Published On: Fri, Sep 14th, 2018

Jurgen Klopp takes aim at Gary Neville after he suggested Liverpool should forget Champions League

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Jurgen Klopp has hit back after Gary Neville suggested that Liverpool should ignore the Champions League and focus on the Premier League, which he believes they have a realistic chance of winning. 

The Liverpool manager was taken aback by Neville’s comments and in response to the Sky Sports pundit said: ‘It’s a bit silly sitting in an office talking about football, it’s different to doing the job.’

Klopp, who led Liverpool to the Champions League final last year, also asked for Neville to come and explain to him how that would work and questioned whether he should play the youth team.

Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Gary Neville for 'silly' comments about Liverpool in Europe

Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Gary Neville for 'silly' comments about Liverpool in Europe

Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Gary Neville for ‘silly’ comments about Liverpool in Europe

Neville claimed that Liverpool should 'kick the Champions to touch' and focus on the league

Neville claimed that Liverpool should 'kick the Champions to touch' and focus on the league

Neville claimed that Liverpool should ‘kick the Champions to touch’ and focus on the league

‘How would that work? We don’t play Champions League or what?’ Klopp asked at his press conference ahead of the Tottenham match this Saturday.

‘Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that works. How do you prepare for a game when you don’t focus on it? I don’t understand, do we play our kids or what?

‘I don’t know what he means with that, to be honest. We have to play football. A lot of people watch our games when we play Champions League and that’s our job that we do the best we can do in all these games.

‘That’s what we try. I don’t know exactly what it means but to focus on one competition can only be if maybe you are already out of the competition nearly. If it’s late in the season that you see you have a chance to do that or do this and all that stuff.

Klopp asked Neville to explain how that would work and criticised him for 'talking in an office'

Klopp asked Neville to explain how that would work and criticised him for 'talking in an office'

Klopp asked Neville to explain how that would work and criticised him for ‘talking in an office’

‘Last year, for example, we had no chance to focus on one competition because we had to qualify for the Champions League and I don’t think that even Gary Neville would have said, ‘Quarter-finals of the Champions League, let City win’. 

‘I don’t want to be too critical as I don’t know exactly how he said it, but it’s a bit silly, sitting in an office talking about football, it’s different to doing the job.’

In an interview with The Times, Neville said he thought Liverpool could win the league if they were able to rest their star men week-on-week, something they particularly need due to their high pressing game.

‘The Champions League – if I was Liverpool, I would kick it into touch,’ Neville suggested.

‘I know that’s very hard to do but if they could go into February, March, April without it, I think they could have a real chance [of winning the league] if they had free weeks.’

Klopp also defended Dejan Lovren who had a nightmare match at Wembley last season

Klopp also defended Dejan Lovren who had a nightmare match at Wembley last season

Klopp also defended Dejan Lovren who had a nightmare match at Wembley last season

Klopp also backed Dejan Lovren, who is close to making a return for the Reds, to continue improving, and defended the centre-back after his nightmare game at Wembley last season.

During that clash, Liverpool lost 4-1 to Tottenham and Lovren was hauled off the pitch after just 31 minutes with him responsible for Spurs’ first two goals.

‘He has come closer to his potential. I was never in doubt about Dejan, but in the past what people would say about him was that his consistency was not at the highest level perhaps. It was very good and then not that good,’ Klopp explains.

‘In this perspective it was a very important game for him. He was not very good in that game but I could have changed five or six other players as well. 

Lovren (right) was substituted after just 31 minutes in that game as Liverpool lost 4-1

Lovren (right) was substituted after just 31 minutes in that game as Liverpool lost 4-1

Lovren (right) was substituted after just 31 minutes in that game as Liverpool lost 4-1

‘He didn’t like it obviously but it helped our relationship as well. It was one situation, and if I would judge a player because of 20 minutes in his life then I wouldn’t know any player. We all have our 20 minutes I would say.

‘He still has my 100 per cent support. There was not too much talk about these situations, it was only about what I think of him and how when he starts thinking the same about himself it would help him. My opinion of him is quite high, his opinion was rather average.

‘Unfortunately he is not fit at the moment, but it’s all good. He will be back I am sure in a very intense period, with seven games in three weeks.’

Klopp looks set to continue his defensive pairing of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk for the game against Tottenham on Saturday lunchtime.  

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