Jurgen Klopp bites back at Gary Neville over Champions League remarks
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has rejected former Manchester United captain Gary Neville's claims that the Reds should prioritise the Premier League over the Champions League.
Liverpool progressed through to the Champions League final last season where they were soundly beaten by three-time defending champions Real Madrid and Neville told The Times that he thinks the Reds could have a real shot at the Premier League title if they did not have to play Champions League football in the latter half of the season.
Klopp rubbished the suggestion and asked what Neville he had to say in relation to his former club Manchester United.
“How should that work? What do we do? We don’t play Champions League or what?" Klopp asked at Friday's press conference.
“Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that would work. How do you prepare a game and not focus on it? You bring your kids in the Champions League? That would be funny!
“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.
“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’.
“It doesn’t work like this. I don’t want to be too critical because I don’t know exactly how he said it but sitting in an office and talking about football is completely different to doing the job, to be honest.
“But it’s an opinion. What did he say about Manchester United in that case? The club he’s more interested in. Nothing?”
Klopp also moved to quieten the uncertainty over summer signing Fabinho. The Brazil international has yet to start a Premier League game for Liverpool but Klopp pointed to previous signings as reason for patience with his new midfielder.
"I don't like to compare players but we had similar question about Robbo and Oxlade and I'm not sure if Sadio (Mane) played from the beginning, but I think he had a full pre-season," Klopp added.
"It's absolutely no problem. I don't like the situation, because I don't like to say to Fabinho, who is full of energy and desire to play, to tell him he is not involved. That is not nice, but it is the job.
"He came from another league playing in a completely different system to us and that takes time. The plan was - and still is - that he will make us better.
"From my point it is all fine, but I know the situation isn't what some people expected but I cannot change that."