Liverpool made it four from four Saturday lunchtime and Jürgen Klopp, James Milner and Alisson were on hand post-match to give the media their thoughts.
Goals from Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino were enough to earn Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool a 2-1 victory over Leicester City despite a below par performance from the Reds.
There were a number of issues with Klopp’s men’s performance – not least the lack of cohesion in attack and Alisson Becker’s error for Leicester’s goal – but the German was quick to remind that “result-wise it could not have been better!”
“Performance-wise, we know we can improve and we really know that we could have already done better,” Klopp admitted, before giving an interesting reason for Liverpool’s lack of attacking verve.
“It was a bit difficult; when the pitch got drier and drier, it changed our game. We should not suffer from that too much but we did, it changed our game. We should have been much more direct, playing in behind, and use these situations much more than the other way around.”
“A lot of things were difficult for us. First and foremost, the quality of the opponent, of course, after the first 25 to 30 minutes I would say. And then circumstances – the pitch was dry and it was the first summer day again after a long period. That’s it.”
“It was exciting until the end but I’m fine with that. We knew before the game we had to make a big fight of it. In the beginning we played fantastic football, then we fought for the three points, that’s how it should be. And that’s why we won the game.”
Liverpool’s vice-captain James Milner echoed his manager’s sentiments on the performance.
“It wasn’t a good performance from us in most aspects, really – pressing, defending, keeping the ball. It was tough work,” Milner admitted to Sky Sports.
“But that’s not taking anything away from them (Leicester), they’re a good team and they showed that. We knew it’d be tough but sometimes you have to win ugly and we did that today.”
“(There’s) plenty to improve on again and we need to improve after the international break. Hopefully everyone comes back fully fit, but again if you’re winning games and you’re not happy with the performances, that’s where you need to be.”
“I think you can see the way we know we can play, and the way we’ve played the last couple of games is just finding a way to get that result when things aren’t going for you. That’s what you have to do sometimes in the Premier League.”
On Alisson Becker’s error for the Leicester goal – the first time Liverpool have conceded all season – Klopp was realistic while still refusing to be drawn into criticising the Brazilian.
“It was last week when he did what he did and the way everybody spoke about it, it was clear that it would happen one day that we conceded a goal because of that but we still want to use it,” Klopp explained, confirming that the Reds will not shy away from playing the ball back to their keeper when the situation calls for it.
“I have to watch it back but I thought Joe Gomez could have cleared the situation, then Virgil for sure could have cleared it. In the end, if Alisson with the first touch puts the ball away, everything is fine. For some reason, he didn’t do that, he dribbled and they scored the goal. That’s it.”
The manager was also quick to remind the media that just because a goalkeeper is good with his feet, doesn’t mean that he should be used in every situation.
“I said to him, it’s the best game to do it because we still won the game and we ticked that box. As a team, we are still in the period where we have to adapt to each other and not use him in the wrong moments. He’s not the solution for us, he’s an option. We did it a few times too much and it’s not cool.”
Speaking on the error himself, Alisson told ESPN Brazil that while he won’t change his playing style following one error, he may need to be quicker in his decision making.
“I am angry that I made a mistake that put the team in a difficult situation,” the Brazil international admitted.
“When one person makes a mistake, it affects everyone and everyone fought back together. We have to improve still but the result is what matters at the moment.”
“It was bad judgement, I made a mistake reading the play. I didn’t get a very good pass but we talked about that in the dressing room and I spoke to Virgil. It wasn’t a good pass but I could have just kicked it long.”
“I wanted to keep playing and keep the possession… now everyone is going to analyse that. I’m not going to be stupid and make the same mistake. We have to learn from our mistakes.”
While pundits will undoubtedly jump on Alisson’s back – a number of them already opted to do so last weekend after his successful flick over Anthony Knockhaert – it’s worth remembering that with the score at 1-0, the Brazilian made a fantastic stop down low to his right and mistake aside, he did everything else superbly across the 90 minutes.
It’s because of this that Klopp was quick to assert that he will not ask the keeper to change the way he plays, rather that he would focus on teaching the Brazilian’s team mates to only ask him to play in the right moments.
“It’s only positive that he is that good a footballer but we all have to learn to use it in the right way still. That means, pass the ball in the right moment, then immediately make another offer for him, open some passing options.”
“That’s the job for the team, play the pass in the right moment, not on a dry pitch, not hard enough. Don’t do it in these moments. That was a mistake – no goalkeeper in the world should dribble in that situation. But he did it. But it’s all OK.”
“For me, much more interesting is how the reaction was and it was good. We still used him in better situations. The crowd wanted to make him a bit nervous but he didn’t look nervous. That helps a lot.”
“Football is a game where a lot of mistakes happen over 90 minutes.. but the reaction was brilliant and I’m completely fine. How I said, it was always clear it will happen. It needed to happen so that it will not happen again. I think today was the day.”