'It felt like a depression here' – Klopp notes change in lively Liverpool
Posted On March 22, 2019
The German says the Reds needed a lift when he arrived three years ago and that approach has set the platform for their title push this season
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says the atmosphere when he first arrived felt a “bit like a depression” and he employed his high-intensity pressing style in order to raise the mood around the club.
Klopp succeeded Brendan Rodgers as Reds boss in October 2015, leading the club to an eighth place finish in his first season in charge as well as reaching the finals of the Carabao Cup and Europa League.
Back-to-back top four finishes followed, with the Merseysiders also reaching the Champions League final last May.
Throughout that time Klopp’s side became known for their high-pressing, high-intensity style of play, though that sometimes meant they also conceded a number of goals at the other end.
That has changed significantly this season, with the high-profile additions of Alisson and January signing Virgil van Dijk combined with a slightly more conservative style tightening up the Merseysiders’ backline.
The result is a defence that has conceded just seven goals so far in the Premier League this season, a key factor in building a six-point lead at the top of the table
Klopp acknowledges the change in style this campaign and the weaknesses of the approach during his early years in charge at Anfield.
However, he says that style of play was necessary to lift the mood around the club and has ultimately benefited the side in the long-term.
“Of course, we had to develop. That’s what we do since I came in,” Klopp told ESPN.
“First, because it felt a little bit like a depression here. I think it made sense to be extremely lively. Yes, to make mistakes, but be very lively, very direct, very energetic.
“It was not perfectly organised. In a few parts we were pretty quick with organisation, but it was only the offensive pressing pretty much. All the other departments we were a bit random, I would say.
“That, of course, improved a lot, so we are now working together with big parts of the squad for more than three years, which is brilliant. And all the other players which we picked, they adapted pretty well because of different reasons. One is only quality and the other thing is that they have played similar styles of football in the club they were in before.
“It was clear, we have to become more stable. That’s what we try to do. It was a big thing in the summer obviously and the boys did the job so far. That’s why we could get the results we could get.”
Klopp also revealed another secret to the club’s success is the close bond he has with the squad.
The German is regularly seen hugging his players on the pitch at the end of matches, though he insists his relationship with them goes further than that and he isn’t afraid to be a disciplinarian when required.
“It’s unbelievably important,” he added. “But everybody has the opportunity to do that. That’s one of the reasons why I love the game so much.
“It’s so important to really stick together, to come close. It’s like a family, it’s more about each other. At the beginning we had a few problems, but you know he’s always on your side, he always wants to help you and stuff like that. Then you come closer and closer as a group.
“But if we have a training session and the boys are not spot on, I’m probably the loudest person in the world. It’s a waste of time. As long as we don’t waste time, we have no problem with a good atmosphere around the sessions, I have no problem with the good atmosphere in the sessions.
“But I expect 100 percent concentration because we train an hour and a half or whatever a day. These 90 minutes, let’s cut off all other things and try to use the information we give as good as possible.
“The general relationship we have is full of trust and faith — that’s true, from both sides. I trust the boys 100 percent and I hope they do the same.
“Between the games, it’s not that I’m always there and we constantly hug each other or whatever. That’s not like this. It’s always because of the game and because of the work and nothing personal.
“It’s both – friend and drill sergeant.”