The manager accused of having no ‘Plan B’ has insisted Liverpool will most definitely have one as they attempt to nail a Champions League place.
Jurgen Klopp knows his side are often accused of being too dogmatic in their total commitment to his high pressing, high octane style of play.
But with Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson all absent on the run in, the Reds boss shocked everyone when he insisted his team must adapt their style to ensure they can ‘win ugly’ in the final eight games that will decide their top four fate.
Klopp still doesn’t yet know if Mane is out for the season after picking up a knee injury in the derby, but after admitting it is “possible”, the German coach insisted his side must change their approach without him.
“If we miss two or three offensive options, we have to adapt to it – we cannot try to do all the same,” Klopp said.
“The line-up we will choose, we have to use this session today, to make them as strong, as compact and as ugly to play as possible, and then go.
“We should think about how we can defend, not how dominant we can be. Maybe we can surprise one of the other teams with good organisation, good defending, good counter-attacks. Why not? We only have to adapt, and that’s the thing we have to do today.”
In particular, Liverpool have been branded a side ‘weak’ at set pieces, and as they prepare to face a Bournemouth side who exploited that to pull off a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Reds earlier in the season.
And with away trips to West Brom, Stoke, Watford and West Ham still to come, Klopp knows his side will be bombarded, and without 13 goal Mane the job becomes even harder.
In January when he was absent at the Africa Cup of Nations Liverpool won just once in seven games…but the manager is confident he will find an answer to get his side into the top four.
“My job is to find solutions. The big problem was in January was not only Sadio missing – everyone would miss Sadio. Southampton probably still miss him, Red Bull Salzburg miss him,” he added.
“It was such a hard moment in January. We had these games, it was not the freshest moment of the season. Then missing Sadio in the shape he was, plus missing Phil, was not perfect.
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Klopp reacts to Sadio Mane injury following Merseyside derby
“But it is not about thinking ‘How can we play perfect football’ we need to get results and the first thing I will think about is how we can defend (against) Bournemouth not how can we create 27 chances?
“If we are strong and perfectly organised in defence then Bournemouth cannot get confidence in the game. We don’t think what we miss, we only think what we can do to win this football game.”
Daniel Sturridge is back in training but is unlikely to figure, but Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip should be fit.