The silence that enveloped the room was almost suffocating. Jurgen Klopp had his features engraved in stone.
He had just been asked whether, with Liverpool’s long injury problems, they would play against an under-23 Premier League team at the turn of the year.
After a moment of silence, he made a face and replied: “I understand the joke, I just don’t laugh !!” It really is not a laughing matter for the Reds boss. Not in one season, he says “no team is big enough” to face.
That is why he left behind the belief – the conviction – of a managerial life that is the quality that ends up winning titles. This season, this painful and terrible season, he said, becoming champion will be more a matter of luck than judgment.
“All the teams are quality, so that will always have an influence, but you have to be lucky with injuries,” he said, without an ounce of relief in his voice. Klopp is already tired of the challenge, he realized.
“Some things we can influence, run, make decisions, but whatever squads you have for problems, they are not enough.
“You can’t leave players out for four or five weeks because you don’t need them and then you bring them in and they’ll be convincing, in the best 100 percent form for the next game, I don’t think it’s always possible.”
Liverpool, of course, lost Virgil van Dijk practically all season, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has been out for months and has been without Alisson, Thiago, Joel Matip, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas in just six weeks of the season.
However, he knows there is no point in complaining about it. All the major Premier League clubs – ‘seven of us in Europe’ – are in the same boat, and the challenge is now simple: how to survive an unprecedented season in football history.
“It has an impact on the health of the players, but the boys like to play and have to be prepared for it. My job is to make decisions, change here, ride there and help everyone to be on the field in the best way ”, he explained.
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“It is very influential this time, of course. It will be interesting in the summer, after an incredibly intense season, to have a European Championship and, for the first time, three headlines on the international break.
“It makes October, November, December so challenging. We have all the information on the table, the schedules are there and we have to deal with it ”.
What Klopp does not want is for people to think for a second that he is groaning, when then there are much more serious problems in the world. “So it was always clear, life is at the moment, very difficult and we don’t make this football problem the biggest problem,” he said.
“My concern is the welfare of the players. From time to time, it is very important to talk about the mental well-being of the players, but we have to talk about the physical well-being of the players much more often.
“That’s because boys always want to play, even when they can’t. Therefore, we have to make lists of games and schedules where they can and are capable. “
It means being creative. He’s reduced to just a fit senior defender and, although Joel Matip is training again, it’s unlikely to be risky this weekend. There are young semi-finals, but Klopp will be thinking outside the box this season.
“We still have other options, like Hendo, Gini or James Milner or Andy Robertson, who can also play in midfield. They are no less than Mascherano and he played very well in that position. “
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