Jurgen Klopp described Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Burnley as the ‘best 12.30pm atmosphere’ Anfield has seen, as the Reds continued their winning start to the new Premier League season.
Goals from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane clinched the three points for the hosts, in a game they largely dominated from the off.
Klopp was full of praise for his players and the supporters who made the occasion so special in his post-match duties, while also discussing the officiating in a physical encounter against the Clarets.
But what exactly did the Liverpool boss say? Here are the best bits from the German’s interview.
“Everybody was really looking forward to this football festival, to this game, and I think nobody leaves this place today with any kind of disappointment because I think all of our dreams were fulfilled today, atmosphere-wise.
“That was, for sure, the best 12.30pm atmosphere we had. It was pretty special, really special. How the game was as well, pretty special, because Burnley are Burnley – and Burnley cause you problems. And Burnley caused us problems.
Klopp hailed the partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip after the game, but warned that they wouldn’t be able to play every match – hinting at plenty of rotation throughout the season.
“We are not surprised by that because they played together, they are both really good footballers and that’s how it is. I can tell you now already that because of the things that happened during the last year, we needed desperately to bring in the fourth centre-half and now we have six with Rhys and Nat Phillips.
“We needed that, so they will all play; the first four will definitely play altogether. We have to mix it up and we will do that because none of these guys, especially after a long injury, should now then play all the time three games a week.
“We need to find a way to get used to that, but for this game today there was no chance to change anything from last week because you needed to be used to each other to face this Burnley team. It’s really special, really specific and very aggressive and, as I said, with the new idea – let the game flow – it makes it not easier.
“It is the situation, it was a tough game, an intense game, how it always is against Burnley. We won it, it was not always like this, but sometimes as well, so let’s just keep going.”
Klopp also acknowledged that Van Dijk is still getting up to speed, but praised him for his display in such a combative and physical match.
“He was for sure in moments on the edge today, not physically, not in a dangerous way, just the intensity of the game was incredible – especially for the centre-halves. You are constantly in the air, the ref whistles absolutely nothing, strikers are in your body.
“That was a proper test today and, honestly, I love football, I love all these challenges, all these kind of things, yes, but we came from protecting the players slightly more to letting the game all flow. There is a grey area in between which for sure we will have to adapt again during the season because just now letting the game run doesn’t sound like it makes too much sense. We still need to talk about different things.”
The German coach was also keen to stress that although he’s not ‘the Pope of football’, he feels players need to be protected more, even if the new message is to ‘let the game flow’.
“I am not the Pope of football or whatever or any kind of priest who wants to tell the people what to do, really not. You might remember it, when we started to talk about the elbow in the challenge, all of a sudden all challenges in the air, we heard the whistle.
“It happened then that players started feeling something in the face even when nothing touched them because it helped always to do this… now there is a message, like a headline, ‘let the game flow’.
“It started with the penalties, ‘no soft penalties anymore’, which is absolutely fine. But we cannot forget that we have to protect the players as well and the challenges in the air… I don’t say they are all fouls, for sure not, most of the time it is a clear challenge but if you do these kind of things constantly.
“There are different ways to play football, obviously, that’s all fine, there were just a few harsh situations. We are early in the season and I don’t want to open already the box of Pandora, I just think we have to speak about these kind of things because the intensity of the season didn’t even start.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kostas Tsimikas caught the eye for the Reds, bagging assists from either flank. It was particularly positive for the Greek defender, who was stepping in to replace Andy Robertson.
“Both full-backs had a good game,” Klopp said. “Both spectacular, if you want, with two nice [assists] – Kostas with the cross and Trent with the little cheeky curve ball or whatever for Sadio. It was a good game.
“I think everybody thinks both full-backs played a good game and in this situation that means they were defensively really good as well in a really difficult game from a defensive point of view.”
Another man who did impress was Harvey Elliott. The 18-year-old was robbed of a sublime assist by an offside flag, and contributed superbly to his team’s victory. Klopp was keen to take the limelight away from the teenager, however.
“Harvey was part of this performance. Everybody wants to talk to me about Harvey and I understand absolutely – when an 18-year-old boy plays such a mature game I can understand why everyone was asking, but I was not surprised he played like this.
“That is exactly how he has trained now for six or seven weeks since we are back, since he is back from loan. Yes, it was good.”