Jurgen Klopp vows to make Steven Gerrard a top manager

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is determined to help Steven Gerrard become the best manager he can be.
Jurgen Klopp vows to make Steven Gerrard a top manager

The former Reds captain is to rejoin the club next month as an academy coach across all age groups, and Klopp will give him every assistance as the 36-year-old takes his first steps on the coaching ladder.

“We had a very good very long talk together,” Klopp said, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Southampton.

“Everyone in this room knows better than I do he is a wonderful guy and it was important to know what Steven wants and he said he wants to be a manager in the future. That’s cool.

“From my side I said everything I can do to help him on his way to be the best manager he can be, I am ready for this and I’d like to do it.

“Now he is at the academy it is good for us and for him it is perfect.

“Being a manager is a job you have to learn and when a person like Steven Gerrard and the player he was is ready to make the steps, that is wonderful news for football.

“Combining his playing experience with all the things he will learn from now on will be a bright future. It is brilliant.”

Gerrard’s input will solely be with the players of the club’s future but the current crop could do with some inspiration after a sluggish start to 2017.

Since beating Manchester City on New Year’s Eve, Klopp’s side have won just once — an FA Cup replay at Sky Bet League Two Plymouth — in six matches in all competitions.

They now face a pivotal week in their season with an EFL Cup semi-final second leg at home to Southampton, who lead 1-0, the FA Cup fourth-round visit of Sky Bet Championship club Wolves before Premier League leaders Chelsea arrive next Tuesday.

The visit of Antonio Conte’s men will be the culmination of 10 matches in 32 days but Klopp denies his squad, which has been depleted by injuries to Philippe Coutinho and Joel Matip and Sadio Mane’s absence at the African Nations Cup during that period, are suffering from fatigue.

“Intense is intense. There are a lot of things but of course it’s intense for every team,” he added. “We don’t sit back and look for excuses. What we need is to fight, that’s how it is.

“We have a lot of opportunities. We have an unbelievably big number of games.

“We are responsible for our situation, that’s what we feel. If somebody can change it, then we can do it.

“If we win from now on in each game everybody sits here and smiles, even if we cannot become champions because Chelsea win enough to do it. That’s how it is.

“Life is no guarantee, only a big opportunity. The football season is exactly the same — you don’t have guarantees. Everybody wants it.”

For his part, Southampton manager Claude Puel is sweating on the fitness of Virgil van Dijk ahead of the trip to Anfield.

The Saints are looking to reach their first major cup final since 2003, but they may have to do without the Dutchman who picked up an ankle knock during their 3-0 win over Leicester on Sunday.

Van Dijk’s injury took the gloss off Southampton’s impressive victory at St Mary’s, which marked the end of a torrid run of four straight defeats in the Premier League.

Despite the 25-year-old indicating on his Twitter account that the setback is not too serious, Puel is uncertain on whether the defender will travel with the team to Merseyside.

“It was a good kick (on his ankle),” Puel said. “He couldn’t continue the game yesterday, for example.

“It is not serious but I do not know if he can participate for this game. He is having a scan and I will wait for the results at the moment.”

Following Jose Fonte’s move to West Ham last week, Puel named Van Dijk as the new captain at St Mary’s.

The 55-year-old boss says the decision was easy to make, but dismissed the notion that the captaincy was an attempt to persuade the Holland international to stay at the club.

“Easy? Of course,” Puel added. “Jose left Southampton and Virgil will be the captain with Steven Davis.

“Captain to stay? No. It is natural when Jose did not play in the beginning of the season, Virgil, Steven or Maya Yoshida will be the captain.

“I think it is normal.”

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