Jürgen Klopp has reassured Liverpool fans there is no chance of him turning up at Bayern Munich in the immediate future, though he did admit Franz Beckenbauer’s comments following the Champions League victory in the Allianz Arena felt comparable to being knighted.
Beckenbauer is Der Kaiser rather than the king, though when he speaks everyone in Germany listens, and after Liverpool had knocked out Bayern he let it be known that he thought the former Borussia Dortmund manager would be a very good fit for his club because of his penchant for quick, attacking football. “There is no bigger legend in Germany than Franz Beckenbauer, it feels great he speaks positively about me,” Klopp said. “It is just like the king with his sword calling a man ‘sir’.
“If he thinks that, it is a compliment to Liverpool. Bayern have done everything right in the last 10 or 15 years without making many mistakes but I feel I am a good fit where I am. I love it here, there are lots of opportunities to develop an already really good team. I have enough confidence to say I am the right manager for Liverpool at the moment, though in football we all constantly have to prove ourselves.
“So far it has worked out and hopefully it will last a lot longer. That would be cool, because I hope that in 50 or 60 years I can be remembered without referring to managing many different clubs. I am happy with the clubs I have had.”
Liverpool can go back to the top of the league with a win at Fulham on Sunday afternoon, which would complete a week that featured a satisfying performance and a favourable draw in the Champions League quarter-finals. Porto should not be underestimated – Klopp makes it his business to ensure his players do not underestimate anyone – but they appear the least dangerous last-eight opponents and Liverpool won 5-0 at the Estádio do Dragão en route to last season’s final.
Sadio Mané scored a hat-trick in that game and the striker is back to his top form with four goals in his past couple of games, including the exquisite finish that surprised Manuel Neuer and his defence in Munich. “It’s good that we’ve split the goals a little bit,” Klopp said, putting a positive slant on the fact the unstoppable Mohamed Salah of last season has gone six games without scoring. “Everyone criticised Neuer for the first goal but it was world class from Sadio.”
Klopp feels happy about his side’s progress up to now, even if they are not quite hitting the heights that saw them topple Manchester City in the last eight of the Champions League a year ago. City have the advantage in the Premier League and Klopp is aware that dropping any points at all between now and the end of the season would probably put the title out of reach for another year but he feels Liverpool are rising to a different challenge to the one posed last term. Opponents are more aware of the ability of the front three and are setting up more defensively in order to neutralise them. “Teams are showing us more respect and we have to get used to it,” Klopp said. “There’s nothing good without something bad but we have adapted well. We are much more calm in difficult situations but still creative.
“How Bayern played at Anfield when they came here was obviously a big sign of respect and the same is true of Manchester City. The better you get the more respect you get, that’s how a team develops, but we respect all the other teams as well, including Fulham.”
It has probably occurred to Fulham supporters that Liverpool’s illustrious attack might run riot against the team with the worst defensive record in the league but Klopp does not intend to take anything for granted. “Fulham have their own problems and reasons for wanting the points,” he said. “We just have to concentrate, and try to win the game without thinking of the end of the season, the Champions League or the international break. If we can forget about all that and simply focus on winning the next game then we’ll be fine. We all feel we have a big opportunity. We have improved a lot and developed a lot but we know we haven’t won anything yet.”