Jürgen Klopp rallies Liverpool to face Ajax after ‘five days of truth’

Jürgen Klopp has demanded Liverpool respond to the worst display of his Anfield reign when they host Ajax on Tuesday after he delivered “four or five days of absolute truth” following 
the rout by Napoli.

Time has not mellowed the Liverpool manager’s assessment of the 4-1 defeat in Naples last Wednesday. Klopp admitted it was a defensive shambles that asked questions of everyone involved, himself included, and left him in a challenging situation. He insists Liverpool must react with a united, solid performance to kickstart their Champions League campaign.

“I watched the game back plenty of times and it was a real horror show, to be honest,” said Klopp, who will be without the injured Andy Robertson until after the international break. “It was the worst game we played since I was here. We had a few bad games – everyone remembers Aston Villa [beating his side 7-2] and some others where we were just not up to speed, but there were always glimpses in these games. In this particular game: nothing.

“Eight out of 11 were below their level and the three others were not on a top level, just a normal game. In football like this, you solve all individual problems as a team and that’s the first thing we have to do, to follow common ideas again. Everything what we did since I am here and everything my teams do in football is based on a really solid if not perfect defending. That’s where it all starts and that is what we had to work on.”

Liverpool players during training on Monday.
Liverpool players during training on Monday. 

Klopp admits the Napoli performance put him in the rare position of questioning Liverpool’s players, and he did not hold back over recent days, when training has focused on basic defensive principles. As Joël Matip put it: “Sometimes it hurts but in a good team, which I think we are, you can speak about these truths. Everybody knows we have to improve.”

Klopp said: “Did I question the players? Generally, no. In this situation, yes. I know the players want to sort the situation: we are not over the moon about our season so far. In this game it looked like everyone wanted to sort the problem out by themselves and that didn’t give us the structure to work together.

“There are four or five days now of absolute truth. We didn’t hide anything, we didn’t hold back anything, we just said it how it is. Not to knock the players down or whatever, just to make sure where we are now is the starting point for us and we make sure we sort the problems together on the pitch.”

Klopp added: “Is this the situation I wanted? No. But now you are in it you find it interesting and challenging. I watched the game back plenty of times and I would have asked a lot of questions about the people and the manager and the specific players. That is absolutely OK but it cannot be our biggest problem in this moment and we have to respond.”


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