Jürgen Klopp: Luton Town ‘are in a good moment’ and ‘deserve respect’ ahead of Anfield visit

As Liverpool prepare to welcome Luton Town to Anfield on Wednesday, Jürgen Klopp addressed the media from the club’s AXA Training Centre. The departing manager answered questions on flexibility within his squad, how he views Wednesday’s opponents and his thoughts on Roy Hodgson’s decision to step away from his duties at Crystal Palace.

‘There are 5,000 different ways to win a football game’

It is no secret that Liverpool have been hit hard by a flurry of injuries throughout the season so far – but Klopp remained diplomatic as he assessed how he and his team have been forced to adapt. ‘It’s not a real problem, to be honest; as long as we have enough players available you use the boys, you know them and you know what they can do,’ he told reporters.

‘We actually didn’t see it like that, to be honest. In the moment when we had the problems with both left-backs – both natural left-backs – out, stuff like this, you find a solution and the solution worked out brilliantly.’

‘When you don’t have the sixes you would see before the season, who can play there, they are not available [so] how can you sort that? So, that is actually the job to do, I would say. As long as it is not an hour before the game – because then it becomes really tricky because that’s then only a little talk and hope!’

Embed from Getty Images

‘As long as you have a session at least, then it is fine because these boys are all really good on the ball and have to be good against the ball, and that changed only slightly, probably, in different moments. Yes, we had to be flexible but that was rather good fun than a problem, to be honest.’

‘The thing is, we have now a situation… in the moment when you just got the news [about injuries], you just deal with it and you go from there and there is no excuses. We will try absolutely everything.’

‘We said it before – there are 5,000 different ways to win a football game and we only have to find one and that should always be possible, especially at home where we can, if we are all ready, generate a dynamic where people can grow above themselves. It’s just that you really become the best version of yourself and who cares then about the number on your back or the position you play?’

‘It’s actually not too important, it’s about what can you contribute and what can you bring to the team and that’s what I think, if we didn’t know it before we all learned it this year, 100 per cent. And the boys liked that as well, they liked the different approaches, let me say it like that, always based on the situation we have as a team and that’s what we will keep trying.’

Gakpo would admit ‘it is not the best season of his life’

Cody Gakpo netted his tenth goal of the season against Brentford last time out, as the Reds recorded a convincing victory in West London. Klopp was asked if the Dutchman’s season has gone under the radar, and took responsibility for the brief dip in his form earlier in the campaign.

‘That Cody had a bit of a struggle in between the season was more my fault. Can Cody play a midfield position for us? Yes, he can, in different moments. Is it his position now? I would say no, that’s not. The offensive part of the role he can definitely play, but with the defensive things, which he was not used to, that cost him a bit of confidence in moments, you could see that.’

Embed from Getty Images

‘These things happen,’ explained Klopp, ‘and will help him in the long term anyway, but in the short term you cannot always directly see it. But now he is absolutely there, and as long as we can avoid that then we will probably not bring him in midfield and then it is very offensive, which again I am 100 per cent sure is possible.’

‘But it was not ‘under the radar’. If you would ask Cody, he would not say it is the best season of his life but we all know how good a player he is and he is always a threat. He can be a threat in the air, he is on the ground really good, has a super finish, a good nose for finishing situations, a good dribbler, can keep the ball for us. Plenty of super things we can use and we need and yeah, that’s it pretty much!’

Luton Town ‘deserve respect and we have to show that’

Luton Town have been something of a surprise package in the Premier League this season, with Rob Edwards’ side level on points with Everton. The Hatters boss insisted that his side want to stay up on merit, and not because of the Toffees ten-point deduction.

Kenilworth Road has become a fortress this season, and Luton Town have managed to put some of the Premier League’s strongest sides under the cosh – posing a particular threat from set pieces. Klopp insisted that Liverpool need to show the Hatters respect when they visit Anfield on Wednesday.

‘There is no team in the Premier League who doesn’t deserve the respect around their offensive set-pieces because it is a situation where you get completely differently judged in England, I am long enough here to know that, but it is like this. You are completely differently judged in England like you are in other countries.’

‘The six-yard box is just another area where everybody can connect pretty actively, I would say, around the goalkeeper, so we have to be really spot on in these moments. Yes, I saw the game against [Manchester] United and saw other cuts of other games as well, so set-pieces are one strength but I have to say the way they play their system [and] the confidence level, because they are in a good moment if you go through the results in the last few weeks, it is incredible. In the end, it is still only 20 points if I am right, but even the games they lost they were really in the game.’

Embed from Getty Images

‘We experienced a tough game there, but that was a completely different game to how they act now. At that time they were rather passive, deep defending, counter-attacking… they have that still, but now in possession they found a structure where everybody feels really comfortable.’

‘I think the situation at Bournemouth a few weeks ago, or months ago, with their captain is something which brought them even closer together and showed them there are worse things in life than maybe getting relegated, so fight for the chance you have. That’s how they show up, so I respect that a lot.’

‘In general, they deserve respect and we have to show that with a proper Liverpool performance – and with a Liverpool performance I mean really everybody who enters the gate to Anfield has to be on their toes tomorrow night because they are really good.’

Hodgson is ‘one of the greatest I ever met’

With uncertainty surrounding his role as Crystal Palace manager, Roy Hodgson announced on Tuesday that he would be stepping down with immediate effect after falling ill during a training session late last week. Oliver Glasner has already been confirmed as Hodgson’s replacement, bringing forward a move that was set to happen in the summer.

Klopp told reporters that ‘I think I said a couple of times I don’t really understand why [Hodgson] is still doing the job! With my situation he’ll probably understand a bit better, but I don’t understand what he is doing! One of the greatest I ever met, definitely, for that long time in the business [he is a] human full of experience.’

Embed from Getty Images

‘[He] trend-set in the beginning; he kept his idea. It’s always like this when it’s not going well. That’s the problem in our business then people forget a little bit how good the times were before. I think Crystal Palace could be like that if there were some supporters who were shouting for him to get the sack. They definitely forgot how good a job he did in the few times when he was there.’

‘I hope he is doing well. I hope because that obviously was a shock last week when I heard about that he was taken ill in training. That’s nothing that should happen at all. I hope he is doing well and when he is doing well then I wish him just the very best of times that he can have and stay healthy.’

‘That would be the most important but it’s a bit of a shame that I couldn’t say properly goodbye to him because we faced each other quite frequently and like each other a lot. But, yeah, that’s not the biggest problem.’