Jurgen Klopp has admitted he was unsure how to approach Liverpool’s last visit to Manchester City when they were comfortably beaten just days after being crowned Premier League champions.
The Reds suffered their heaviest defeat of the title-winning campaign in July when City ran out 4-0 winners a week after Klopp’s side were officially confirmed as league winners.
Pep Guardiola’s men took full advantage of Liverpool’s lethargy at the Etihad to condemn them to what was just their second defeat of the campaign up to that point.
Klopp accepts his team went into the match without their usual levels of focus with the game coming so soon after their success.
“If you are not 100 per cent focused on the game against Manchester City, you will lose big!” Klopp said as he prepared to head back to the Etihad on Sunday afternoon.
“I am not sure I needed that game as proof but that is 100 per cent the case. It’s the first time we won the league in England, so I had no idea how to prepare for the next game, actually.”
Klopp said he was not clear on how best to deliver his pre-match talk to his players, revealing that he did not want to diminish the scale of the achievement just days after Liverpool were named champions for the first time in 30 years.
He added: “I didn’t want to overdo it and say ‘boys, forget it, whatever happened three days ago, forget it’ and all these kinds of things.
“I didn’t do that. I am not sure if that was right or wrong. I know my boys wanted to win that game but we were not as focused as we usually are.
“That doesn’t say a lot but it explains it a little bit. We played some good stuff that night but unfortunately we didn’t score and they scored four times, so that is how it was.
“It was not the most heavy defeat in my life.”
Despite that result in Manchester back in the summer, Klopp’s record against Guardiola is generally a good one, having won nine times against the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach – the most of any manager in world football.
“I should meet Pep more often!” he joked.
“I am happy that we don’t meet more often to be honest because of the quality he and his team have, but no, I am not aware of any records.
“But I know we have met from time to time and I know that we haven’t lost all of them. All the games were incredibly difficult and really intense.
“That is the only thing I am concerned about really, not how we played in the last game in the summer or whenever it was. It was just that we were really ready to compete in the game.
“And for that, we need to have close to perfect organisation and we need to be really brave, play our own football and cause them problems as well.
“All together, it sounds so easy and it is not rocket science but it is still really difficult for us. It’s massive pressure because they can cause so much pressure but so can we as well.
“So it is just an interesting game always and hopefully it will be interesting as well on Sunday as that means we will have been good and that is the first step in the right direction.”
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Victory for Liverpool on Sunday will see them return to the top of the Premier League heading into the November international break and it’s been a good response from the champions since the previous round of national games last month.
The Reds have taken seven points from nine on offer since mid-October and are aiming to keep a five-game unbeaten run in all competitions going.
Asked what he and his players have worked on since the 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa on October 4, Klopp said he did not feel the need to drastically alter his strategy based on one result, however jarring.
“We have worked on defending,” Klopp said. “I don’t know how many goals we have conceded actually but it is too many.
“Seven at Villa, three against Leeds, two at Everton, so already that is 12.
“So we played some other games where we have conceded as well, but defending is usually not our problem because we defend as a unit.
“Yes, it helps massively when all your best players are on the pitch because there are moments when the individual has to defend what the unit couldn’t defend before.
“But it was not that after Aston Villa I said ‘come on, we start again at 8am [and it’s] how to defend.’ at all.
“We knew what we didn’t do right that night and in one or two other games as well. We just tried to sort that without overdoing it.
“Even when you concede seven goals, it is not that you start at nil again. So we were quite relaxed about it, as relaxed as you can be in how we deal with it in that moment.
“But nobody was relaxed at all, we were all frustrated but it was about how we deal with it. It was clear that it was not all bad what was good before but some things needed to be adjusted.”