Football

Fergie congratulates Klopp for winning Manager of the Year award

German named Manager of the Year for guiding Liverpool to their first top-flight title in 30 years

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said Liverpool's Juergen Klopp thoroughly deserved his success this season and was even willing to forgive the German for waking him up in the early hours of the morning to announce his league triumph.

Klopp was presented with the Alex Ferguson Trophy on Monday, after being named League Managers' Association (LMA) Manager of the Year for guiding the Merseyside club to their first top-flight title in 30 years.

Chris Wilder, last year's winner, settled for the runner-up spot after Sheffield United's impressive first season back in the English Premier League.

The league title was sealed when Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 on a Thursday night late last month, but Klopp clearly waited a few hours before getting in touch with the Scot.

"I will forgive you for waking me up in the morning at half-past three to tell me you won the league! Thank you," Ferguson said in a congratulatory video.

"You really thoroughly deserved it. The performance level of your team was fantastic. Your personality runs right through the whole club. It was a marvellous performance."

Former Borussia Dortmund boss Klopp said of Ferguson: "I know it's not 100 per cent appropriate as a Liverpool manager, but I admire him.

"I remember he was the first British manager I met. We had breakfast... I remember because for me it was like meeting the Pope. It was absolutely great... I didn't think at this moment I would have a trophy in my hands named after him."

Klopp, meanwhile, is not resting on his laurels as the German has already started preparations for next season.

LEAN AND MEAN

The departures of Dejan Lovren to Zenit Saint Petersburg and Adam Lallana to Brighton & Hove Albion is in line with his plans to retain a lean squad to ensure Liverpool remain competitive next season. The Reds boss used 24 players in the EPL last term.

Klopp, 53, gave chances to some of the club's academy players in the FA and League Cups to cope with fixture congestion, but he believes keeping as small a core as possible keeps the players on their toes.

"The solution cannot be to have a much bigger squad and then realise you cannot use all the players," said Klopp, who sent his players off on a two-week holiday with a reminder of their responsibilities to keep on top of the latest Covid-19 travel guidance and potential quarantine restrictions.

"These players can only play the football they play because they know they are needed.

"They are all human beings and nobody can be held back for a year and then on the last day of the year be told, 'Now we need you'. In between now and then, there must be a lot of training and support and challenges stuff like this.

"The size of the squad is not that important to me, the quality of the squad is very much so."

Klopp also cautioned about unrealistic expectations in a transfer market affected by the pandemic, Sky Sports reported.

"A few weeks ago, nobody knew if we could play Champions League next season again. Can you count on the money of the Champions League and how much will it be?" he said.

"As long as we don't know exactly about things, we have to wait. We have a really good squad... Time will hopefully bring a bit more clarity about the future and then we will make our decisions." - REUTERS, AFP

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