Jurgen Klopp has responded angrily to Gary Neville’s suggestion that Liverpool ignore the Champions League this season to focus on pursuing the Premier League title.
“The Champions League – if I was Liverpool, I would kick it into touch,” he said in an interview with the Times.
Liverpool’s league form trailed off towards the end of last season as they went all the way to the final in Kiev, allowing Manchester United to clinch second spot. Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2007/08 side remain the only team in Premier League history to win the a league and Champions League double.
“I know that’s very hard to do but if they could go into February, March, April without it, I think they could have a real chance [of winning the league] if they had free weeks.”How would that work? We don’t play CL or what?
Speaking in a press conference, Klopp was quick to slam Neville’s idea, noting that sitting in an office talking about football is very different to actual management.
“Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that works.
“How do you prepare for a game when you don’t focus on it? I don’t understand, do we play our kids or what?To focus on one competition can only be if you are out, or nearly out, or if it’s late in the season.
“Last year I don’t think even think Gary would have said ‘let City win in the CL’. Sitting in an office talking about football is different to doing the job.”
Neville was almost definitely speaking in a theoretical sense here, merely offering a point of view, a kind of thought experiment.
But that doesn’t stop Klopp from having a nibble. Klopp likes a nimble. He is a man who takes things very literally. He does not plan responses but rather speaks from the heart. If Mourinho were in his shoes, he would have meticulously prepared a speech to demonstrate, mathematically and ideologically, why this idea was wrong. That is a key difference between Klopp and Mourinho.
Either way, Neville was, once again, speaking in purely figurate terms. We all need to calm down a bit, I think.