Jurgen Klopp has defended the depth of his Liverpool squad amid criticism of the club’s performance against Aston Villa last weekend, while also discussing the ‘challenge’ of strengthening his squad this summer.
The newly crowned champions made several changes before labouring to a 2-0 victory over the struggling side on Sunday, with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi particularly poor at Anfield.
Klopp has now hit back at criticism of his players and says he has full faith in the options within his squad, insisting his back-up players are often tasked with making an impression in difficult circumstances and amid a lack of ‘rhythm’.
“You can be critical and you will be critical in future. It is not so nice in life but it is normal people forget,” the Liverpool boss said at his pre-match press conference.
“We played against Barcelona, for example, with a lot of changes and played an outstanding game. One of the best games for this team ever. Whatever your first XI is, and I have an idea, these [other] boys did the job. On a day against Aston Villa when the team is not performing at the highest level, when the pitch is dry like the Sahara and the wind is blowing like mad like you are on a ship out there on the sea, it is really difficult to make an impression.
“So, if you have a lack of rhythm, or are changing positions, that is how it is. Now we talk about these players not making enough pressure on the first XI? Or they are not close enough?
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“Oxlade-Chamberlain, if he is not in your first XI, he has played incredible games for this club. He won the game almost alone against [Manchester] City a year or two ago. He is not the worst footballer since then. It is not easy. I cannot judge people on a game in which the whole team is not performing great. I see them in training and I know they are more than options for me, and that is really good.”
Klopp once again suggested that Liverpool’s summer activity will be limited given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, admitting it is a ‘difficult time’ to strengthen and urging his side to put internal ‘pressure’ on one another to improve as they bid to defend the title next season.
“Are players out there on the market who could help us as well? Probably, yes,” said Klopp.
“This is a challenge to us to improve a really good football team. But time is a challenge as well. Nobody knows what the future will hold for all of us, so how can we make decisions, really expensive decisions, about how we deal with it? This team is how it is. It does not mean we do not want to strengthen it if we have the opportunity or if we have the financial resources. It will always happen. We will always try. But at the moment it is a difficult time and this team make pressure on each other, by itself, internally in training the quality is high.
“This is a difficult year for all football clubs in the world and it is not a time when we talk about transfers as if the rest around us has not happened. It is not possible. At least, not for us. We cannot do it like this. Other clubs maybe can, but this club is led in a specific way. This is our way and here we are. Is it the best way? I do not know, but we will stick to it.”