Jurgen Klopp didn’t sugarcoat this performance, nor did he deny both sides — and the pitch — were a bit sloppy.
Liverpool’s boss said his men’s 1-0 win over Ajax was “not sunshine football” but did like a lot of what he saw in the first match since the long-term injury suffered by star defender Virgil van Dijk.
Klopp installed Fabinho at center back next to Joe Gomez and the ex-Monaco man was very good.
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The German manager liked Rhys Williams’ introduction to the UCL after the longtime academy player went on loan to National League side Kidderminster Harriers last season.
And he loved Fabinho’s Man of the Match performance that included a goal line clearance with the Brazilian’s back to the field.
“That’s a good example of how the boys did today,” Klopp said. “It was not perfect but they fought brilliantly. I really liked the fresh legs up front. … Rhys Williams played non-league football last year and now he has some Champions League football so what a moment for him. Some nice stories, three points. … Xherdan Shaqiri was lively and Takumi Minamino was unbelievable. He is like a machine. It helps when you can make five changes.”
And it wouldn’t be 2020 Jurgen Klopp without a thinly-veiled complaint/reason for things not going entirely as planned.
“I think both teams could play better football. At moments it was wild. The pitch was deep and muddy. Three days ago it looked completely different and in training yesterday it looked different.”
Surely not the first time Klopp went away from home with his attack-minded club and found an inferior opponent tried to slow the game down as much as possible.
The Reds host Sheffield United on Saturday before a UCL visit from Midtjylland on Tuesday.