Klopp shrugs off losing build-up to Wembley
Having suffered a third pre-season defeat in four games, Jurgen Klopp insisted his Liverpool side would be a “different animal” when they take on Manchester City in the Community Shield.
The Champions League winners lost 3-0 to Napoli at Murrayfield, with Lorenzo Insigne, Arkadiusz Milik and Amin Younes scoring for the Italian side, who had lost 5-0 in a corresponding friendly a year ago.
Klopp, missing key men Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Alisson, said there was no cause for concern, but expects an improvement when they face Premier League champions City at Wembley on Sunday.
“I think the worst thing that could have happened is if we won all our games without the six players, everyone flying from last year and then getting the problems in the season,” the Liverpool manager said. “It was of course not good. I’m pretty sure we will play better football and it’s necessary as well.
“It’s been a strange pre-season. Everybody tells you constantly congratulations, and before the game Napoli were very nice and gave us a bottle of red wine.
“The good thing is if opponents want to analyse us now then they think ‘easy job’ – but we will be a different animal next week.”
Klopp still rates City “big favourites” for the title and added: “It became a two-horse [race] last year, but there are too many good clubs in this competition [for that to happen]. Even City see it like this. They are the big favourites and all the others try to beat them. We are one of these teams. At least we should give it a try, but we have to play better football – and we will.”
On a positive note, he gave winger Harvey Elliott, 16, a debut after his move from Fulham and said: “He could have gone pretty much everywhere, but he wanted to be part of Liverpool.
“Already he is the youngest ever Premier League player and has broken quite a few records because of his talent. He is obviously a fine, fine footballer.”
Carlo Ancelotti, the Napoli manager and three-time Champions League winner, said Liverpool would challenge for major trophies again this season. “They don’t have their three most important players so you can’t really judge their team at this moment,” he said.
New talent: Highly rated 16-year-old winger Harvey Elliott made his Liverpool debut