Klopp defends Liverpool: “Not far away from a real challenger”

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NEWCASTLE — Jurgen Klopp cut a frustrated figure throughout Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday.

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The German coach chuntered away at the fourth official on multiple occasions, seemed annoyed by Newcastle coming back onto the pitch later than usual for the second half and was screaming at his players as they allowed Newcastle to dictate the midfield and shut down any rhythm his side created.

Following Philippe Coutinho‘s screamer to make it 1-0, a sloppy, and now characteristic, defensive mistake cost the Reds all three points and Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Daniel Sturridge were all guilty of missing key chances.

Speaking to the media after the game, Klopp was tetchy as one reporter suggested it was a fair result for Liverpool to draw at Newcastle.

“Was it the first football game you saw?” Klopp replied. “Interesting. I thought we were the better and the more active side. We created better chances, didn’t we?”

Klopp went on to try and defend his team after the mistake for the first goal saw Jonjo Shelvey thread through a perfect ball for Joselu to run on to after his two center backs, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren, were caught napping.

“It was a good goal. A good pass absolutely in the right moment. For me it looks like some of us didn’t see the ball because two or three players are in front of them,” Klopp said. “If they see it they have to make a step and then Joselu is offside and then in the end it is unlucky. We cleared the ball pretty much but the ball then went into the corner.”

Going into the international break Klopp’s side have 12 points after their first seven games of the Premier League season and have just one win in seven games in all competitions.

“It feels not to cool you can imagine. I played a lot of times with different teams in my life and got a point and after it feels like you won a point. We have a problem because we have to play better next game otherwise we will not get a point,” Klopp explained. “We are the better team. Again. We created better chances. Again. We were in very promising situations and then we don’t score. That is of course the problem. I know, I have been in football long enough that one day when the knot opens maybe we will score more than one time. That’s pretty likely.”

Asked further about a poor run of form for his side which has seen them lose in the League Cup to Leicester City, draw with both Spartak Moscow and Sevilla in the Champions League and now draw against Burnley, Newcastle United and lose at Manchester City in the last seven, Klopp believes scoring goals will solve the problem.

“There are different ways to get one win in seven. You can play really bad and lose most games or you can play more than a few games really, really good,” Klopp said. “Most of the games we were the better side. But a few chances are enough for the opponent to score and we need a lot more. That happens too often the last few weeks but the only alternative for us is to carry on.”

When they carry on after the international break they face Manchester United at Anfield on Oct. 14 with the Red Devils flying high along with Manchester City as they have 19 points from their opening seven games and are seven points ahead of Liverpool.

“Now it is the international break and the boys will go away and we all feel not perfect at the moment. The main problem is that football is not fair but people like you write things about it and boys read it. That makes it even worse,” Klopp said. “You feel you have a point but you feel like you lost. I hope they all come back healthy and we go again. In the next game we will probably have different problems to a game like today. It is against United, full of confidence and stuff like this. We force ourselves into quite good shape and a good situation. It is really difficult.”

Klopp continued to defend his Liverpool side, saying they made “one real mistake” in the draw and believes they’ve had their tough patch of the season.

He still believes Liverpool are genuine title contenders.

“We have obviously had our hard moment. Other teams will have hard moments. It is really rare a season is going like this [makes a whooshing sound] so we need to work on our team. I really think it looks like we are not far away from a real challenger,” Klopp said. “If we do what we are good at it, and we score more goals we will win games and we don’t have to think about other teams. We will close the gap, how big it is, and we will see where we are at the end.”