Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp is in constant contact with his squad via the players’ WhatsApp group. File / Agence France-Presse
Jurgen Klopp says his ability to build close relationships with his Liverpool players has been the secret to their success during his reign. Although the Premier League season is currently delayed until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus, Reds boss Klopp is in constant contact with his squad via the players’ WhatsApp group.
That personal touch is part of a hands-on approach Klopp believes is essential to understanding what makes his players tick.
The German obsesses over every detail of their lives so he can get the best out of them on the pitch, joking he probably even thinks about them in his sleep.
“Apart from sleeping, I think the whole day - in fact probably when I am sleeping - about these boys. I don’t want to, it just happens because there is so much information you have,” Klopp, speaking before the current suspension was enforced, told JD’s In The Duffle Bag podcast series.
“For me the most important thing is for the player to be in his best shape in the moment when it counts and we try to do that with nutrition, training and tactics.
“But then there is a time when they go home and there is still a situation. That is normal life but it all influences performance.
“I don’t pretend I’m interested. I am interested. It’s important to know who you are working with and it’s important to know why somebody is determined and motivated.
“I think I need to know them. That’s what creates a relationship. They can talk to me and it’s always important.”
Klopp is liked by his players because of that empathetic side to his personality and his methods have created a united mentality at Anfield.
“I’m always 100 per cent honest, I don’t tell always the truth, but that’s different...that means I don’t speak. If you ask me, I would be one hundred per cent honest,” Klopp said.
“I never lied to a player, that doesn’t work. If I say ‘You have a chance if you do this and that’, then you have a chance if you do this and that.
“But I have to remind myself these are the moments when you can lose a player or lose a team if you say something and don’t stick to it.
“It is really possible you lose the whole dressing room but it’s never happened to me because I don’t do that. I try to not do things which make me feel better.”
His honest approach is a bid to foster accountability among his players.
The results have been impressive, with Liverpool establishing a 25-point lead in the Premier League that had taken them to the brink of a first English title for 30 years prior to the virus suspension.
But now fans are wondering when, or even if, they will be crowned champions after the coronavirus laid waste to the global sporting calendar.
Liverpool supporters, desperate to reclaim their position at the pinnacle of the English game, agree with their German manager, saying the pandemic overshadows football.
Liverpool have stumbled in recent weeks, knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid and dumped out of the FA Cup by Chelsea. But they have been peerless in the Premier League.
With Alisson Becker in goal, Virgil van Dijk marshalling the defence and their devastating front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, klopp’s men have been irresistible.
Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber said if the season were to be “frozen” it would be unjust on Liverpool.
They also won last season’s Champions League and reached the final of Europe’s elite cub competition the season before that.
Liverpool’s players and the club’s foundation have contributed £40,000 ($46,000) towards ensuring the foodbank does not run dry at a time of crisis. Chelsea announced plans to do their bit by opening a hotel at Stamford Bridge to accommodate NHS staff.
Roberto Firmino’s strike ensured Liverpool made a record-breaking start for one of Europe’s top five leagues after beating Tottenham 1-0 on Saturday, but ending a 30-year wait to win the title is the only history Jurgen Klopp is interested in.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Monday that there is “no way” Liverpool should finish the season without the Premier League title, even if the campaign is cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Premier League clubs will meet on Friday to discuss whether it is realistic to complete the season during the coronavirus crisis or whether they will have to brace for a devastating financial hit.
All eyes will be once again on skipper Virat Kohli when Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) take on a high- flying Mumbai Indians (MI) in the IPL match in Dubai on Monday.
Valtteri Bottas took full advantage of a troubled day for his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to claim the ninth win of his career with a measured drive to victory in Sunday’s incident-packed Russian Grand Prix.
Former champion Stan Wawrinka brushed aside Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in the marquee match-up on the opening day of Roland Garros on Sunday.
It was a batting mayhem at the Sharjah Stadium as Rajasthan Royals chased down a mammoth total of 223 runs emerge winners against Kings XI Punjab by four wickets with two balls to spare in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Sunday.