Jurgen Klopp says the perception of his preference for a hard-running, high-tempo style of play represents the “biggest misunderstanding in my life”.
Much was made of the fact that Liverpool became the first team to cover more ground than Tottenham in a Premier League match this season during Klopp’s first game in charge of the Merseyside club.
The 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday evoked memories of Klopp’s famous ‘gegenpressing’ style that he implemented to such great effect at Borussia Dortmund, with the likes of Adam Lallana, Emre Can and James Milner swarming around Spurs players in possession of the ball.
However, when asked ahead of the Europa League clash with Rubin Kazan on Thursday if his squad has the physical fitness to sustain such a demanding approach, the German coach sought to clarify his methods.
“[That is] the biggest misunderstanding in my life,” Klopp said. “People always ask me if it’s possible to play this style of football. They asked me it at Dortmund and Mainz every week.
“You don’t have to play like this for 90 minutes. It’s not always wild, it’s only the start. If you watched Bayern [Munich] v Arsenal [in the Champions League on Tuesday], Bayern had 70 per cent possession and lost 2-0. Arsenal were defensive and won the game.
“We have to have a plan. We have to be prepared, of course we need healthy players but we don’t kill the players. They are young, healthy professionals.
“[But] if you are not ready to run more than they do, then you’re crazy.”
Klopp was also quizzed on Liverpool’s injury crisis, which saw him have to make do without as many as seven first-team players at Tottenham.
“Studge [Daniel Sturridge] is getting better and better – the target for him is Sunday [when Liverpool play Southampton in the Premier League],” he said.
“The other players are no option for Sunday. [Danny] Ings and [Joe] Gomez had their operation. It was a positive operation and they are on their way back. No complications.
“We have three players back in training, [Roberto] Firmino, [Christian] Benteke and [Dejan] Lovren. More options but not really starting options. We will see what we need for this game. It’s very good for us that these players are back.”
Klopp was also critical of the Football Association after teenager Jordan Rossiter returned from England Under-19s duty with a hamstring problem.
“Rossiter is a special story, I’ve never heard a player at 19 years having to play three games in five days. Now we have to wait for him. I will find a way to talk to somebody about this. It’s not okay.”