BANGKOK, Thailand — It’s been the shortest summer for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. Just 45 days after losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid in Paris, the team that came so close to an unprecedented quadruple win last season were in a friendly against Premier League rivals Manchester United in Bangkok on Tuesday back in action.
Liverpool’s 4-0 defeat by United at the Rajamangala Stadium – Erik ten Hag’s first game in charge of the Old Trafford team – is unlikely to provide a reliable indication of either side’s prospects for the 2022-23 season. After all, the preseason is the time to prepare for the coming year, to settle in new players and to learn how to cope without the leavers. ESPN caught up with Klopp in an exclusive interview during Liverpool’s two-day stay in the Thai capital at the club’s base at the St Regis Hotel to discuss the issues facing the 55-year-old manager and his players.
Mohamed Salah has pledged his long-term future to the club by signing a new three-year deal, while Darwin Nunez became Liverpool’s record-breaking transfer from Benfica, which could be worth up to £85million. But there is also the challenge of overtaking last season’s champions Manchester City in the Premier League and recovering from defeat by LaLiga champions in Europe.
Sounding relaxed and upbeat after a brief summer break, Klopp told ESPN that he is planning for the present and the future after lifting two out of a possible four trophies last season. The former Borussia Dortmund boss, who signed a new contract until 2026 earlier this year, also spoke about his vision for Liverpool after he leaves the club.
But with the new season due to start in less than four weeks – and with a World Cup between November 21 and December 18 – Klopp says the coming season will always be challenging on the pitch as several teams are ready fight for honor
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.
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ESPN: How do you reflect on last season when you came so close to winning four trophies but missed out on the Premier League and Champions League?
Klopp: I’m obviously very positive about the season and the things we’ve done. If you’re that close, it would have been nice [to win everything]but it doesn’t hurt anymore
It hurt at the moment, that’s for sure, when we fell a little short in the league and lost the Champions League final the next day, but to be honest [when Liverpool had a homecoming parade] showed us everything we needed to know, the people of course. That’s what we do: We do it for the people, and they obviously really appreciate what we’ve done over the year. It’s been a spectacular season with insane amount of points, insane amount of games and all those things, so those are really very positive recaps.
We knew that if we had won both competitions we would have had to improve and change here and there. You can’t keep doing the same thing and hope to get a better result – you have to improve on the details and we would have done that if we had won, so of course everything is fine now and we’re here, recharged and ready to go again .
ESPN: Sadio Mane has left Liverpool for Bayern Munich, but you have signed Darwin Nunez after signing Luis Diaz back in January. Do we see the development of your squad for the years to come?
Klopp: It is necessary. Not only did we lose Sadio, we also lost Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino from the squad last year. Some other players might go too, but we brought in Luis in the winter, now Darwin, Fabio [Carvalho] and Calvin [Ramsay]. It’s really exciting because the guys are fresh and excited – big eyes – to be with us, so it just changes the dynamic in the group and it’s really necessary.
I’m in my seventh season now and it’s important that we don’t do the same thing over and over again. We have to push ourselves to the next level and for that you always need new input and we got it.
Mark Ogden says Mohamed Salah’s signing by 2025 can only be good news for Liverpool.
ESPN: Salah ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract. So how important was it to the team that he decided to stay?
Klopp: Very important of course. It’s always like this. If it hadn’t happened we would have had to deal with it, but I knew early on that Mo’s wish was to stay and the club wanted him to stay. Then it’s just negotiations.
When you do that in other areas of the business out there, nobody is aware of it. You only realize that when they are still together. But in football we all do it in public and so it felt a bit nervous for people, but it never was for us.
It was a very important signing for us. I always see it like this: if we had to sign him from another club now, wow, what kind of player would we get. But now we still have him here and that’s absolutely great. You see him here now and he’s really looking forward to his future with us, so yes, great news.
ESPN: You have also pledged your long-term future to Liverpool by signing a four-year deal in April that will take you to 11 years at Anfield.
Klopp: [Laughs] We’re sorry!
ESPN: But after winning everything as a Liverpool manager, including the Premier League and Champions League, are you now looking ahead and thinking about what you want your managerial legacy to be? What do you want or need to do before you leave Liverpool?
Klopp: Not really. It’s not like I’m looking back and thinking back to my time in Mainz: it’s a nice memory that we went to the Bundesliga and won the league and cup twice with Dortmund. That’s all nice, but it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when I think about my time at Mainz or Dortmund, and it won’t be when I think about Liverpool.
My goal is of course to win as much as possible, but if you leave you have to leave the club in the best possible situation. I think that’s really important. It just leaves a real legacy because when you squeeze everything out of a club and leave someone has to clean the trash or whatever. It shouldn’t be like that. The club should be in as healthy a position as possible and have a squad ready to move on to the next chapter.
But that’s in the future. At the moment I’m very happy with the circumstances we have and the squad we’ve put together.
In terms of age, it’s really interesting now, we can really mix things up. We have quality from the youth side, very experienced players and all those things in that mix. But everyone is filled with determination and a desire to take the next step and win more, and that’s the most important thing. What I’m saying is that everything we do is based on the past but ready for the present and preparing for the future. We have to do it all at once and I think we’re in a good position.
Jurgen Klopp opens up on UEFA’s investigation into the scenes leading up to the Champions League final.
ESPN: In those four years until the end of your current contract, do you expect it to simply be a case of Liverpool vs. Manchester City for the honor? They both seem so far ahead.
Klopp: We are not that far yet. That’s always a misunderstanding of last season’s points balance.
We played against Chelsea – I don’t know how many more points we had, I really don’t know – but we played them four times and didn’t win a single game against them. It’s not because we were bad that day – no, we were really good in those games – but every time over 90 minutes before penalties [in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals]we never won so Chelsea are incredibly strong.
You have to look at Tottenham and what they are doing at the moment. They haven’t gotten any worse this year. Arsenal are still there, Man United with a fresh start, all those things.
It’s always the same and we’ve changed a bit – not too much, but a little. The city may have changed even more, I don’t know, but we’ll see in the next few weeks. But that’s how it is. The basis has to be right, and it’s right for us, and we can start from there. I’m not interested in the points we had last year, I’m just interested in what we can get this season, but I’m positive, really optimistic, but I’m not sure, so we have to fight and see what the result is.
ESPN: What impact will the World Cup have on the upcoming season? Do you expect uncertainty?
Klopp: In all parts it is strange, at home and abroad. In Germany they stop playing and start again at the end of January. We start again on Boxing Day. That means [the World Cup] affects the Champions League if you’re still there. I haven’t planned that far yet but it’s clear that it’s a huge challenge and we need to prepare as best we can here for the near future until November.
We have a large group [of players] go to the World Cup, but thank God they can’t all go to the final. A lot of them can go to the semifinals, which are the same length as the tournament, so it’s going to be tough. And then, a week later, the boys have to play again.
It’s really, really hard but that’s the situation and it’s the same for all of us and that’s the only good thing about it.
In Europe, I don’t know, but in Germany it’s an extremely long break and that’s also a challenge – catching up and finding your rhythm, but at least the ones at the World Cup have a long enough break. Again, our players – surprise – don’t really have a break, but everyone expects to be back performing a week after maybe winning the World Cup.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/liverpool-engliverpool/story/4699106/liverpools-jurgen-klopp-talks-to-espn-about-legacystaying-on-topsalah-and-more Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp talks to ESPN about legacy, staying on top, Salah and more