Bangkok, Thailand – It was 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 very close to achieving an unprecedented quadruple last season returned to play in a friendly match against rivals Manchester United in the Premier League in Bangkok on Tuesday.
Liverpool’s 4-0 defeat to United at Rajamangala Stadium – Eric ten Hag in charge of Old Trafford – is unlikely to provide a reliable guide to either side’s prospects for the 2022-23 season. After all, pre-season is the time to prepare for next year, to acclimatize to new players and learn how to cope without those who have left. ESPN met Klopp for an exclusive interview during Liverpool’s two-day stay in the Thai capital, at the club’s St Regis hotel, to discuss the issues facing the 55-year-old and his players.
Mohamed Salah has committed to his long-term future for the club by signing a new three-year contract, while Darwin Nunez has become Liverpool’s record signing in a transfer from Benfica that could be worth up to £85m. But there is also the challenge of reforming last season’s Premier League champions Manchester City, as well as recovering from the loss to the European champions.
Looking relaxed and upbeat after a short summer break, Klopp told ESPN he was planning for the present and the future after winning two of four potential titles last season. The former Borussia Dortmund boss, who signed a new contract until 2026 earlier this year, also discussed his vision for Liverpool. after, after He leaves the club.
But with the new season starting in less than four weeks – and with the World Cup in the middle, from November 21 to December 18 – Klopp says next season will be an intermittent challenge. The stadium where several teams are ready to compete for prizes.
Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
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ESPN: How do you think about last season, after you came close to winning four titles, but lost the Premier League and the Champions League?
Club: I’m very optimistic about the season and the things we’ve done of course. When you’re this close, it’ll be great [to win everything]but it no longer hurts.
We were hurt at the moment, that’s clear, when we narrowly went ahead in the league and lost the Champions League final, but, frankly, the next day. [when Liverpool had a homecoming parade] Show us everything we need to know, obviously people. Here’s what we do: We do it for the people and they clearly appreciate what we’ve done over the year. It’s been a great season with an unbelievable number of points and an amount of matches and all that kind of stuff, so it’s really a very positive reflection.
We knew that if we won both competitions, we would still need to improve and change here and there. You can’t always do the same things and hope for a better result – you need to fine tune the details, which is what we would have done if we had won it, so now of course, it’s all good and we’re here, recharged and ready to go again.
ESPN: Sadio Mane left Liverpool for Bayern Munich, but you signed Darwin Nunez, having already added Luis Diaz in January. Are we witnessing the development of your team for the coming years?
Club: it is necessary. Not only did we lose Sadio, we also lost Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino from last year’s squad. Some other guys might leave too, but we brought in Lewis in the winter, and Darwin now, Fabio [Carvalho] and calvin [Ramsay]. It’s really exciting because the boys are energetic and full of excitement – big eyes – being together with us, so it just changes the dynamic in the group which is really necessary.
I’m now in my seventh season 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 that’s why we always need new inputs and that’s what we got.
Mark Ogden says that signing Mohamed Salah until 2025 can only be good news for Liverpool.
ESPN: Salah has ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract, so how important is the decision to stay for the team?
Club: Very important of course. always like this. If it didn’t happen we had to deal with that, but I knew early on that Mo’s wish was to stay and the club wanted him to stay. Then it’s just negotiations.
If you’ve done this in other parts of the business out there, no one is aware of it. You only realize the moment they are still together. But in football, we all do it in public and that’s why people get a little nervous, but for us it’s never been like that.
It was a very important signature for us. I always see it like this: if we had to sign him now from another club, wow, what a player we would get. But now we still have it here and that’s pretty cool. You see him here now and he’s perfectly happy with the future with us, so yes, great news.
ESPN: You’ve also committed to your long-term future with Liverpool by signing a four-year contract in April, which will take you to 11 years at Anfield.
Club: [Laughs] Sorry!
ESPN: But having won everything as a Liverpool coach, including the Premier League and the Champions League, do you now look forward and think about what you want your legacy as a coach to be? What do you want or need to do before you leave Liverpool?
Club: Not right. It’s not that I look back at Mainz’s time and think back: it’s a nice memory that we went to the Bundesliga and won the league twice with Dortmund and the cup. It’s all nice, but it’s not the first thing I think of when I think of my time in Mainz or Dortmund, and it wouldn’t be like that when I think of Liverpool.
My goal, or my goal, of course is to win as much as possible, but when you leave, you have to leave the club in the best possible condition. I think this is really important. It only makes a real legacy because if you squeeze everything out of the club and leave, someone has to clean up the trash or something. This is not how it should be. The club has to be in the best position possible and has to have a squad ready to go into the next chapter.
But this is in the future. For now, I’m really happy with the conditions we have and the squad we’ve built.
From an age standpoint, it’s now really interesting, we can really mix it up. We have quality on the young side, very experienced players and all these kinds of things in the mix. But they are all filled with determination and a desire to take the next step and win more and that’s what really counts. What I’m saying is that everything we do is based on the past, but to be prepared for the present and prepare for the future. We have to do all this at once, and I think we’re in a good place.
Jurgen Klopp talks about UEFA’s investigation into the scenes that erupted before the Champions League final.
ESPN: In those four years, right up until the end of your current contract, would you expect it to be just the case for Liverpool against Manchester City for honors? You both seem so far away
Club: We are not far ahead. This is always a misunderstanding of last season’s points tally.
We played against Chelsea – I don’t know how many points we got, I really don’t know – but we played it four times and we didn’t win a single game against them. Not because we were bad that day – no, we were really good in those matches – but more than 90 minutes at a time, before the penalties [in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals]We’ve never won, so Chelsea is incredibly strong.
You have to look at Spurs, and what they are doing at the moment. It didn’t get any worse this year. Arsenal is still there, Man United with a fresh start, all of those things.
It’s always the same and we’ve changed a little bit – not too much, but just a little bit. The city may have changed more, I don’t know, but we’ll see in the next few weeks. But that is the case. The foundation has to be right, it works for us and from there, we can go. I’m not interested in the points we got last year, I’m only interested in what we can get this season, but I’m positive, really optimistic, but I’m not sure, so we’ll have to fight and see what the outcome is.
ESPN: What impact will the World Cup have on next season? Do you expect to create uncertainty?
Club: It is strange in all respects, both domestically and internationally. In Germany, they stopped playing and then started again in late January. We start again on Boxing Day. this means [the World Cup] It has an impact in the Champions League if you are still at that time. I haven’t planned that far yet, but it’s obviously a huge challenge and what we have to do here is prepare as well as possible for the period ahead until November.
We have a large group [of players] Going to the World Cup, but thank God they can’t all go to the final. A lot of them could go to the semi-finals, which is the same length as the tournament, so it’s going to be tough. A week later, the boys have to play again.
It’s really hard, but it’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 a very long break and that’s a challenge as well – to pick up again and get the rhythm, but at least those who were in the World Cup get a long enough break. Our players again – surprise – don’t have a real break, but everyone expects them to perform again one week after they win the World Cup.