Jürgen Klopp met with the media on Friday, August 11th to discuss the Reds' matchup with Chelsea to open the Premier League season. The boss discussed the potential impact of Chelsea's new manager Mauricio Pochettino on the club, how different the identity of Liverpool will be compared to last season and the prospect of more added time at the end of each half.
It takes time to tell what effect a new manager will have on a club. This is Pochettino's first (regular season) match in charge. It will be hard to clean much before Chelsea takes the pitch, but Klopp has a few guesses about how they will play.
“Of course not, we don't know [the impact] yet,” Klopp said. “We played against Mauricio often when he was at Tottenham, so you can see a lot of similarities from that time and in the end we don't know exactly. I think Nkunku was a key part of the plans. Very unfortunate for the boy and for Chelsea with his bad injury. I think that was something they really planned with, but they have really good options offensively to solve that. Let's see. It's the first football game, real competitive football game for us this season. We don't want to waste time, or whatever, we really want to go for it, but we have to see how it goes. Everybody asks, and I am more than 20 years in the business, it's always the first game, people say you don't know where you stand exactly, I'm not really interested, to be honest. I want us to 100 percent [see] what we have that day and from there we go. I think we should give it a proper try.”
Of course, every year will play out differently. New storylines and heroes will emerge over the course of the season, but there are certain hallmarks of a Klopp-led team that don't change. Even so, some big names are no longer with the club and will have a different feel to it without several mainstays.
“We have to grow into that (identity),” Klopp said. “It's now not that you can just... it didn't happen eight years ago with Hendo [becoming captain], or whenever it was, it will not happen now. It's not about that. We don't have to always say, 'But Millie would've said that and Hendo would've said that, and Hendo would've shouted here, and Bobby would've smiled here.' We should not do it like that. That makes no sense. We have this kind of new start with this Liverpool FC reloaded, if you want, it's an exciting thing. Everybody was asking for changes, rightly so, because we were together for a long time and things went really well and then not that well anymore, stuff like this; timing for a change is probably the biggest challenge in life to find that. Did we do it exactly in the right moment? [It's] difficult to answer but now it happened and that's good. “
There is nothing wrong with a little extra football. The EPL and other leagues have introduced measures to have extra time more accurately reflected to cut down on time-wasting and gamesmanship. Klopp has mixed feelings about the measure, however.
“It's difficult to answer,” he said. “I know where you're coming from, we have a 90-minute game and in the end you have a net game time ball in play between 50 and 55 minutes and stuff like this. And everybody could ask, 'Where is the ball the other time?' There are obviously moments where the ball is out and that's part of the game and that's completely fine, but how much do we have to extend that in this moment? In the end, if we can get to 55 to 60 minutes ball in play, we will see, that doesn't sound too difficult, I have to say. having three or four minutes a game more ball in play, I can't see it now it will make a massive difference. We will see. There will be a massive difference in the end if you have 10 minutes extra time. I hope at the end we find a good solution together, that we don't have 10 to 15 minutes extra time and yellow cards everywhere.”
The most exciting part of the press conference for me was Klopp's admission that things could be drastically different with the club this season. Security blankets and team leaders James Milner and Jordan Henderson are gone and the team will take on the personality of a new group of players. As Klopp said, we will have to wait and see what that personality is. One thing is for sure. It will be different from last year.
“I am more than 20 years in the business, it's always the first game, people say you don't know where you stand exactly, I'm not really interested, to be honest. I want us to 100 percent [see] what we have that day and from there we go. I think we should give it a proper try.”
“I hope at the end we find a good solution together, that we don't have 10 to 15 minutes extra time and yellow cards everywhere.”