Jurgen Klopp insists he will be happy to hear people say Liverpool ‘parked the bus’ if it means they have won at Old Trafford for the first time in four years.
Liverpool against Manchester United is a clash of styles with Jose Mourinho’s more pragmatic approach being countered by Klopp’s desire to see his team go full throttle for victory.
Mourinho attracted criticism last October when he took United to Anfield and ground out a 0-0 draw but the onus will be on the home side to play with more flair in a clash that Liverpool’s manager has described as ‘the biggest I can imagine.’
Asked whether he expects Mourinho to park the bus, Klopp said: ‘Did he say it first? He was not inventor of the phrase “parking the bus”. I would never use that term. I have absolutely no problem with defending. We play a specific kind of football. Everyone makes a big thing of it. But it is all about winning. We have another history in the last few years.
‘In the last few years, they have been more successful than us. They have a specific way of playing football. If we have to defend there, we have to defend there with all we have. Nobody flies against United. It’s not a battle of systems or philosophies. It’s two very good teams going against each other.
‘When Manchester United will attack, I hope all my players are involved in defending. If someone says that is parking the bus in that moment then we park the bus. I have no problem with that. Over 90 minutes, of course we want to bring our football on the pitch as well.
‘That’s difficult to cope with as well, to deal with. That’s the plan for this game. But I don’t think there will be a lot of space in a lot of moments. I think it will be a big fight as derbies are in general. Hopefully at the end with a positive result.’
While Mourinho refused to get caught up in the emotion of the biggest fixture in English football at his press conference, Klopp – who described Mohamed Salah’s Player of the Month award for February as being ‘well deserved’ – made no attempt to play down the significance.
‘It is the biggest game I can imagine,’ said Klopp. ‘I’m really looking forward to it but it’s quite difficult as well. That is the plan – to get something. It’s a good moment to go there. But it is also an unbelievably difficult moment. Very experienced team, very experienced manager.
‘I can’t really remember the last game at Anfield. I think David de Gea made a few fantastic saves. But the last game against us is not in my mind. It is rarely rare that I use the last game for preparation. We need all our legs to defend the situation. It will be really interesting.’
Full-back Nathaniel Clyne is close to a return to action having not yet featured this season due to a back problem.
He may have to wait longer for his chance, though, after Klopp praised the performances of Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold in Clyne’s absence.
Fellow full-back Andy Robertson is also available while Klopp added that Jordan Henderson ‘looked OK yesterday’ after a dead leg and Georginio Wijnaldum is ‘on his way back’ from illness.