Following Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday, Jürgen Klopp was questioned about what the Reds will do in the summer regarding transfers and the German was typically pragmatic in his response.
Despite serious questions over the quality in Liverpool’s team, the Merseysider’s romped to victory at Anfield against Arsenal at the weekend. It has to be said that the Gunners were weakened without Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez.
That being said, Liverpool had to make do without captain Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and Dejan Lovren.
One thing which has been made clear this season is that there is not enough quality in this Liverpool side. There are certainly players of a high calibre, the Reds’ front three are incredible at times, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum are classy midfielders and Jöel Matip has proven to be an astute signing.
Yet, when Klopp is unable to field his first-choice starting eleven, things rarely go to plan. It would seem as though results and performances are intrinsically linked with the ability to field the same team regularly.
When asked by reporters if beating Arsenal makes it more difficult for Klopp to be ‘ruthless’ when it comes to the summer, the German manager replied, “I understand the question, and it’s a good question, because after the last game I was low, angry whatever, and I am not angry in this moment.
“It is not that we are not serious in the things we are doing. The important thing in a development is that you take the information you get, work with it. Most of the info, you don’t like. When everything is perfect already, then you think, ‘yeah, well, ok, c’mon, done, now we can deliver’.
“And we can already very often deliver…. but I said in life, we are all a little bit like this, that we let the bad things influence us more than the good things, otherwise we would celebrate our birthday maybe longer than one day.
“We are like this, but especially in this moment, the club is completely together. Usually it is not that hard, but only because it is Liverpool and everybody expects we already should be somewhere else – I understand this 100%, it is our aim, it is where we want to be.
“We are completely fine, the owners are fine, they are completely with us, the players we have a wonderful relationship…but that doesn’t mean we say every day what they want to hear. It means we work together on the things we are not as good as – I’m not sure if we could already be or not.”
Klopp continued to say, “Look at one of the best games we played, say Man City, they are really strong, we won 1-0 – if this victory had given us as much confidence as the draw at Sunderland had given us a knock, then everything would be fine, but it was not like this. Man City was: ‘we can do it sometimes’, Sunderland was, ‘yeah. That is the usual face’.
“So we have to keep on going in these parts and then finally, probably everything will be good. I don’t like inconsistency, I made it pretty clear, but at the end, until now, it was part of the deal obviously.”
These inconsistencies have led to the questioning of Klopp’s team. A lot of criticism has been directed at the mentality of his players with a lack of character highlighted as something that has led to defeats to lower placed teams. To win against a side like Spurs and then slip to a miserable defeat against Leicester a couple weeks later suggests a mental issue more than a technical one.
Klopp added, “I don’t want to make it too philosophical, it is obviously the case we are inconsistent. I know we don’t have to doubt their attitude in the way we usually think about it – ‘do they really want it? Are they really motivated?’ We cannot play as we did (against Arsenal) if we have any issues like this.
“But we struggled in other games. So ok, you say it is about quality, and yeah probably sometimes it is quality. But we have potential and you make quality of it, with work and all that stuff.
“If we judge the players after the best game of the season, then we sign a contract for another six seasons, if we do it after Leicester then you change the whole squad. But the truth is always in between.
“That is what we are working on, really working on. There will be moments when we play like this and win again – and it is what we did this season already in fact – and it will be against a team not in the top six. But we have to work on it, first of all we have to feel like it is possible.
“The whole week is different. When the week starts after Leicester everybody was angry, then we produce this performance against Arsenal. But then the question is immediately about Burnley and it starts already ‘oh f** k, how can we do this”. The legs feel already very heavy for the next game.
“My job is to produce the right mood, and I feel especially responsible after not so good performances – we work on it.”
Klopp is evidently aware of the lack of overall quality in his side. When Liverpool lost 3-1 to Leicester, there were two midfielders in the back four which was expertly exploited by the Foxes.
Liverpool will need to sign new players this summer and there have been calls for the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Naby Keita but a new left back is imperative as well. Liverpool’s win over Arsenal has boosted their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League which will, in turn, allow for Klopp and co. to target a higher bracket of footballer.