Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he is “full of energy” and does not need a break from football.
Klopp has had a difficult time in his private and professional life recently following the death of his mother Elisabeth, whose funeral he was unable to attend because of coronavirus restrictions in Germany, and Liverpool’s poor run of form in the Premier League.
There were rumours on social media over the weekend Klopp might resign after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Leicester, a result he believes ended the champions’ hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
Liverpool have now lost three consecutive league matches for the first time since November 2014 and are 13 points behind leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
Liverpool fans have shown their support in the form of a banner outside Anfield to remind Klopp he will never walk alone, and the 53-year-old responded by shutting down rumours he might leave the club.
“Did I get the sack or did I leave by myself? I don’t need a break,” he said. “The banner is nice but not necessary. I don’t feel I need special support at the moment.
“Look, the last thing I want to do is to talk about private things in a press conference, but everybody knows, privately, we had a tough time – that was not only over three weeks, it was for a much longer time and we always deal with it as a family.
“I’ve worked in football for 30 years and as a coach for 20 years. I can split things and switch off. I don’t carry things around. If I’m private, I’m private, if I’m football and in my workplace, then I’m here.
“Of course, we are influenced by things that happen around us but nobody has to worry about me. I might not look like this because the weather’s not cool, my beard gets more and more grey, I don’t sleep a lot, but I’m full of energy. The situation’s a challenge. I see it as an interesting challenge.”
Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool boss in 2015 and signed a contract extension until 2024 in December 2019, six months after winning the Champions League.
Liverpool’s first league title in 30 years soon followed but Klopp’s side now have 30 fewer points than they did at the same stage last season – the biggest drop by any reigning champions in top-flight history – following a run of two wins in their previous 10 Premier League games.
Klopp added: “We will solve this challenge by playing football and fighting with all we have. That’s the plan we have.
“A lot of people are obviously not happy with the results. I get that and I’m responsible for that, but we have still played some pretty good stuff. You (the media) can forget that, but we cannot because that’s the start of changing [our fortunes].
“It’s a massive challenge. I’m ready, the boys are ready and we’ll give absolutely everything to solve this. I’m very grateful for all the support, but nobody has to worry about me.”
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Klopp: Keita training but not ready
Liverpool face RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday. The match will be played in Budapest because of coronavirus restrictions in Germany.
Klopp will again be without several first-team players due to injury but midfielder Naby Keita – although not available to face his former club – has returned to training having been sidelined since December.
“Naby is no longer injured but he’s not fit yet,” Klopp said. “He was in training yesterday but it’s not sufficient yet. We will be away for two days and he will be in training; it’s better than flying with us. Of course, Naby would have liked to be there when it’s against Leipzig.
“He has had some very great spells but obviously you have to say he has had too many injuries as well, which hasn’t helped a lot, but he has played some really great games for us and scored important goals. He contributed to our success last year; he was always involved despite the injuries.
“These were unfortunate moments when you look at his injuries, it was just minor things that [ruled] him out from the team. But he has got an excellent perspective and is a great player.
“In terms of injuries, we all have to go through these difficulties and once that’s behind you, we’ll have another absolutely great player.”
Henderson laughs off dressing room fight rumours
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was quick to dismiss rumours on social media that defender Andrew Robertson and goalkeeper Alisson had been involved in a recent dressing room fight.
“I don’t think I need to comment about someone sitting behind a keyboard and making up rumours about the manager or the players in the dressing room,” Henderson said.
“It’s not true. I quite liked the one that Ali and Robbo had a fight! That made me chuckle a little bit, but I didn’t give it much thought.”
Nagelsmann: Liverpool no beaten-up boxer
Julian Nagelsmann is adamant his RB Leipzig side will not be treating Liverpool as a “beaten-up boxer”.
“My plans for the match haven’t changed because of where the game is taking place,” hesaid. “For me it makes absolutely no difference whether we are in our own stadium or elsewhere.
“We don’t want to give Liverpool any opportunity to play their game. We know about their quality.
“Even if their results in the Premier League haven’t lived up to expectations recently, you still always hear them named among the best teams in the league. We know that.
“I can’t tell my team that they are facing a beaten-up boxer, because that’s not what Liverpool are. They are strong in every area and always put their basic principles into practice well.”
Nagelsmann, whose side have won their past three games in the Bundesliga to move up to second behind leaders Bayern Munich, was described as an “extraordinary talent” by Klopp at his press conference.
Nagelsmann was similarly effusive in his praise of his fellow German, adding: “I obviously follow his career a bit. He’s taken over his clubs at difficult times and stabilised them little by little, making them successful.
“You always see and hear that he brings great spirit to the team; people who work with him still love to recall their time with him even years later. That will be the case for those at Liverpool too.
“He can motivate people and put people under his spell. I always try to keep developing as a coach and a part of that is thinking outside the box.”
Liverpool play RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday before hosting Merseyside rivals Everton in the Premier League on Saturday, live on Sky Sports from 5pm; kick-off 5.30pm.