Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised his side’s performance over Manchester City on Saturday, but discussed a series of points, as per NBC’s post-match coverage.
The Reds beat the Citizens 4-1 at the Etihad in a shock result, with the German and his troops hailed after the comprehensive win.
Speaking pitch-side to NBC after the game, Klopp was questioned on a series of topics from the match.
Klopp said: “Proud? I don’t know if that is the right word, but of course I am really, really satisfied with the performance. It was far away from perfect, but in many moments really, really good.
“What we had to do was disturb their build-up play. Because, if you let them play how they want then you have no chance. So, that’s what we tried to do and these were the first steps in this game.
“But, it really wasn’t easy because we really didn’t defend perfectly. We had some problems on the wing, we had too much in the centre and didn’t move enough on the ball side.
“But, when we got the ball our counter-attack was not too bad. It was really good. And we made these three goals – these wonderful goals.
“But, you saw that when you let them play a little bit, then they are back in the game. The goal of Aguero was not even a chance. It was a free ball and in the end Simon Mignolet had no chance. That’s what happens you let them play.”
Klopp was then questioned on how easy it has been for Liverpool’s players to take to his pressing game, saying: “It’s a long way to go. It’s not easy because we don’t really have any time to train. When we have time, all the players are around the world with their national teams.
“We had more players this time (during the international break). They also came back a little earlier, because of the things that happened in Europe. It was better for the training because we had the lads together.
“But, at the end we are still far away from finishing our way or our explanation. But, the character of the team is really good. They want to work. I knew about the character. When you watch Liverpool you know they are ready for work.
“But, of course we have to work on the mentality. Today I said to my players at half-time it looks a little like you’re surprised that you are winning 3-0 – ‘oh, what’s happening here’. So, we have to learn to win, to be in the lead. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a big step with the points and style of play. We can do better though, that is important.”
Klopp was then asked on whether he encourages his troops to always press, or whether they can sit back at times and soak up the pressure.
The German said: “If it’s a decision to defend deeper then it’s not a problem. Of course, you have to defend deeper – in the Champions League or whatever. You cannot play against Real Madrid and always want to take the ball in their box.
“But, if it is a coincidence or you decide too late. Listen, the most important thing is you always defend together. That’s the most important thing. If you play pressing then please press. And if you want to disrupt their build-up play then you have to say stand high up the pitch.
“If you want to defend deeper it’s no problem. Midfield pressing is a very good thing. I like it. And defence pressing is very important. We have to learn. There was that moment in the game – the last 12 minutes – that we always decided a second too late. At the end we gave Simon Mignolet the ball like he should have the solution for us. Of course, that was not ok as he can only shoot the long ball.
“He wants to play football of course because he is able to play football, but then he shoots the ball and everyone thinks he is responsible. No. The rest of the team are responsible, because we think too late and it is a little bit of a problem.”
The Liverpool manager was then asked what he made of the brilliant relationship Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino displayed during the win over City.
Klopp said: “They are both brilliant footballers. I am sure they are friends, but they also like Christian Benteke very much and Sturridge! There is n problem between the lads.
“We were able to train together (Coutinho and Firmino). Benteke was not with us. He came back on Wednesday and we had already 10 days training. We knew that we were playing Manchester City, so we did a little bit in training (working Coutinho and Firmino together).
“We didn’t play the two together because of the Chelsea game. Chelsea and Manchester City – you cannot compare. It was because we could train together. But, when Christian [Benteke] came on he was brilliant – really brilliant. He defended well, he was fast on his legs and so important for us.
“We had Sturridge on the bench. We didn’t have to bring him on. He only had four days training. It was more ‘come on, feel that you are with us in this moment and then we can make the next step in training ahead of Bordeaux’.
“So that’s what we wanted to do with him (Sturridge). To bring him into a shape that he is robust enough for a long season.”
Klopp was then questioned on an argument he had with Firmino during the same, to which he commented: “Before the game I told him that he’s a striker who can sometimes be a midfielder, but not a midfielder who is sometimes a striker and we need him as a target. He always came very deep so I asked him what he was doing because we cannot play the ball in his direction when we have no target to play.
“I said, ‘please stay there’. I’ve never told a player to stay in front, but today.
“Emre is a young lad, he’s full of emotion and everything but when you are tired in a game, then if you cannot make the way back, please don’t make the way forward,” he told NBC.
“He opened space sometimes but it’s no problem, that’s my work; I try to help, it’s not so easy from outside but when you win 4-1, everything is OK.”
Video originally found on nbcsports.com.