Liverpool must continue to improve but our defending will never be praised, says Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp believes his side's defensive improvement will never be acknowledged because of their history with mistakes and conceding avoidable goals, though admits they must still continue to improve further.

Liverpool must continue to improve but our defending will never be praised, says Jürgen Klopp
(Picture: Getty Images - John Powell)

Jürgen Klopp believes it impossible that his Liverpool side's defensive improvement will ever be acknowledged because of previous errors but insists they still must continue to work on their counter-pressing.

The Reds travel to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to face a Mauricio Pochettino side with one of the most reliable rearguards in Europe, not just the Premier League.

But the Merseyside outfit have earned back-to-back clean sheets after a goalless draw with title hopefuls Manchester United and a 7-0 thrashing of Maribor in the Champions League.

Yet Klopp believes because of the reputation of his side's back-line as inconsistent and error-prone, that any improved spell will only ever be cast off as temporary. 

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"Reds defence can never be praised"

"That will never happen in Liverpool," Klopp told the press. "After two years I can say it will never happen. Because we concede one goal and it's always one player who then is not good enough or whatever. That for me makes no sense but it's like it is."

Analysing the goals that Liverpool have conceded in the league this season, Klopp declared that the "three on the first match-day" away at Watford was "so long ago" he "can't really remember it."

He added that they also conceded five of the 12 Premier League goals they have leaked in one game away at Manchester City, and with 10 men, a game for which he believes the defence cannot be blamed. 

He added: "We know we have to improve. We've improved in the last two games, I said that after Maribor and already after United. We were much better and much smarter in our protection, protecting our own offensive situations."

Yet the German noted that it "will be a different game" against Tottenham which means they "don't have to talk too much" about recent performances to compare to Spurs.

But he continued that in their last two, "the most important thing was to avoid counter-attacks" which he felt Liverpool "did that pretty well as a team."

"I said it at Maribor, we scored seven goals but the best thing was our counter-pressing. It was outstanding," Klopp effused. "That will help in each game, it's always easier for the last line so that's what we have to do in the next games too."

Klopp: Liverpool's counter-pressing saves energy

Klopp - a manager not afraid to show his exasperation at the media's line of questioning from time to time - also questioned the attitude of the press towards Liverpool's recent form.

He insisted that having been frequently asked what his team need to do right, that they simply need to carry on playing as they have in order to put together a positive streak of results.

The 50-year-old said: "After all the things we've done when we've analysed the last few games and you saw the good things we did even though it didn't lead to the result we wanted, you [the press] then ask me "What can you do to score?" and stuff like this. We cannot change the situations we had, we can only have more and make it easier."

He explained that "it can be easier" if Liverpool "win the ball back in more situations" than they have in recent games by doing so earlier in their counter-pressing.

"It keeps you in a much better position in the pitch. It's kind of energy saving because you don't have to run long distance with the whole squad nearly," the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss added.

He reiterated that he was "very happy" with their counter-pressing in their win at Maribor and noted that while he is not "100 per-cent" they can reproduce such a display at Tottenham that he is "open for the proof."

Klopp said: "I really think that will be a big key against Tottenham, a fantastic football team and football-playing top team of the league. It would help a lot but we will see."

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Confidence alone is not enough

Asked about the confidence in the squad ahead of the clash, Klopp declared he doesn't need "to have a look" at his players to gauge their mood warned: "I know that it helps but it's not enough."

However, the Reds boss felt that confidence is "the only thing" that his team have "missed in the last few games", declaring it "always clear it can happen."

"It's not nice to be an opponent on the day that we really finish all the situations we create," Klopp said. "That was on this day Maribor."

He dismissed suggestions the result and performance was largely down to the inferior quality of the opponent and said that the Slovenian side "were much closer" in their previous European outing against Sevilla, "a top team from Spain."

Klopp said Maribor were "really good in defending" against Sevilla but that Liverpool were unstoppable in such form and "were not really to defend on that day." 

He added: "With all the things I've said before, we have to stay confident because of good reasons. It makes it easier but confidence alone is not enough to get a result at Tottenham. It's something what can help, of course."