LONDON — Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool debut turned out to be a “modest one”, as the German coach who dubbed himself as the “normal one” during his unveiling last week got a controlled yet rather average performance from his side during the 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur,
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Klopp, 48, gesticulated ferociously on the sidelines during his Premier League bow and bought plenty of passion to Liverpool’s draw, with the former Borussia Dortmund boss whistling and waving his hands all over the place as he seemed to enjoy his first outing as Liverpool boss.
Before the game Klopp was mobbed by the photographers as he took to the bench. As he looked over to the Liverpool fans in one corner of White Hart Lane, he paused to see the flags and banners in German colors and one in particular stood out. “Liverpool Uber Alles.”
In his post-match press conference, Klopp was asked how he assessed his team play as he set the team up in a 4-3-2-1 formation with Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho supporting Belgian youngster Divock Origi in attack.
“I am satisfied with the start. This is not the worst sign because I did not have the biggest expectations for the game,” Klopp said. “I have only been working with the team for three days and Tottenham are a very, very strong side and well-tuned team. It could have been difficult but I am really satisfied because the start was brilliant. We surprised them a little bit, when we didn’t get on the first ball we got the second ball. We were there, with the timing. Divock, Coutinho and Adam were perfect and the three behind, good positions for them I think. They did well.”
Origi was closest to giving Liverpool the lead, as they came flying out of the traps and gave Spurs plenty of problems early on with the solid trio of Emre Can, Lucas and James Milner protecting the back four. Origi hit the crossbar with a header from close-range and he had another chance saved by Hugo Lloris late on during his first PL start. After the game Klopp revealed he tried to sign the Belgian youngster when he was at Dortmund and is a big admirer of the forward suddenly elevated to Liverpool’s starter following injuries to Daniel Sturridge, Christian Benteke and Danny Ings.
Liverpool did fade at the end of the first half and start of the second half as Klopp’s expectations of high-pressing seemed to take its toll, but the German coach believed an eagerness to impress may have led to his team not creating too many goalscoring opportunities.
“The problem of the game was that when we had the ball we were not cool enough. We didn’t use our skills. We were a little too hectic or eager. Something like this,” Klopp said. “We didn’t see the option as much but it is normal. You start like this, you got the ball from this space and you should open your view and you can play it this side because Tottenham is a zonal defending team. We didn’t use these situations but we had our moments. A very good corner [Origi’s header against the bar] and some other situations where we could have been a little better but for today it is really okay. After three or four days it was brilliant. Now we have our own experience together and we can go on working.”
As aforementioned, Klopp’s first taste of the PL came without several key players and following the bad news this week that both Danny Ings and Joe Gomez will likely miss the rest of the season with ACL injuries, while Sturridge and Benteke’s prognosis is much more promising.
“We had a bad week with injuries this week and the best thing is that it is not a serious with Daniel. In a week like this with two ACL injuries, you cannot risk it. He had a one-on-one situation with Jordon Ibe in training. I didn’t see it but afterwards he had a little pain in the muscle. You can see a little bit of swelling but we have to see. I hope he is on Thursday ready to play but I don’t know. When I came here and I thought about Liverpool and four strikers of this quality, now I have one. I like Divock, young [Jerome] Sinclair was on the bench and close to coming in. I don’t think about players I do not have because it doesn’t make sense. Danny Ings will be out for a while, hopefully Christian Benteke will be back for Rubin Kazan and Southampton next week. The best situation is when all the players are 100 percent. That doesn’t happen that often.”