Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt his players struggled to focus on Sunday’s 2-1 win at AFC Bournemouth with the derby against Everton around the corner – something with which he has no problem.
Klopp shuffled his starting line-up following the remarkable Europa League comeback triumph against Borussia Dortmund and was rewarded as goals from Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge made it three wins from three to cap a memorable week.
But Everton’s forthcoming trip to Anfield on Wednesday had already started to occupy the players’ minds and Klopp is relishing his first taste of the all-Merseyside affair.
“When we were in the dressing room and we spoke a little about Sunday’s game at Bournemouth I don’t think anyone was really listening,” Klopp told the Mirror.
“They are thinking about Everton. I’m okay with that. That’s really cool. It’s very exciting. It’s important too.
“Derbies are always difficult to play because you have to handle the pressure. There’s no advantage or disadvantage for either side.
“For me, I like these special games. I’ve been a manager since 2001. That’s 15 years and each game is important. But with special games like this it’s different.”
Klopp fondly recalls his time taking charge of Dortmund for their fierce Ruhr derby battles against Schalke and hopes to call upon this experience when taking the reins in another local argument – albeit one he believes has more friendly undertones.
“In my first season [at Dortmund] in 2008, on our fourth matchday we played against Schalke. With no success at the club, the only game in the year everyone was really interested in was the derby,” Klopp explained.
“In Dortmund they say the derby is more important than the championship. You can feel it around the game.
“Since I’ve been here I get the feeling that the rivalry was more aggressive between Dortmund and Schalke.
“As Dortmund manager, I lived in a street and my two neighbours were Schalke fans. They showed it every day, flying flags.
“I’ve met some Evertonians in the street and they’ve been friendly. I’ve had taxi drivers who have been Everton fans. They’ve been really nice.”