- Liverpool manager retains faith despite Watford loss
- James Milner set to return for FA Cup tie against Chelsea
Andy Hunter – The Guardian
Jürgen Klopp expects Liverpool to show their character in the FA Cup tie against Chelsea after the surprise loss to Watford. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
Jürgen Klopp has said he would have to be a “real idiot” to question the character of his Liverpool team after one bad defeat, but immediate improvement on the Watford performance will be essential to overcome Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Liverpool lost their unbeaten Premier League run in startling fashion at Vicarage Road on Saturday and head to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday looking to avoid a third consecutive away defeat in all competitions. Klopp, expected to make several changes for his first FA Cup fifth-round tie, believes no Liverpool player performed at their usual level at Watford. But he insists faith in a team who remain on course to win the Premier League title in record time is unbroken. “I am not a little bit in doubt about the character of the boys and I would be a real idiot if I would be because they deserve my trust, my faith, and they don’t lose it after a bad game,” he said.
Klopp analysed the Watford game when he returned home on Saturday night before hosting a regular team meeting at Melwood on Sunday. “It can happen that I get angry but I didn’t get angry with the players in this meeting,” he said. “If I go in that meeting and shout at them like they have lost the last 10 games because of a bad attitude that would be really strange. I am not interested that after the meeting I feel better. I am interested in the boys getting the right information.
“The situation we are in is special. Who can give us advice? Could I say that is the way we have to deal with it because I was there 20 times before and we dealt with it like this and it always worked out? No. I was never in a situation like that. We came through an incredible long period with incredible performances, sensational football, wonderful goals and great success until this point.
“There is a reason for losing a game and I prefer seeing the reason than not knowing why. It was not that the fortunes changed or that destiny wanted to give us a knock. We were just not good enough. That is the easy answer and that is filled with a lot of information that the boys get but not too much because we don’t want to think about that game for too long.”
Klopp has James Milner back from injury for the FA Cup tie but Jordan Henderson and Naby Keïta remain sidelined by hamstring and hip problems respectively. He said there can be no repeat of the Watford performance against Chelsea.
“This is an exceptional group of players,” he said. “They did outstanding stuff – but not that night. For the next game we need to improve immediately or else we will get punished.
“If they respond they have to show tomorrow night but we play against Chelsea. Should I think that just because we want to respond that we shoot Chelsea out of their own stadium? No. It will be a tough game.”
Curtis Jones, Pedro Chirivella and Neco Williams have played every minute of Liverpool’s FA Cup campaign this season and though Klopp is likely to deploy a mix of youth and experience at Stamford Bridge, he insists his desire to win the competition cannot be questioned.
“We cannot fight more for the cup competitions than we do already,” he said. “One cup competition that we proved we take really seriously in the last couple of years is the Champions League. The FA Cup? It’s nothing to do with us not wanting to go to the final. It was just because of draws or performances. Team selections were always reasonable, there was always a good reason for it. We will play Chelsea with all we have. Then Bournemouth with all we have. Then Madrid with all we have. Then Everton, then Crystal Palace or FA Cup, right? It will be with all we have.”