Jurgen Klopp believes a high-tempo approach is not detrimental to the welfare of his players and claims Liverpool do not get the credit they deserve for dominating possession in matches.
The German manager became closely associated with aggressively closing down the opposition, particularly in periods of transition between defence and attack, as his Borussia Dortmund team won the Bundesliga twice and reached the final of the Champions League.
The 49-year-old has imported those methods to England, where they have been criticised by some as potentially putting players at greater risk of injury.
Klopp, though, has refuted those suggestions, claiming the satisfaction of snatching back possession and hurting the opposition is ample reward for his hard-working side.
“It’s not more intense than others,” he told Spox.com when asked about his playing style.
“And it does not hurt. It hurts when Barcelona lets you chase the ball and you’re trying to get that ball. But when you win the ball and, ideally, fire a shot, then that’s relaxation, mentally and physically.
“Just ask a boxer: He fires 100 punches, and those 95 missing the target are really exhausting. Those five hitting the opponent feel world class. That’s the goal… players should feel that the effort is worth everything.”
Klopp claimed his reputation for high pressing means the Reds have not received the credit they deserve for dictating terms in matches.
And that claim is borne out by Opta stats – Liverpool boast an average possession percentage of 62.84 in the Premier League this season, behind only Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City (65.87).
“Our possession has improved dramatically,” he said.
“Manchester City this season has just a marginally better possession [rate] than we have. But if you ask someone about the difference between the two teams, they would say: Man City has a footballing approach, Liverpool [use] counter-pressing.
“A lot of times, our footballing approach is underestimated. We don’t say that counter-pressing is the only way of doing it right. It just made sense for us and is still an important part of our game. But we would like to have 90 per cent possession in a match.”
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