Jürgen Klopp is not concerned that Liverpool’s dressing room morale might fall apart as a result of the narrow defeat at Manchester City. He intends to make a number of changes for Monday’s FA Cup tie at Wolves but is confident that after that it will be league business as usual.
“All the boys in the squad are pretty experienced at dealing with defeat,” the Liverpool manager said. “We’ve had a few of them before. This was just our first in the league and we actually played quite well at the Etihad. I don’t think we need to feel insecure about losing 2-1.
“We gave City a good game and it was a very tight game. We were unlucky at times but that’s absolutely OK because when City came to Anfield they missed a late penalty. That could have been a defeat for us right back in October but it wasn’t.”
Klopp actually feels that by some measures Liverpool did better against City in defeat than they did on the occasions last season when they won. “There is nothing wrong with going down narrowly at the Etihad,” he said. “I regard that as the most difficult place in England to go and get a result and this time the margins were so fine that I would say the game was shared roughly 50-50.
“In the past, even when we have won, it’s been more like 60-40 in City’s favour. Even when we beat them 3-0 in the Champions League last season City still had a lot of the game, we were under pressure for long periods and the reason we won was that we were quite clinical in taking our chances.
“The last game was different from all the others we have played against City; there were two teams matching each other and I think that shows how much we have improved. My assessment of the game was positive – not of the result but of the game. It was not perfect because we lost but you can’t always expect perfection and we lost by the smallest difference you can get, so there’s no need to make a big fuss of it.”
Liverpool are away to Brighton next in the Premier League, a game Klopp is fully aware might be tricky based on the home team’s form, but before that there is Wolves and a welcome respite from the intensity of the league programme over the holiday period.
Simon Mignolet will get a game in goal, there will most likely be starts for Naby Keïta and Adam Lallana, and Klopp says he will have no problem at all in calling on Alberto Moreno, the left-back who went public at the end of last year with his dissatisfaction over a lack of game time.
“I understand Alberto’s position, he has been unbelievably professional and he is a really important part of the dressing room,” the manager said.
Nonetheless Liverpool have just sold Dominic Solanke to Bournemouth and allowed Nathaniel Clyne to join the same club on loan in recognition of the fact that players in their peak years need to be playing. “Football is a business and we received a good offer for Dominic but you also have to think about people and their situations,” Klopp said.
“Having people in reserve is a great option for a manager but Nat Clyne, for instance, is at that age where he has to be playing. He asked me if he could go and I thought about it and said yes, because no one wants to block a career. You can always keep hold of a player but keeping him in the right shape and level of confidence is not so easy if he is not playing many games. Nat was out for a while injured and, when he came back, the situation had moved on. It’s a shame but that’s football; it’s the way things are.”