Jürgen Klopp has said there are similarities between the team spirit at Liverpool and that at the Borussia Dortmund side he guided to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final.
Liverpool’s attacking prowess has been behind their emergence as Premier League contenders but Klopp believes the camaraderie that has developed on his watch is another factor. He says the atmosphere is reminiscent of Dortmund, whom he led to five titles during a successful seven-year spell in charge.
Klopp, who begins a run of three league games in seven days at home to Stoke City on Tuesday, said: “I am still in contact with a lot of the Dortmund players and hopefully I will be in contact after my time at Liverpool with these players because they are nice lads. That is first of all. But they are not here because they are nice lads; they are outstanding footballers and I love working with them and really appreciate them.
“We have an atmosphere which is as good as it should be because of all the people working here. We had our Christmas party last week and it was really nice having all the people around. It was a big difference after one year because you know all of them. After three months I still had no idea the name of certain staff. We have a completely different situation to last year. It is not the same but similar to what we had at Dortmund.”
Klopp could have Joël Matip available against Stoke having omitted the Cameroon international from the win over Everton to allow a persistent ankle problem to settle. The defender also missed games against Bournemouth and Middlesbrough because of the injury, which Liverpool hope will improve through rest, but the team have kept two consecutive clean sheets with his replacement, Ragnar Klavan, impressing in both matches.
The Liverpool manager said Klavan has begun to settle in the Premier League following his £4.2m summer transfer from Augsburg. “We were never in doubt about him,” he said. “That is how we always work. We always decide for the player, not against the other one.
“We saw the good moment Ragnar and Lucas Leiva were in. Joe Gomez is in a good way too. It was clear there is no reason for rushing Joël back even though everyone outside thought that without Matip we could not get anything. That was good and I said a few times before that timing is very important. A few weeks ago Ragnar was not struggling but he was not that player he is now because he still needed to adapt a little bit to all the circumstances. Now he is in a really good moment and we should use it.”