Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is a self-confessed bad loser. And even though he didn’t drop all three points at Brighton on Saturday, it certainly felt like that, judging on the basis of his testy, if intriguing, post-match interview with BT Sport’s Des Kelly.
Klopp was frustrated by Brighton’s injury time equaliser, the fact that five subs is no longer permitted and the hectic schedule, which he feels is dictated by the demands of the Premier League’s television paymasters.
However interviewer Kelly wasn’t taking the rant lying down, as he showed in an intriguing eight-minute exchange.
Here’s an abridged transcript:
: “Jurgen, that’s a painful setback. We’re talking about VAR again, was it just, was it right, was it correct?”
J: “I think the situation is, the two offsides I didn’t see back but our analysts said yes, they were really close. With Mo I think it was a foot but we are used to armpits and club badges so, if it’s a toe, then it’s obviously offside and the other one with Sadio was clear I heard. The penalty, that’s how it is. I think the decisions were right, yes.”
: “You think the decisions were right, well Jordan Henderson said some of the Brighton players agreed that it wasn’t a penalty…"
: “Yes but the ref… Look, you try to create again, on my cost, again, a headline, you do. Because that’s how it is, if I say now it was not, but the ref whistled it. Don’t look like this, you try, always, all the time, but I say today it was a penalty. But you are not happy with that answer, so what do you want to hear? Give the answers to yourself.”
: “No, I was just telling you what your players said.”
: “Yes and the players were closer. I said it was a penalty because the ref whistled it after watching it.”
: “OK, so you agree with that decision then. In terms of the performance?”
: “Very good. Very good. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys and what they put out here today. You know what we said before the game, how good a possession team Brighton is usually, I couldn’t see that. The boys played like we had to play. The first half an hour we struggled a bit, a new last line, with their balls in behind because they didn’t drop in the right moment. We got that sorted in the first half, second half we had no problems with that any more but in the second half, of course, we had some problems with energy so we sat a little bit deeper. That’s how the situation happened but we had the situation around the goals we scored was brilliant. They were disallowed but the situations were brilliant. Mo’s goal was a brilliant goal, Sadio’s situation was outstanding, the goal we scored was really cool."
: “You warned us about (Aaron) Connolly before the match, you said he could cause some problems. He was getting in behind through the lines…”
: “Only two opportunities to defend that, you have to avoid the pass or you have to drop in the right moments because he’s running through the gaps so it’s quite difficult. We spoke before the game, the last line is not settled together, but that’s normal. You have, sometimes, to learn during the game, the boys did that, that was really good. Nat Phillips played an exceptional game, honestly, so that was all good. You need, in football, always, a little bit of luck to win a tough away game and today we didn’t have luck so it was a draw.”
: “Mo Salah didn’t look too happy to be coming off early, but I assume you’re planning ahead for that and what’s the information with James Milner?”
: “The problem is he had COVID, was out for 10-12 days, trained once, played 60 minutes, three days later, played again. We just have to be careful, he doesn’t like it I know but that’s it.”
: “And James Milner? Hamstring is it?”
: “Yes, congratulations. No [not personally] but you work for them [BT Sport]. Hamstring, surprise. And they had injuries as well. But ask Chris Wilder how we can avoid that."
KELLY: “Well maybe you’re firing at the wrong target. Because we are broadcasters, we work within the Premier League rules and the Premier League makes the rules, so that’s the Premier League clubs. So shouldn’t you be working with the Premier League clubs, talking to the Chief Executives?”
: “I don’t know how often I have to say it. You picked the 12:30 kick-off, you. Not you personally but you [BT] did it, didn’t you? Us on 12:30. Between now and December and New Year, there’s one more Wednesday and Saturday 12:30.”
: “Yes but when you say ‘you picked the 12:30’, the Premier League clubs chose that slot. There’s a reason that slot is there, it’s because it’s valuable for the Premier League.”
: “I said it a couple of times, these are difficult times. And we have to try. If we play at 3:00 or 5:30 it’s exactly the same, it’s Saturday.”
: “Then that’s different. Your chief executive should be going to the other chief executives and having that discussion. If you come down here and just have a go at the broadcaster, it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s not going to change anything.”
: “I’m not ‘having a go’ at the broadcaster, I’m saying how it is. After Wednesday [night games], Saturday 12:30 is really dangerous for the players."
: “You also said the broadcasters don’t care and that’s the problem, it isn’t the problem. The problem is the slot.”
: “Why did you pick us again against Crystal Palace if you care? You always rely on things we agreed in another time."
: “If it was all about player welfare, why did the Premier League clubs block the five substitutes?”
: “It’s very interesting now - when we had the talk between the managers a week ago. I think? It was 15-5 or 16-4 [in the votes] for five subs. Since then, nothing happened. You need at least 14 votes but Chris Wilder or whoever says constantly ‘I’m selfish’. I think all the things he says shows he’s selfish. But that’s not too important. I was in a similar situation to him when I worked at Mainz, when it was all about staying in the league. But he has now three subs and one point if I’m right. So there’s no advantage or disadvantage.
“If you can do five subs in a game like this it’s not for tactical reasons. For example, today five subs, I take off Robbo [Andy Robertson] 100 per cent and bring Kostas Tsimikas on. To save Robbo, not to make our game better or whatever, that’s the situation. It’s not about we change tactics and the system and bring five players at one time and all this kind of thing. It’s not like this, it’s just to save the players.
“Yes, of course I say my players, but it’s not only my players [who] have the problem. Here you will see from now until December and we’ll see what happens [with injuries]."
: “I actually agree with what you’re saying, but you’re going about it in a strange way. You’re attacking the broadcasters instead of getting the support you need in the Premier League meetings.”
: “I’m 100 per cent sure you can rephrase what I said because you stuck on it, great. What I want to say is I only go to the broadcasters with the Wednesday and 12:30. Only seven managers have a similar problem and they all agree. Jose [Mourinho] said now I should stop doing it, actually, I wanted to because it doesn’t help.
“But the problem is we signed a contract, our CEO or shareholders or whatever did that, it’s true. And in all seasons it’s a problem, but in this season it’s a bigger problem because of no pre-season, the intensity, the shorter season.
“And when we have that slot I say it’s not OK. And I get it again. Have a look again - I’m not selfish but I speak about Liverpool. Until this year’s over, in this part of the season we have this slot three times. Look who else had it three times, nobody. So of course it’s a problem for me - to pick a team, that’s my problem.”