Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool v Everton: ‘I love these kind of games’
From scoring 10 goals in one game as a youngster to managing Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp says derby matches – like the Merseyside rivalry – have shaped him as a person.
The Liverpool boss will be in the dugout for his third Merseyside derby with Everton, live on Sky Sports on Saturday lunchtime, and could become the first Reds manager to win his first three city showdowns.
The German revealed why he relishes games of this nature, where emotions and passion run high, and used an example of playing for his local team in Stuttgart as a youngster of why derby games are embedded in his DNA.
“I love these kind of games,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“For me the derby game was always the most exciting game of the season when I started playing for my local team. It was against a team 3km away from my home town. Scoring goals in these games were the most exciting thing you could imagine.
“I had in my mind that in one of those games I scored 10 goals – but I’m not sure if that really happened!
“Meeting everyone the next day in school – that’s how my love for football started. A lot of things in life have changed but that feeling hasn’t – that’s really good.”
Klopp is no stranger to fierce rivalry between local clubs from his time managing Borussia Dortmund, where he took charge of the Bundesliga giants 15 times against neighbours Schalke – a game otherwise known as the Revierderby, named after the Ruhr region where both clubs are located.
When asked to compare that tussle to the Merseyside encounter, Klopp revealed there is not as much hostility between fans off the pitch as there is in Germany.
“The difference in this derby is that I really like the respect we have for each other in the city,” he said.
“In the game there is nothing more important than the result – but it’s not more than that. That’s how sport should be.
“When I get in a taxi, if the driver is an Evertonian, he never asks me to get out! When I go to pubs where I live there are a lot of Everton fans around me and they accept me – that could be different in Germany with Schalke and Dortmund.”
Liverpool won just two of their 12 matches in January and February but bounced back in March with victories over Arsenal and Burnley and a draw at Manchester City, which has left them in a solid position in fourth in the race for Champions League qualification.
However, Everton are only six points behind them in sixth and a first win at Anfield since September 1999 for Ronald Koeman’s men could be a huge turning point in the season.
Klopp thinks the unique nature of the Merseyside derby will make everyone concerned forget about league positions and previous form.
“The good thing about derbies is that you don’t have to think about the situation in the league because these games stand for themselves,” Klopp said.
“Everybody is 100 per cent focused on winning. You can decide a game on your own emotion and feeling towards something. The world will not change after this game but for all of us it can.”
Klopp is well aware of the long-term importance of what a positive derby result can bring to a club, referring back to a dramatic 3-3 draw between Dortmund and Schalke in 2008, which changed the trajectory of his impact at the club.
He said: “It was the fourth game of the season and we had already played Bayern, Leverkusen and someone else, but all everyone kept saying was ‘you have to beat Schalke’….we were 3-0 down at half-time!
“They should have made it 4-0 just after the break – but they didn’t, and we came back to draw 3-3 and it was the start of a great story.
“I think this was a really decisive moment in my life.”
Klopp will be hoping to create another special memory at Anfield on Saturday.
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