The first iteration of this article was published back in March 2019 after a poor Liverpool performance against Everton, and updated in February 2021 after an even worse display in a Merseyside derby.
Jurgen Klopp didn’t waste any time this season, getting his 2022-23 season off to a salty flyer with an opening day excuse. The pitch was too “dry” for his moisture-loving Reds, who could only manage a point at newly-promote Fulham.
Here are 12 of Klopp’s classic excuses…
Although the Fulham Twitter admin thoroughly enjoyed it, Saturday wasn’t the first time Klopp has bemoaned the opposition’s frugal use of the sprinklers.
Towards the end of 2017-18 season, Liverpool chucked in a two-goal lead at all-but-relegated West Brom, who staged what the German termed a “useless comeback”.
“I don’t think that point will help West Brom massively, it is a complete waste of points. They don’t need it, we would have needed it,” he said, later admitting he was speaking “rubbish”.
But not only did West Brom have the temerity to not roll over and have their bellies tickled at the time, they were also accused of not preparing their pitch specifically to Klopp’s liking. On a warm Saturday afternoon, they opted not to water the pitch at half-time, the heathens.
“It was a difficult game, especially after the pitch got drier and drier. We had the ball constantly and it’s not so easy. It was quite difficult. I was not happy with the pitch. You never played football, obviously. It makes a massive difference. If you’re like West Brom, the ball constantly in the air, you don’t need a wet pitch. That’s how it is and we have to deal with that. They can do it next year, playing with a dry pitch in the Championship.”
A year previously, though, after a goalless draw at home to Southampton, Klopp claimed watering the Anfield pitch was of little use.
“Today, I know nobody wants to hear it but I’m brave enough to say it, the pitch was really dry. We gave it all the water we had but after 15 minutes it was really dry, it was difficult.”
“You just cannot play football in this heavy wind,” Klopp in February last year, having watched James Rodriguez play a perfectly weighted through ball for Richarlison to score in the third minute in presumably a five-second eye-of-the-storm moment amid the hurricane at Anfield.
His excuse after that 2-0 defeat to Everton was the same one he he used in the March 2019 derby, when he said “the wind was coming from all directions”.
What must really stick in his craw is that while on that previous occasion the wind “did not help anybody”, this time it had a mind to help Everton and hinder Liverpool.
But then we shouldn’t be surprised at Klopp’s pure hatred of wind…
After the FA Cup defeat to Wolves at Molineux in January 2019, when Klopp made nine changes to his side, the Liverpool boss apportioned some of the responsibility for defeat to the blowy conditions. “The wind didn’t help, players struggled to control the ball… It wasn’t a nice game for the young boys.”
To be fair, Klopp had foreseen the problems the gale force conditions in England would present just two months after he arrived at Liverpool in October 2015.
“The English game is not faster than the German game. Perhaps there are a few more sprints. But there is a different style of football here, partially due to the weather. The wind can be quite extreme in England. We are not familiar with that in Germany and you have to keep things simple. Players who are not from the UK have to get used to the winds. I have to adapt my style of football as a result as well. Often, you are forced to keep things simple. And there are a lot more duels for the second ball here, and more duels in general. That makes the game even more intense.”
Sorry about the wind Liverpool! #MyBad
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) March 3, 2019
You should be sorry, God. What hope does Jurgen have against you and your obvious fervent support of Manchester City?
“I am convinced now that God is a Man City fan and that he will do everything to stop us,” Klopp said after their defeat in February 2021. “You can’t win against God.”
Hold on, God is “doing everything” to stop Liverpool? The Almighty? The clue’s in the moniker, lads. Give it up.
Liverpool came under fire in January 2019 after a result which then Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho felt might have decided the title. At half-time during the home draw with Leicester, their groundstaff cleared snow from the end which the Reds were attacking, leaving the other end relatively untouched.
Klopp explained that “there was not enough man power to clear all the pitch” and, in any case, if it was a ploy, it wasn’t a clever one. When you already have one of the best defensive units in the game, why leave the area they are patrolling more hazardous and unpredictable?
After a 1-1 draw, Klopp pinpointed the conditions as one of the reasons for his team’s tepid performance.
“You saw that the ball didn’t roll really. If you then have the ball pretty much for 70 to 80 percent of the time it makes life really uncomfortable. The only problem is if it stays on the pitch and that was actually the case.”
Not at one end, Jurgen.
Klopp came up with another imaginative excuse after another miserable result against West Brom.
“What I heard was that the actual extra time in the first half should have been ten minutes,” he said after being dumped out of the FA Cup by the Baggies in January 2018. “It was only four.”
“I heard that television said it’s not longer than four minutes. Of course that’s not possible, you can’t cut match time because there is something else to broadcast. I don’t know what was on afterwards, maybe the news or something. It was ten minutes and so you need to play ten minutes longer. You can’t say: ‘It’s now a little bit too long.'”
Fair play to BT Sport’s match director for playing this one with a straight bat…
I directed the match and I can categorically state that at no point did I (can add ‘have I’ or ‘would I’ to that) ever try to influence the officials, including the allocation of stoppage time. Not only would it be unprofessional, it would also be utterly futile. https://t.co/GD7SfOVn66
— SPJ Hughes (@HughesSPJ) January 30, 2018
Klopp got his knickers in a twist over the performance of Kevin Friend and his assistants in February 2019 after a draw at West Ham – when Liverpool scored an offside goal and failed to take a similarly-offside chance late on to secure an undeserved win.
“We had good moments and we score the goal which was offside… the referee must know that at half-time. It explains the second half because I think the referee knew and you saw there were a lot of strange situations, not decisive, just rhythm breakers. There were so many situations where it was 50-50 or 60-40 but it became a free kick for the other team.”
His on-pitch outburst cost Klopp an £8,000 fine and prompted Manuel Pellegrini to finally say something interesting.
Injuries… to opponents
If it’s not referees breaking up Liverpool’s rhythm, it is their opponents hurting themselves.
In February 2019, having being held by a Manchester United side that lost three players inside the opening 43 minutes and finished without four of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-choice front six, Klopp suggested the Red Devils’ injuries hurt Liverpool almost as much.
“It’s difficult. It was a strange game. We started really, really well, exactly as we wanted to start. Then the injury crisis started as well. That obviously cost us our rhythm. It was like: ‘What’s going on now?’ “United played with a completely new midfield, pretty much a new three up front. We lost the rhythm and couldn’t get it back.”
As a means of stopping Liverpool, ‘pulling hamstrings’ isn’t a method that had been tried before. Solskjaer really is a football genius.
BT Sport-induced injuries
Klopp was fuming at Liverpool being forced to play a Wednesday night Champions League match followed by an early Saturday Premier League encounter in November 2020. In that instance, Liverpool drew 1-1 with Brighton, with Pascal Gross equalising with a stoppage time penalty, after a 2-0 midweek defeat by Atalanta.
James Milner went off at the Amex with a hamstring injury and when asked by BT Sport’s Des Kelly about the extent of the issue, Klopp sarcastically said: “Congratulations.”
“Not me personally,” Kelly replied.
“Well you work for them,” Klopp told Kelly. “Ask Chris Wilder how we can work on that. I don’t know how often I have to say it, but you pick the 12:30 kick offs. Between now and December there is one more Wednesday, Saturday. These are difficult times. I am just saying it how it is. Wednesday to Saturday 12:30 is really dangerous.”
Here it is. Des Kelly vs Jurgen Klopp in full pic.twitter.com/Razfk39hfy
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) November 28, 2020
The next time Liverpool played a Champions League game on the Wednesday before the early kick-off on the Saturday, they beat Crystal Palace 7-0. They haven’t had as tight a turnaround since and have won two and lost six of their 11 games.
In March 2020 Liverpool were 22 points clear in the Premier League using the Nike Merlin ball, which had four fuse-wielded panels that provided a ‘bigger sweet spot for ball striking’ and ‘Aerowtrack’ grooves that helped to ‘ensure a more consistent flight’.
But they were undone by the Mitre pigs bladder used in the FA Cup as they lost 2-0 to Chelsea. The FA claim their choice ‘ensured ball shape and flight remain true’, but that was evidently horsesh*t as there’s no other explanation for error-prone goalkeeper Adrian making an error.
“The first goal, we lose a ball, what was it 18/19 yards in front of the goal? The specific characteristic of the ball and Willian’s shooting technique made life really difficult.”
Willian also hit the ball far too hard.
“In the second goal he just mishit the ball,” Klopp said after Alisson’s shocking display in the 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in February 2021. “There’s no real reason, maybe he had cold feet. It sounds funny but could be.”
Or maybe he had hot feet? Or warm shins? Or an itchy arse? Just stick with the first point, Jurgen: “there’s no real reason” for one of the best goalkeepers in the world to make a mistake like that.
Man City’s Covid jolly
Alisson’s feet were also a hell of a lot more weary than Ederson’s. In the build-up to that defeat at Anfield, Pep Guardiola clashed with Klopp over City’s enforced Covid break after Christmas after the Liverpool boss claimed “City had a two-week break for Covid reasons.”
“‘Jurgen has to see the calendar again. We had Covid and we played with 14 players at Stamford Bridge, but maybe I’m wrong and it was not two weeks, it was three or four weeks. When I see Jurgen I’ll say to him: how many weeks or days were we off? He knows it’s not true. Nobody in the Premier League has had two weeks off.”
City missed one game on December 28 with six of their players testing positive for a virus that has killed 120,000 people in the UK. What a lovely, relaxing one (not two) week “break” that must have been.
Man Utd penalties
When Liverpool fell to a 1-0 defeat by Southampton at St Mary’s in January 2021, Klopp was frustrated at the decision not to award a penalty for a foul on Sadio Mane. As an excuse for a defeat, that one’s as old as time, but not sufficient in Klopp’s case.
“I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five-and-a-half years. I’ve no idea if that’s my fault, or how that can happen.”
At the time he made the claim, Liverpool had been awarded 30 penalties in 199 Premier League games overseen by the German since he took over in October 2015. While United, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, had been awarded 27 in his 75 matches since he came in first as a caretaker manager in December 2018. So he wasn’t far off.
Mark Clattenburg called Klopp a “hypocrite” but then hinted at (but absolutely did not admit to) referee bias towards Manchester United.
The simple (boring) view of things is that United players get fouled in the box more often. That’s probably “how it can happen”.