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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp issued a response to Gary Neville’s suggestion he should ignore the Champions League in favour of a Premier League push on Friday, questioning the former Manchester United man’s logic.
Per the Liverpool Echo’s Sam Carroll, the German added a little dig at the pundit:
“How would that work? We don’t play CL or what? Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that works.
“How do you prepare for a game when you don’t focus on it? I don’t understand, do we play our kids or what?
“To focus on one competition can only be if you are out, or nearly out, or if it’s late in the season.
“Last year I don’t think even think Gary would have said ‘let City win in the CL.’ Sitting in an office talking about football is different to doing the job.”
Per Paul Gorst of the Liverpool Echo, Neville suggested such an approach could keep the team healthy toward the end of the season in an interview with The Times.
Klopp also explained Fabinho still has a major role to play for the club, but that it takes time to settle, per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo:
James Pearce @JamesPearceEcho
Klopp on Fabinho: “We had similar questions about Robbo and Oxlade. Fabinho is full of energy and desire. It’s not nice to tell him he’s not involved but he’s come from another league with a different system, it takes time. The plan was and still is that he will make us better.”
Klopp spoke to the press ahead of Saturday’s match against Tottenham Hotspur, one of the most anticipated fixtures of the Premier League campaign so far. Both sides have started the season in excellent form, with just one defeat between the two sides.
Last year, Spurs emphatically beat the Reds 4-1 at Wembley Stadium, and according to Klopp, it proved to be a major turning point in the team’s season:
James Pearce @JamesPearceEcho
Klopp on last trip to Wembley: “It was a very difficult game for us because we made big mistakes around their goals. It was after we won 7-0 v Maribor. It was kind of a wake-up call for the players.”
One of the worst performers in that match was Dejan Lovren, who made several errors that directly led to goals and was substituted before the first half was even over.
Klopp said he never stopped believing in the Croat and also provided a fitness update:
“I’m 100% sure—I was never in doubt about Dejan.
“People said that it was never very good consistency wise and in this perspective the [Tottenham] game was a very difficult game for him.
“I could have changed five or six players but I did that and he wasn’t happy about it. But we all have our 20 minutes.
“There has not been too much talking about the situation, and it was only about what I think about him. When he starts thinking the same about himself it could help him. My opinion is pretty high, but his is pretty average.
“Unfortunately he is not fit at the moment but I am sure he will be back in a pretty intense period with seven games in the next three weeks.”
The Reds have a perfect record after four matches, but the schedule is about to become more difficult in the coming weeks. Paris Saint-Germain will visit Anfield for a Champions League match just days after the Tottenham clash, with fixtures against the likes of Southampton, Chelsea (in both the league Carabao Cup), Napoli and Manchester City also on the horizon.
Fortunately for Klopp, he knows he has plenty of options to rotate, per the Mirror‘s David Maddock:
David Maddock @MaddockMirror
Klopp: “It’s like we have 500 games in the next few weeks, and when you have a lot of players you can make decisions, good decisions – it’s a rather luxury problem to have.” #LFC
With Lovren close to returning and Fabinho working his way into the team, there should be plenty of room to rest players in defence and midfield. In attack, Daniel Sturridge showed enough flashes in pre-season to warrant more minutes if needed.
The Reds and Spurs will kick off Week 5 of the Premier League campaign on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. BST.