Jurgen Klopp has hit back at pundit Gary Neville after the former Manchester United defender suggested Liverpool should abandon the Champions League to boost their Premier League title hopes.
Neville this week said the Reds’ best chance of ending a 29-year wait to be English champions would be enhanced if they “kicked into touch” their European ambitions.
Klopp found the suggestion from the 43-year-old, who having had a spell as England assistant coach was sacked after three months as Valencia boss, laughable.
“How should that work? What do we do? We don’t play Champions League or what?” said the German, whose side currently top the table with a 100 per cent record after four matches and are widely seen as the main challengers to defending champions Manchester City.
“Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that would work. You bring your kids in the Champions League? That would be funny!
“I don’t want to be too critical because I don’t know exactly how he said it but sitting in an office and talking about football is completely different to doing the job, to be honest.
“What did he say about Manchester United in that case? The club he’s more interested in. Nothing?
“I don’t know exactly what it means but to focus on one competition can only be if maybe you are already out of the competition nearly.
“If it’s late in the season that you see you have a chance to do that or do this and all that stuff.
“Last year, for example, we had no chance to focus on one competition because we had to qualify for the Champions League and I don’t think that even Gary Neville would have said: ‘Quarter-finals of the Champions League, let City win’.”
Liverpool head to Tottenham on Saturday for their first real big test of the season.
It is the start of a packed schedule of seven matches – including Champions League matches against Paris St Germain and Napoli – in 23 days.
Hoping for more of this on Saturday! 😎September 13, 2018
That means Klopp, who has so far made just one change to his starting line-up, will have to utilise his squad and that is likely to see a debut for summer signing Fabinho.
The £43.7million summer arrival has not featured in the matchday squad since being an unused substitute on the opening day of the campaign as he has been given time to adjust to Klopp’s training methods.
“Actually I don’t like to compare players but we had similar players and questions about Robbo (Andrew Robertson) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain,” he said.
“The thing is it is absolutely no problem. I don’t like the situation. Fabinho is full of desire and wants to be involved and I have to tell him ‘You’re not involved this week’ and that’s not nice.
Klopp on squad rotation: "We go to the next game and see. We have to make the best of what we've got. You always try to have your best team. Of course, we have to rotate. We need to be ready." pic.twitter.com/2tQgJwQQIH— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 14, 2018
“It is only the job to do sometimes because we have players that work together that much longer.
“He comes from another league, a completely different system which Monaco played, and we have a good team together so that takes time.
“The plan was – and is still – he will make us better and that is what we are working on.
“Sometimes it takes more time, sometimes a bit less but from my point of view it is all fine but I know the situation is not like a few people would have expected.”
- Press Association