He was asked about the noise that 70,000 voices will make. He was asked about how he would deal with a Manchester United side that would hurl itself at Liverpool on Thursday evening. He was asked about the well-researched fact that no manager in 80 years had ever won his first match at Old Trafford. To all those questions Jürgen Klopp smiled in the knowledge that his side were 2-0 up from the first leg. There was nothing much more to add.
“There will be a good atmosphere at Old Trafford and I like it when all the people hate you,” the Liverpool manager said. “I don’t understand what the crowd are singing so it is easy for me. In Liverpool the atmosphere was special for the first leg but, if we had played poorly, it would not have been that easy for us. We will decide how good the atmosphere is.
“This will not be a game between the fans of Manchester United and Liverpool but two good teams against each other,” Klopp added.
“Everyone is talking about how Manchester United will strike back. We are here with one of the best first-leg results you can get. Why should we find anything negative in this situation? To go through, all we have to do is play as well as we know we can.”
Like United under Louis van Gaal, Klopp’s Liverpool have tended to perform better on the grand occasion. They have lost away to Watford and Newcastle and yet put seven goals past Manchester City over two matches and destroyed United in the Europa League first leg of what for both clubs was their game of the season.
Liverpool would have been more likely to have faltered away to Augsburg in the last round than at Old Trafford. In the eight previous matches in the Europa League before they pressed and suffocated United to death at Anfield, Liverpool had averaged less than a goal a game.
Klopp’s captain, Jordan Henderson, claimed: “When we are firing on all cylinders, there are not many teams that can live with us.” What he might have added is that no team playing as supinely as United did at Anfield in the first leg would have kept Liverpool at bay.
Unlike Van Gaal, who chose not to train at Anfield or take his team across to Merseyside the night before the first leg, Klopp has treated the return game as if it were a normal European tie. Liverpool checked into a Manchester hotel and trained at their opponents’ ground.
“I like to take the opportunity to breathe in the stadium,” Klopp said. “I like to imagine what can happen the next day and I have always enjoyed walking round the opposition stadium the night before. I had no doubt after the draw that we would take the opportunity to do it.”
Klopp smiled when asked what he would be imagining as he stared out at Old Trafford’s empty stands as Liverpool went through their training routine. “The ball is round, everything can happen,” he smiled, echoing a quote from the former West Germany coach Sepp Herberger, who ironically managed to win the 1954 World Cup final after going two goals down against Hungary.
“We are not scared or afraid, we have a chance and we have done the best we can do,” said Klopp. “Our position is good but not perfect and this won’t be a holiday but it will be some real hard work. I knew it would be before the draw and I knew it after the first leg. But I feel better now because I don’t have to wait another five days for the match.
“We want to take this chance and we want to take it for us. That is all. If you want something, it doesn’t mean you are going to get it. A lot of times in life you don’t get what you want.”Reuse content