Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp spoke to the press ahead of Sunday’s game against West Bromwich Albion.
He commented on this week’s events in Dortmund, Mamadou Sakho’s loan contract, and looked ahead to the coming fixtures in terms of injuries and the chance of Champions League qualification.
He also confirmed that Steven Gerrard will be taking a job with the Liverpool under-18s next season.
By James Nalton at Melwood.
The ex-Dortmund manager expressed concern about his former team who were the victims of a bomb attack on their team bus prior to Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Monaco.
Klopp paused for thought when asked about the incident, and showed in his eventual response how concerned he was for the players and staff, many of whom he’ll know personally.
“I don’t think what I say is too important, but it was a really difficult moment,” said the German.
“I know exactly the road, I know exactly the place where it is. A lot of my friends were on that bus.
“I was on my way home from Melwood and I heard that something happened with the bus and I tried immediately to get some information. I was really concerned, I was scared for them.
“I had contact with a few people but didn’t want to bother them with my questions so waited like the rest of the world for more information. I tried to watch everything i could watch, get all the information i could get.
“The last thing i thought about was the game.”
The game was rescheduled for Wednesday when Dortmund were defeated 3-2 at home against Monaco, but like the rest of those watching the coverage during and after the game, Klopp was moved by the post-match interviews with the players.
“I saw the game and I was really proud of Borussia Dortmund, how they handled it, how they created the atmosphere.
“They tried to be at their best.
“Then I heard the interviews after the game. I saw the faces of my former players an could see the shock in their eyes and that was really hard, so I forgot the game again, immediately.
“I’m pretty sure if somebody who made the decision afterwards would have been on the bus, they would not have played the game.”
“We have to carry on,” added the manager. “But when you asked me about this, it’s different.”
Carrying on, the Liverpool manager gave his view on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist which was announced today.
No Liverpool players made the cut.
“They are all good players,” said Klopp when informed of this season’s shortlist, but believes that if any of his own players want to be on it next season, it’s up to them to make sure they can’t be ignored.
“It’s their [the players’] decision,” he said.
“A few players could have been nominated, but if not then we have to work better and harder next year so they cannot oversee us.
“It’s not a big problem for me, but I’m a little surprised, yes.”
As far as the game against West Brom is concerned, Klopp confirmed that the team would once again be without Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson, and that they are also likely to miss the game against Crystal Palace.
The manager hopes to have his English midfield pair back in training prior to the Watford game at the beginning of May, when he’ll be hoping to be well on the way to Champions League qualification.
“I don’t think about [a points target],” he said of his team’s chances of a top four finish.
“If we win the rest of the games then we will be in the Champions League. Even if a few teams have more games than we have, they play a against each other so cannot get all the points.
“I think the challenge at West Brom is big enough, and really earns all our respect and all our concentration.
“[We had] a longer training week so we thought it makes sense to use it and prepare well for this game, and that’s what we did.
“We need to be at our best because West Brom plays an outstanding season. We know about their qualities, we know about their style, we know they are maybe the most experienced team in the Premier League, and they play at home. We go there and we want to show that we have big targets this season.
“If we can do this then we have a chance.”
Youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn started the last game at Stoke, and the manager revealed a few areas of the game where the former can improve.
“Trent is an outstanding talent, it’s no secret. The good news is he’s our boy,” he said.
“If you ask me where he can, should, improve most, biggest potential to improve is in defence. He played No 6 or No 8 in [the U23] team, he played full back of course, for us he played full back winger and wing back.
“The difference between youth football and adult football is that there are only brilliant players around. Most of them are as quick as you.
“He has to improve in everything. Offensively he’s close to 100%, but defence wise is what we’re working on.
“I think the games are not part of the education, it’s more the training. We bring him to games because we think he can do this. We don’t think ‘we are not sure he can do, this but let’s try.'”
Steven Gerrard has been working with players who will be looking to emulate the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Woodburn, and Klopp revealed that the Liverpool legend will be taking a job with the under-18s next season.
“There is no real announcement, but what i can say is yes he’s doing a real job at the moment at the academy.
“They [the players] all enjoy it a lot and he enjoys it a lot. He will be coach of the youth team next season, I’m pretty sure, but we will tell you exactly which team when we want to tell you!”
Finally, Klopp categorically denied that there is a clause in Sakho’s loan contract which would allow Crystal Palace to buy the French defender at the end of the season.
“There is no clause in the loan contract with Crystal Palace,” said Klopp, emphatically.