Klopp defensive complaints show he is football’s sorest loser – with Man Utd his main target

Matt Stead
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool keep having to play against opponents who defend deep and counter-attack and quite frankly it seems a little bit unfair.

“The third goal I don’t count because it was the first time they passed the halfway line in the second half,” said Klopp after watching Wolves summarily dismantle his Liverpool side at Molineux, with a Ruben Neves goal on the counter-attack completing a humbling afternoon.

It wasn’t the first time Klopp has complained about being unable to break down a defensive team and it most certainly won’t be the last, particularly if Liverpool’s form continues. Here are just a few of the times the manager has blamed a disappointing result on the opposition not letting his side walk straight through.


The opponent: Spurs

The result: 2-2 (April 2022)

The Klopp quote:

“I’m sorry I’m the wrong person for that, I don’t like this kind of football. But that’s my personal problem.

“I think they’re world-class, and I think they should do more for the game. I think the game against Liverpool they had 36, 38 per cent possession.

“But it’s my problem. I cannot coach it. So that’s why I cannot do it. So yes, world-class players block all the balls, really difficult. Atletico Madrid is doing it. Fine, they won whatever. Fine, absolutely fine. I just can’t. I respect everything they do, but it’s not me.”

Spurs manager Antonio Conte forgave Klopp, reasoning that the German’s frustration came about because “they lost the Premier League because of that result”. Liverpool finished a point behind Manchester City that season and those were the last points the Reds dropped.


The opponent: Man Utd

The result: 0-0 (January 2021)

The Klopp quote:

“We played football, tried to do it, force them back into their own box. The worst thing you can face in the world, in football, is you play against a side with world-class players and they all defend with all they have, deep in the box and only counter-attack. It’s really difficult – that’s the biggest challenge.”

Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted his side “attacked every time we got the ball” and “went forward too quickly”, adding: “The thought that we weren’t attacking, I don’t understand that one.” Liverpool had 17 shots to eight but three efforts on target to Man Utd’s four.


The opponent: Atletico Madrid

The result: 2-3 (March 2020)

The Klopp quote:

“I am completely happy with the performance. It’s so difficult to play a side like this. I don’t understand with the quality they have the football they play. When I see players like Koke, Saul, Llorente, they could play proper football and not stand in their own half and play counter-attacking football.

“We accept it of course but it doesn’t feel right tonight. I realise I am a really bad loser, especially when the boys put such an effort in against world-class players on the other side who defend with two rows of four.”

Diego Simeone shrugged it off as he tends to but it really was absolute nonsense from the Liverpool manager.


The opponent: Man Utd

The result: 1-1 (October 2019)

The Klopp quote:

“Man United had momentum in the first half because they were purely there to defend us. Whoever said before the game that this game is always built up like a mountain and stuff like that and then we come here and they only have to defend. So one day I will really wait for the day when they have to make the game against us and we defend – and let’s see how that is.

“Since I’ve been in England it’s pretty much been like that. We come here put it all together, attitude, tactical defensive shapes. Eight players defending, with the quality of Man United, it’s not easy.

“I’m not the person who should be frustrated by United’s style. In the last years they just defend, that’s how it is, it’s no criticism, it’s just a fact. We always play against the wall. We need to do better, but it is how it is. I don’t think Man United can play like this if the other team doesn’t have the ball as much.

“We play very often against a team like this. When you think United v Liverpool you think both teams attacking, but it’s not.”

Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his side “soaked up pressure really well” and Liverpool “didn’t create too many chances,” adding: “I take it as a compliment, that we’ve defended so well. When the opposition manager is frustrated, that’s a good sign our boys have done well. I think we’ve been closest to winning both games against Liverpool, so I don’t know what the problem has been.”

Man Utd led for 39 minutes at Old Trafford and had seven shots to Liverpool’s 10.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd Jurgen Klopp Liverpool


The opponent: West Brom

The result: 2-2 (April 2018)

The Klopp quote:

“It was a difficult game, especially after the pitch got drier and drier, we had the ball constantly and it’s not so easy. West Brom obviously decided not to water the pitch at half-time again. 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.”

Darren Moore described Klopp as “an excellent man, a passionate man” because he is far too nice, adding that: “They are representing England in the Champions League and I want them to get to the final and win it.”

Klopp also conceded the following month that he “said all that rubbish after the game because I was really angry we didn’t win it”.


The opponent: Man Utd

The result: 0-0 (October 2017)

The Klopp quote:

“I think, again, the performance was worth three points. We were the better side, the more active side. But I think Man Utd came here wanting a point and they got it, We wanted three points and we didn’t get it.

“Everybody knows it’s quite difficult now when against a top-class team like Man Utd and they have a defensive approach, you will not have 20 chances. But we had enough big, clear chances.

“It’s not my right to be frustrated. If we were to play this way… we could not do it at Liverpool. But obviously for Manchester United it’s OK. I don’t judge. It’s OK.

“We have to take it. We have to think about our performance and our situation. We wanted to win, 100 per cent, everyone could see that.”

Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho said he “was waiting for Jurgen to change and go more attacking but he kept the three strong midfielders at all times,” adding: “So I know that probably you think we were defensive and they were offensive – well, you are at home and you don’t move anything. I don’t know why. I was waiting for that and he didn’t do it. I think he did well, honestly [not changing it].”

Liverpool had 63% possession and 19 shots to Man Utd’s six. It was a right old slog.