Football

Liverpool will forge on without Anfield boost: Juergen Klopp

Klopp backs Reds to be motivated despite closed door matches, adds that no player will be forced to train

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp believes his runaway leaders will cope without the vociferous support of their Anfield crowd should the English Premier League season resume.

Many English top-flight players have resumed training this week after an EPL meeting on Monday gave the go-ahead to the first stage of the return-to-play protocols.

If matches do eventually take place again this season, they will be behind closed doors and possibly at neutral venues.

Liverpool were left 25 points clear at the top of the table when the Covid-19 pandemic saw the season suspended in March.

They now need just two more wins to claim a first English title in 30 years and German boss Klopp, having watched his native Bundesliga resume last weekend without spectators at matches, is confident his players can motivate themselves without a crowd.

"The competition will make the intensity," he told Liverpool's website.

"So it's not about 'oh, Liverpool have to win two games'.

"By the way, we have to win two games when we start - it's not 'only two', it's two. We have to win them.

"We have to do it, unfortunately, without the best boost in the world and the best kick in your *** in the right moment in the world, from the Anfield crowd.

"But that's how it is. It's 100 per cent (that) the perfect package of football is a full, packed Anfield Stadium, two really good teams, big fight, super goals and, at the end, Liverpool win. That's the perfect matchday."

The former Borussia Dortmund coach added: "It looks like it will be possible to play behind closed doors - in Germany, it is already possible.

"All the physical numbers of the games in Germany were incredibly high, so like 117 or 118km running, without anybody shouting at you that you have to run.

"Just because you want it, because you do it for your teammates. That's exactly what we have to do as well."

Players are now allowed to train in small groups, with sessions not lasting longer than 75 minutes. Yesterday, the Liverpool players trained in groups of 10 at the club's Melwood complex.

PLAYERS' CHOICE

Klopp told Sky Sports television after a first session with 10 players on a sunny day that he expected all his players to show up, but they were under no pressure.

"It's their choice so that's clear," said Klopp, who had two more training groups to go.

"I said before the session 'You are here on free will.

"Usually you sign a contract and then you have to be in when I tell you. In this case, if you don't feel safe, you don't have to be here'.

"There are no restrictions, no punishment, nothing. So it's their own decision and we will respect that 100 per cent.

"The boys are fine. We would never put anybody in danger to do what we want to do.

"Yes, we love football, and yes, it's our job but it's not more important than our lives or the lives of other people." - AFP, REUTERS

Football