Klopp to wield the axe on Liver­pool stars

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

LIVER­POOL — Jur­gen Klopp has warned his Liver­pool stars any­one who be­lieves their job is done by hit­ting top spot in Novem­ber will be in­stantly axed.

The Reds lost the English Premier League lead at the week­end af­ter a fort­night at the sum­mit, and their man­ager is des­per­ate to en­sure no com­pla­cency has crept into his squad.

Asked if he had one les­son to bring from the time when he turned pre­vi­ous club Borus­sia Dort­mund into cham­pi­ons un­der un­can­nily sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances, the Ger­man coach replied with a stark mes­sage to any­one who takes their foot off the gas.

“Yes, there is some­thing I can tell the play­ers from the time we won with Dort­mund,” said boss Klopp with a smile. “Not think too much about it. That will help. If some­body is a char­ac­ter and wants to cel­e­brate (be­ing in) po­si­tion one in Novem­ber then he will not play in De­cem­ber any­more, be­cause I see it pretty quick.

“It is bet­ter to be in the num­ber one spot one time than never in your life, but it is not re­ally im­por­tant in this mo­ment. If you then cel­e­brate this and don’t be pro­fes­sional any more then you have a prob­lem.”

Klopp turned Dort­mund into cham­pi­ons af­ter just two years in charge of the Ger­man club de­spite the rel­a­tive in­ex­pe­ri­ence of the squad he in­her­ited, and he be­lieves part of the se­cret was keeping them grounded. He will need to do the same at An­field. Of the cur­rent squad, only James Mil­ner, Daniel Stur­ridge and re­serve keeper Alex Man­ninger have Premier League win­ner’s medals — and none of the oth­ers have a ma­jor ti­tle in an­other coun­try on their CVs ei­ther.

Liver­pool did, of course, chal­lenge for the ti­tle two years ago, but in­cred­i­bly, of the team that started against Southamp­ton in their last game, only Jor­dan Hen­der­son and Philippe Coutinho were in the squad which got pipped by Manch­ester City. That shows a lack of ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with the pres­sure a run at the top of the league brings, but Klopp is con­fi­dent none of his play­ers will fold un­der the ex­pec­ta­tion . . . and none will get car­ried away af­ter hit­ting top spot.

“These things usu­ally don’t hap­pen. The play­ers are here in this sit­u­a­tion be­cause their char­ac­ter is re­ally good — it is a long way to get here,” he ex­plained.

“It is not like they are sur­prised about suc­cess whether it is in­di­vid­ual or as a team. They had suc­cesses of be­ing the best player at Southamp­ton, Schalke, Sun­der­land or other teams. This is suc­cess in it­self.”

Liver­pool now trail Chelsea by a point in the ti­tle race, with Man City lurk­ing on their shoul­der. —

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