James Milner: Jurgen Klopp can be Kop king at Liverpool

Swansea City 1 Liverpool 2

James Milner: Jurgen Klopp can be Kop king at Liverpool

Instead of looking ahead to England’s World Cup qualifiers, Milner is concentrating on getting ready to face Jose Mourinho’s side at Anfield a fortnight tonight, concerned only about the fitness of colleagues turning out for their countries in the international break.

“We’ve got a big game when we come back and hopefully everyone will return from international duty fully fit,” Milner said.

“It was important to maintain our momentum and that’s why the Swansea game was massive, going into the international break having put a run together.

“Signing off with a draw or defeat would have been disappointing because it would have halted that momentum but the best thing is that we can only get better.

“There’s a long way to go in the title race and it’s early stages but we know we can beat anyone on our day and we’ve got to keep that going.

“We were really poor in the first half. But there are plenty of positives and we’re happy with the way things are going, especially as we know there are still things we can improve on.”

Milner puts his optimism down to the youthful nature of the first-team squad at Anfield and it also explains why he does not intend to resurrect an international career that yielded 60 England caps.

“I’m only 30 and pretty much one of the oldest which is disappointing for me but pleasing when you look at how youthful our squad is and the room for improvement,” Milner said.

And he reaffirmed a decision, made two months ago during talks with then England manager Sam Allardyce, to focus on club rather than country.

“I made the decision at the time and it’s best for everyone,” he said. “I’m playing left-back and there are a number of very good left-backs who’d be ahead of me.

“It’s still the right decision. It’s obviously disappointing what’s happened and massively disappointing for Sam because he was doing a very good job.

“But Gareth Southgate has done a great job with the Under-21s and I’m sure he will step in and the players will have a lot of respect for him and will hopefully qualify.”

One key factor in Milner’s thinking has to be Jurgen Klopp who has been an invigorating influence on the Leeds-born player.

Milner, whose fourth successful penalty this season clinched victory late on after Roberto Firmino cancelled out Leroy Fer’s opener, has been around the block a fair few times but admits he has seen nothing like the German.

“I’ve probably worked under too many managers but he’s definitely one of the best I’ve worked with,” Milner continued.

“His organisation, the sessions he does are different to anything else I’ve ever experienced and his passion can only be a good thing.

“He really is a top manager. He’s proved that before and hopefully we can be very successful with him.”

Klopp’s heart-on-his-sleeve touchline antics are what outsiders see but Milner suggested there is a lot more to the German than meets the eye.

“Sometimes when he is bouncing on the touchline because of his enthusiasm, the only other thing you could say is that he’s maybe too emotional,” Milner said.

“That’s something he could easily have been at half-time here with the performance we’d put in and how angry and emotional he gets but he held it in just enough.

“We knew he was angry. You could tell, but he put his words across well.

“Last year we’d show spells where we didn’t play the way we want to play and it would be a completely different looking side.

“This season the first half today was the only 45 minutes where it hasn’t looked like our team.

“But the manager got the reaction we needed to win and deserves big credit for that.”

Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski played down the speculation over manager Francesco Guidolin’s future as relegation fears mount at the Liberty Stadium.

“I can only respond for myself but I just focus on my job, trying to do my best for the club,” Fabianski said.

“We played well which is why it is a tough time for us. I don’t know what the problem is because the lads are trying their best.

“If we stay positive we can turn it around.”

SWANSEA (4-4-1-1): Fabianski 6; Rangel 4, Van der Hoorn 6, Amat 6, Naughton 6; Routledge 6 (Barrow 62, 6), Fer 6 (Fulton 72, 6), Cork 6, Britton 5 (Ki Sung-yeung 63, 5); Sigurdsson 6; Borja 5.

Subs not used: Nordfeldt, Taylor, Mawson, McBurnie.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Karius 6; Clyne 6, Matip 6, Lovren 6, Milner 7; Lallana 5 (Sturridge 23, 5), Henderson 6, Wijnaldum 5 (Can 85); Mane 8, Firmino 7 (Origi 85), Coutinho 6.

Subs not used: Mignolet, Klavan, Lucas, Moreno.

Referee: Michael Oliver 8

Here's a little extra sport. BallTalk TV look at Liverpool's chances of success this season.

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