Jurgen Klopp sat down with Sky Sports to look back at 2018, how he’s finding life in Liverpool and discusses his own future…
With Liverpool top of the league at Christmas for the first time since 2013, the Reds’ boss gave Sky Sports a Christmas gift of an exclusive interview with Vinny O’Connor to talk candidly about how he’s finding the top job at Anfield.
The pair discussed how the Klopps celebrate Christmas, how he’s enjoying life in the north west – apart from the weather, of course – Liverpool’s 2018 and what the future will hold for the German.
What’s your plan on Christmas Day?
In your country, it’s celebrated on the 25th, but in Germany, the ‘holy evening’ is the 24th. So for the 25th, I asked the boys how they want to do it. We know we have to train, that’s it, but I’m flexible enough to say ‘come on, tell me about your traditions’.
We will train early in the morning and then the boys go home, have their Christmas Day traditional things with the family, then we meet again late in the evening and go to the hotel ahead of the Newcastle game.
It’s already a challenge to deal with a home game, but an away game is something you cannot really do as families should. I know people don’t think about it, but players in that age group have a lot of little kids, so we try to make it as comfortable as possible.
What do you miss most about being home at Christmas?
The holiday! We usually had it off in Germany. I know my colleagues in Germany are planning on going to some warm-weather places, or skiing or stuff like that, our kids were old enough so we didn’t have to think too much about what we did on the 24th, we went somewhere either warm or cold and had a good time together.
I don’t really miss it, it’s not a big problem, I think Christmas is such a wonderful time and I still have time to have it here, but I imagine for the players, people involved in football with little kids it’s not cool. For 15 or so years you are involved in football, 15 years with no real Christmas, that must be hard.
For all the guys in the stadium, involved in the ticket office, the stewards, there are so many people who do their jobs so how can I moan? For me it’s ok, but for many people, it’s not so cool.
What’s the best thing about living in Liverpool?
I enjoy everything apart from the weather! It should be winter but it’s still autumn until March probably, and everything else is really cool.
If you have the right people around you, you could pretty much live everywhere. Family isn’t a problem, our sons, our friends love it as well, Liverpool is an enjoyable city, and if you don’t have my face you can go out and have a lot of fun.
Everybody I know who has visited me in the past loves the city, loves the stadium, loves the club, so everything is good but I don’t think too much about it.
My life feels natural, more and more, and the better the language gets, the more and more for me you are with all the people around, all the traditions and it’s nice. It was a conscious decision to come here, and it has worked out well.
Could you stay at Liverpool beyond 2022?
I don’t want to think that far ahead. If you write that already, a lot of people will speak. Everything is good at the moment, but still, ‘Klopp didn’t win anything’.
I haven’t won anything so that’s part of the truth, we don’t have to think about 2022, it’s a long way to go. In the summer, there will be people who say it’s the best time for me to go if we win something because we will never win anything again, there will be other people who say I have to go if we don’t win anything.
As long as we all enjoy the ride here, and I mean all – from the owners, the players to the supporters, to everyone around the club – we can try it and try it, but at the moment if one of those groups isn’t happy any more, then we shouldn’t stretch it and say ‘come on, try to do it’.
It’s a good time, and 2022 is a long time so I don’t have to think about it hopefully, everything will be fine and then we can think about that.
What was the high point of 2018?
The high point was probably making Champions League qualification, or coming into the hotel in Rome after reaching the Champions League final was not too bad either. It was a nice reception.
If we could have finished that competition at that moment it would have helped, we would have had two weeks more holiday! And not the frustrating moment in Kiev. But the whole season was nice, we enjoyed it a lot, there were lots of good moments.
That’s the thing about working with a good football team, you have a lot of good games and good results. The Champions League was so exciting, the pressure in different games, winning 3-0 at home to Manchester City but when we had to go there for the return game everyone knows it means nothing, but we did it there too.
It was the same going to Rome with the 5-2 and you think ok – it’s nothing. The game starts like it starts and you have that up and down in the game, so that was all pretty special. It was a good season, I enjoyed it a lot.
We go for everything, that doesn’t mean we get everything, but we are now in three competitions, thank god, and in a really good moment. We will try to get everything as long as we are in the competitions.
What can Liverpool fans expect from next year?
I hope more development. The boys developed in an outstanding way, there are a few things which were clear before because we all get older but in this age group it’s not older, just more experienced, so that always helps for the next year if you’re smart enough to use it, but the boys are.
I should expect a few more special games like in the last few games, it’s unbelievably intense, it always feels like the decisive game.