from the first second and hopefully we can win that game.

On the belief within the squad that they can win one or two trophies this season…

We are quite a while in that situation so it’s not that we change our mood constantly or whatever. We are focused on the season and the season means for us that we have to play two competitions. On Wednesday it was Champions League, from now on for three or four weeks it is Premier League and no problem with that. For a lot of boys it’s then playing with their national teams but that’s all so it didn’t change. I was happy and I saw and heard in the dressing room after the game the players were happy as well, it was a big one for all of us. But we were always focused and we will stay focused, that’s all what I can say. It’s not that we are surprised about ourselves that we can beat Bayern, about how we did it I’m not surprised but I’m really happy we could prove something like that. So now let’s be completely, completely concentrated on Fulham and don’t think about what happens afterwards or whatever. Just play that game, stay in the same mood like we always were: confident, aggressive, direct, all that you need in a football game. Stay in that mood and everything will be fine.

On the importance of winning a trophy for his personal legacy at Liverpool…

I cannot imagine how less I am interested in that. I never thought about myself in that job. I needed pretty much two years when we became champions with Dortmund and people said “champions’ coach” or whatever – I don’t need that. My job is to do everything I can to help the team so we can be as successful as possible. I’m not searching to be remembered in 50 years or whatever. For me there is no pressure, only opportunity. I love what I do, I think I have a fantastic team out there and that’s all that I need to be a happy person. I respect a lot the desire of all the people and all the players and all that stuff, and I can really can be part of that dream. But it’s not for me in the end, it’s just for the people.

Inside Munich: An incredible night at the Allianz

On whether defeats in three previous finals is providing an added motivation for his players this season…

That’s normal that you want to prove things, but it’s not that we wake up in the morning and think we lost in the League Cup final against Manchester City, the Europa League final against Seville and against Real Madrid in Kiev. Yesterday I watched Chelsea in Kiev, it was the stadium where we played obviously, and I didn’t remember one part of the stadium. It’s just not important anymore. What we tried to do after that was to use it in a positive way, that’s 100 per cent. You want to prove things, make things better and all that stuff. But the boys don’t wake up in the morning and think about it, but in the competition it was always clear that the things we did last year helped us of course this year because it is our experience. It’s not that we are the most experienced team but we had a very fresh experience from last year. It helped us a lot in the game against Munich because we lost all three away games in the Champions League this year, we lost the final, and we lost against Roma as well. So the last five Champions League away games we lost and the reason for that was simple: because we didn’t defend how we want to defend, and in Munich we defended like we want to defend, 100 per cent. From this basis you can win away games, you can win each football game. So it helped a lot what we experienced last year. We will see what happens… if there will be a final at the end then good and then we will have to think about the final, but not now.

On whether going above Manchester City by winning this weekend would be a mental boost…

Being ahead of City when City have a game in hand is not that important, but we have a game at the weekend and we want to win that game obviously. That we are then ahead doesn’t mean a lot, the game in hand of City is against United, I think, so it’s for sure it’s not an easy one but it’s not decided at the weekend because of that. All the stories will be written and we will accept these stories because that would mean we would have won the game, which is how I said, difficult enough. It’s the only thing we think about. Psychologically we didn’t struggle because we are not ahead of them anymore, that doesn’t change, but we try to be as long as possible in the tunnel to really focus on the football game. If there is something to celebrate at the end of the season we will be the first being involved in the celebration, but until then, let’s play football.

Watch: 10 goals in 10 games for Sadio

On Mane’s rich vein of goalscoring form and whether he has taken some responsibility off Mohamed Salah’s shoulders…

It is good that we split the goals a little bit, absolutely it’s good. We have 73 points and each goal we scored brought us there, and from time to time it’s clicking for the one [player] more. To explain the situation of Mo a little bit because I think he is in outstanding shape, but the situation he had in the last second [against Bayern] when Sule came – that’s a goal if Sule would switch off. Mo did everything right and nobody can know if Sule is there to put his foot in. That’s the situation he had in the moment a little bit, and for Sadio it is different, thank God. All the goals we scored are really important to us, who scores is not too important but of course it helps if the boys are confident and know what they do. The first goal that Sadio scored in Munich, probably if you have not scored for five or six games then you will not score that goal but it was completely natural the whole thing. At the end everybody criticised Neuer, but it was just world-class from Sadio and we have to accept that as well. So he’s in a good moment, hopefully it stays like this, that’s the most important thing to us. The goals we scored so far are important to us but not so important as the goals we will score until the end of the season.

On Matip’s recent form…

From my side, you cannot get more [praise] because he is an outstanding player. It’s unbelievable how he is doing. We were really unlucky with the situation in the centre-half position because so many injuries is really rare, hopefully that’s now finished. Joe Gomez played the first part of the season and was incredible, Dejan played unbelievably good football for us and Joel is doing as well. One of the best games I saw from him was the game against Napoli when he got the injury in the last second of the game, it was incredible. We had so far a bit of consistency in the position with that pairing. It was important that, thank God, Virg could play most of the time and so he always had to adapt to the other one but it was really good and they do a brilliant job, both of them.

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