A 199th meeting with Manchester United and the unveiling of the Kenny Dalglish Stand – the perfect opportunity for Liverpool to 'go for it' on and off the pitch, believes Jürgen Klopp.
Saturday afternoon brings the resumption of Premier League football and a first match for the Reds at Anfield for four weeks, fittingly against their arch-rivals.
In addition to the size and importance of the fixture itself, the game will be the first played in front of the officially renamed Kenny Dalglish Stand, which honours the legendary Scot for his contribution to the club during the past four decades.
As he reflected on the decision, Dalglish acknowledged the ‘many times’ Liverpool fans made a difference to the team in his years as a player and twice as a manager.
And, asked if a strong atmosphere can be instrumental again tomorrow, Klopp insisted it could – especially if any influences of an earlier kick-off can be dismissed.
“That would be nice,” said the boss in response to the reference from Dalglish.
“He was here yesterday with his son, so it was nice to have a little chat. What a wonderful guy he is – a big role model for pretty much everybody.
“And I’ve been long enough in England to understand his Scottish! That’s good; now we have real conversations, at the beginning it was only friendly smiling. It becomes more and more interesting!
“He’s a fantastic, fantastic person. And he is right. They were different times. These generations with him as a player and as a manager, what a generation that was. It’s nice to have them. But he knows that times have changed. We all felt it already. European nights at Anfield are still outstanding.
“All 12pm or 12.30pm games at Anfield – could we improve? Yes. It’s Manchester United – maybe we should switch the watch a little bit in the right direction, feel like it is eight o’clock at night and go for it! We know we have to deliver but everybody who wants to help, there’s a very warm welcome. We could need it.”
The two-year anniversary of Klopp’s appointment as Liverpool manager passed last weekend, during the international break.
While the German saw no reason to celebrate the date, his faith and optimism concerning the potential of the Reds side he is developing remains undiminished.
“It was not a big party!” he replied to a question about the landmark at his pre-match press conference.
“For me, [it has been] a wonderful time, I have enjoyed each second, it’s fantastic. It’s a difficult job, yes. Are we where we could be? Not sure. Did we do really well last year? Yes. Did we do good or better this year? Yes, but we didn’t get the results so far. Does that mean I should stop? No.
“Maybe that says a little bit about if we improved or not. We had to improve to be in the situation where we are now; if we wouldn’t have improved, we would not be in the situation where we were last season, fourth position, or with not the biggest distance to the top teams at the moment, even if when it looks from the points a little bit different.
“If I would come in today as the new manager and this would be the situation, and if everybody would give us still then this kind of time and say ‘Yes, now, let’s change it now, let’s do the next step’, that would be perfect. Unfortunately, if they sack me now, I don’t think a lot of managers would do the job better than I do – and I don’t think I’m perfect. But it’s quite difficult to find better options on this.
“So, I still think as long as 98 per cent of all Liverpool [fans] think we are on the right way, we will succeed. That’s how it is. It’s quite difficult. The good old times, not only from the derby side – jumping into each other, getting red cards and bleeding players – they will not come back. But the good old times when one team dominated the league for 20 years will not come back either. That’s how it is.”
Klopp continued: “Our job is to work in this moment and to fight with all we have for each point. That’s what we are doing actually.
“I’m not overly happy, that’s why I said it was not a big party when somebody called me and said congratulations on two years at Liverpool.
“I didn’t immediately open a bottle of champagne, because I feel we’re in the middle of everything. We’re not at the start, of course not, but there’s still a long way to go. I knew it before so I’m not surprised, but even if there’s a long way to go, we could have more points. We could have got more points last year and we could have more points already this year.
“But I’m calm and cool with all the things we still have to do. I know we have to work but I knew that from the beginning, so no problem for me.”