Klopp to wield the axe on Liverpool stars
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. —