Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool’s players have shown renewed focus for Sunday’s top-of-the-table showdown with Manchester United after a team meeting in the wake of last week’s defeat at Southampton.
The champions have picked up only 13 points from eight league matches starting with the draw at Brighton in November – a run that has allowed Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side to seize the initiative in the title race. As Klopp prepared for his 200th Premier League game, he revealed his side’s determination to make up for recent struggles.
“We lost against Southampton a week or so ago which was absolutely not what we wanted, but the next day we had a meeting and the boys had their say as well,” Liverpool’s manager said. “So we are in a place where we want to be. We know what we have to do. We know what went wrong. We know what we want to change. And now we have to put in on the pitch. That’s the situation. I’m really looking forward to this game.”
Klopp has guided Liverpool to 127 wins – a ratio bettered only by José Mourinho in the Premier League era. Yet he admitted his players must “go back to basics” to regain form against a United team unbeaten in 11 league matches.
“Things haven’t gone outstandingly well since mid-November but we still have 33 points,” said Klopp. “Yes, we are not exactly where we want to be but we have learned a lot this season. We are dealing with circumstances, dealing with situations and all of these kind of things and there was not one second because of the attitude of the boys it didn’t work out. So that’s good but it causes a problem as well because they have always won but it doesn’t work out all the time.”
He added: “We didn’t score a lot of goals in the draws and we didn’t score against Southampton but still we have scored the most goals in the league, so that’s absolutely crazy. So it’s not that it disappeared. It’s just exactly how it should be – why would one team click all the time and the other teams not? We have to go back to the basics and get strong. As strong we can be again.”
At this stage last season United were 24 points behind Liverpool. They have emerged as potential challengers despite losing two of their first three matches, and Klopp dismissed the suggestion that Liverpool’s historic rivals are underdogs.
“I’ve been in England for five years and United was never an underdog – they cannot be; it’s just like this,” he said. “They have always had good players and coaches – all of that stuff was always there. And now they are top of the league. That’s how it is. But who is the favourite and who is the challenger is not important. It’s Liverpool against United and that itself is a massive game. Wherever I would be in the world if it was on television, I would watch it. This is the game.”