22 September 2023

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: Too soon to herald return of my mentality monsters

22 September 2023

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists it is too soon to say his “mentality monsters” have returned but he has been impressed by how they have handled adversity so far this season.

The 3-1 Europa League victory over LASK in Austria was the fourth time in six matches this season the team have bounced back from going behind.

However, despite the early setbacks they have yet to concede a goal after the 37th minute and strong second-half performances have seen them turn things around against Bournemouth, Newcastle, Wolves and now the team from Linz.

That has been achieved against the backdrop of introducing an all-new midfield but he is not yet ready to repurpose the tag he bestowed on the side who won the Champions League and Premier League in back-to-back seasons.

“I understand why you are asking me this. It was not long ago I was being asked about us being 1-0 down, 1-0 down, 1-0 down,” he said.

“I understand that this may come up again some time, but this feels completely different.

“When I said that phrase (mentality monsters) at that time, it was not that I planned that way. I just remember watching a game and thinking, ‘oh my God, how did they come back?’.”

“Now it is just that we have changed a few things and turned games around. Staying in a game is a duty and we did that so far which is why we have turned situations.

“Mentality? That is something we will create. What we have now is a mood. This is a spirit we have created because the boys really like playing with each other.

“It is a close group. It is early, that is obvious, and we made 11 changes (against LASK) and when you saw the spirit of the boys at the start it was not like we are on holiday.

“If you saw the dressing room there was a real competitive mood there. I liked that a lot. Again, the boys who came on enjoyed the minutes they got.

“Something is growing but I have no clue how it will go.”

The fact Klopp was able to change the entire team from Saturday’s win at Wolves and still win fairly comfortably is an indication of not only the depth but also the quality he has at his disposal.

It was far from a weakened European team, however, with first-choice centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate at the back and almost £100million-worth of attacking talent in Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz up front.

But the major difference was being able to bring summer signings, and two of his new revamped midfield, Dominik Szobozslai and World Cup-winner Alexis Mac Allister plus Mohamed Salah off the bench for the last half hour to see out the game and avoid any late drama.

It means those key players will be fresh for Sunday’s visit of West Ham as they look to make it five successive Premier League wins.

“I made 11 changes. I don’t know what you thought, but maybe some thought it was too much,” added Klopp.

“Everyone deserved to play for what they have shown in pre-season and training. I wanted a team that did not think for one second about Sunday who would go into it and enjoy it.

“Will I do this in every (European) game? Probably not. But we can mix it in a different way.

“For a squad still without Thiago (Alcantara), no Trent (Alexander-Arnold) and no Conor Bradley we can still change 11 times.

“If we have luck – and by luck I mean everyone stays healthy – and we have 23 players like this at this level we can react in all the games we have and we’ll always have a really good team on the pitch. I like that a lot.”

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