Jürgen Klopp

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Liverpool’s murky Top Four path depends on Manchester United

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Liverpool is a historic club with incredible presence. Jurgen Klopp is a celebrated manager with a strong reputation as a players’ coach.

Those two facets will always make the club attractive to players. Missing out on the UEFA Champions League is another thing altogether and would put a huge dent in Klopp’s ambitious recruitment goals.

And right now, the Reds look destined to drop out of the Top Four.

[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Chelsea 32 24 3 5 65 27 38 13-0-2 11-3-3 75
 Tottenham Hotspur 32 21 8 3 68 22 46 15-2-0 6-6-3 71
 Liverpool 34 19 9 6 70 42 28 11-4-2 8-5-4 66
 Manchester City 32 19 7 6 63 35 28 8-6-1 11-1-5 64
 Manchester United 32 17 12 3 50 24 26 7-9-1 10-3-2 63
 Everton 34 16 10 8 60 37 23 12-4-1 4-6-7 58
 Arsenal 31 17 6 8 63 40 23 10-3-2 7-3-6 57

Even if Manchester United and Manchester City draw Thursday’s derby, both will be poised to pass the Reds by winning the match-in-hand.

Injury-ravaged United is bothered by UEFA Europa League duty against Celta Vigo, and has a brutal run-in that includes Spurs and Arsenal in addition to City. Liverpool has to hope United falls off, because Man City is likely going to walk over the Top Four line even with a draw in the derby.

The worst case scenario for Liverpool, aside from continuing to flail against clubs outside the Top Seven, is United toppling City on Thursday.

As an aside, it’s extremely unlikely that Arsenal leaps into the fray but if the Gunners did it would come at the expense of United.

Really, Liverpool’s run-in is perfectly built for two of its supporters’ favorite things: Winning matches and rooting against Manchester United. Here’s how they finish:

May 1 — at Watford
May 7 — vs. Southampton
May 14 — at West Ham United
May 21 — vs. Middlesbrough

Liverpool battered Watford 6-1 at Anfield and Boro 3-0 at the Riverside Stadium, but drew both Saints and West Ham earlier this season in addition to losing to Southampton in an EFL Cup semifinal.

Say the Reds nab a perfect 12 points to finish with 78; They’ll need City to take less than 14 from six remaining matches and United to earn less than 15 from six. The latter is far more likely than the former, but will matter very little if Klopp can’t motivate and organize his men in the final four matches.

Jurgen Klopp says he’s “proud” of Dortmund players

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Former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp was asked about his emotions in the aftermath of the bomb that struck the German club’s team bus on Tuesday.

Speaking at the prematch press conference ahead of Liverpool’s away game at West Brom on Sunday, Klopp said he feared for his former players and club at first, but was “proud” of their reaction and ability to play on such a tight turnaround from a traumatic event.

Klopp said he was initially informed of the attack by Liverpool press officer Matt McCann, but had to wait like everyone else to hear any more information about it. “I tried immediately to get information,” Klopp said. “It was strange and I was really concerned and I was scared for them. Then how it was for everybody, in the first moment it looked like a little bit of relief, not too serious, then the more information you could get, the more serious it got and that was really difficult.

“Of course, I had contact with a few people but I didn’t want to bother them with my silly questions that I had, so I was waiting like all the rest for more information in the media. I tried to watch everything I could watch, I tried to get the information I could get. The last thing I thought about in this moment was the game, actually.”

Klopp then expressed his pride towards his former club and the team’s ability to regroup and play a competitive game just 24 hours later. “I saw the game and I was really proud of Borussia Dortmund, how they handled it, how they created this atmosphere. Again, the game was not too important but when they played the game they tried to be at their best.”

The Liverpool manager said of course Dortmund would wish to take time before playing again, but also understood UEFA’s point of view in rescheduling the game the following day, a decision which has come under fire the past few days. “I can 100 percent understand both sides,” Klopp said. “It was difficult, first of all, to find another date in this really tight schedule because when would you want to play the game? But of course, I think they would understand if you say: ‘OK, we don’t play it, we find a solution next week.”

“I heard the interviews after the game and I saw the faces of my former players and saw the shock in their eyes and that was really hard, so I forgot the game again immediately. I only thought about them.”

Dortmund player Nuri Sahin was asked after the game how difficult it was to turn around and play the day after their lives were targeted, and his comments were striking, saying they hardly thought about the game until it kicked off.

“I don’t know if the people can understand this, but until I was on the pitch in the second half I did not think about football to be honest,” Sahin said of his entrance into the game as a second-half substitute. “Last night I didn’t realize what happened until I got through the door and my wife and son were waiting, there I felt how lucky we were. I know football is very important, we love football, we suffer with football, we love football. I know we earn a lot of money, we have a privileged life, but we are human beings, and there is so much more than football in this world, and last night we felt it.”

Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel, Klopp’s successor, was critical of UEFA’s decision to schedule the match so soon after the attack, saying the governing body acted as if “a beer can was thrown at our bus.”

Klopp praises ailing Coutinho’s big performance

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As usual, Jurgen Klopp was not at a loss for words to describe Liverpool’s come-from-behind win at Stoke City on Saturday.

Trailing on a Jon Walters goal, Klopp introduced Roberto Firmino and ailing Philippe Coutinho in the second half to inspire a 2-1 win that keeps the Reds third in the Premier League table.

[ RECAP: Stoke 1-2 Liverpool ]

Coutinho left Liverpool’s midweek match with illness, and wasn’t fit to start against Stoke. But the club’s predicament meant he’d need to gut out a performance.

He definitely did. How bad was the illness, Jurgen? Nearly seven pounds bad, apparently. From the BBC:

“Philippe Coutinho lost three kilos in the past three days, which some people wish – but for a professional footballer it’s not too cool.

Simon Mignolet saved our life. Job done, feels good. Nice weather, 63 points and I couldn’t feel any better.”

The win was huge and necessary, with the four teams chasing Liverpool all possessing matches in hand. Coutinho has been a wizard for the Reds in recent weeks (and years!).

Klopp: Mane’s season return “pretty much impossible”

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Liverpool will not have Sadio Mane back this season.

Jurgen Klopp branded the return of his Senegalese sensation “pretty much impossible” on Friday, saying Mane will likely need surgery after coming together with Leighton Baines in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday.

[ MORE: BVB’s Bartra tracks down brave fan ]

Klopp says “the only good news” is that Mane will be back for next season. The 24-year-old has 13 goals and 8 assists this season after arriving from Southampton, and Liverpool is 0W-3D-2L when he’s not started a PL game.

From LiverpoolFC.com:

“Sadio will, we’re pretty sure, need surgery. We’re not 100 per cent sure when it will happen, but then it is clear his season is over,” Klopp told reporters.

“That’s what I expected, actually, when I saw the video after the game. I thought he was lucky in this situation that not more happened, but now we are close to the end of the season and that means it will be pretty much impossible that he will play again this season.”

The only silver linings here are that Liverpool has plenty of attacking options, as defending is what’s plagued the Reds this season, and the Reds have a relatively easy run-in. That said, given Liverpool’s record against teams outside the Top Six…

Klopp: Bournemouth equalizer “nearly made me vomit”

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Jurgen Klopp took in-game heat, including from us, when he substituted Man of the Match contender Philippe Coutinho on Wednesday.

There had to be a reason for it, right?

Right.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 2-2 Bournemouth ]

Coutinho began to feel sick at halftime and told Klopp he needed to come off the pitch. Liverpool went on to blow a 2-1 lead and drew Bournemouth at Anfield.

Klopp was far from pleased with the result. From LiverpoolFC.com:

“We had the moments and we scored a wonderful goal, and usually you could close the game in one moment. We didn’t, we left it open. And then a second ball after a set-piece and that made me nearly vomit, actually. That’s, of course, not nice. But we have to take it. It’s my responsibility, all of this. I have to be clearer in these situations, obviously. But I will find a solution for this.”

Liverpool has been poor against bottom half teams this season, especially given their fantastic record against the best teams on the table. Whatever’s led to that, at least we know it wasn’t Klopp removing his most effective attacker for tactical reasons.