Europe, Gerrard the focus for Klopp

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp's love for Liverpool is focused on qualifying for the Champions League tomorrow with a win over Middlesbrough, strengthening a squad that he believes can compete in Europe, and nurturing Steven Gerrard as a future manager for the club.

In an interview with The Times of London at Anfield on Thursday, Klopp spoke about his "privilege" in overseeing Liverpool's footballing fortunes, and his sense of responsibility for his legacy.

"It's perfect that we can involve Steven. What a guy, he's fantastic," Klopp said of the former captain, who is now the Under-18 coach.

"He was one of the world's best footballers ever. We had him last winter when he had a break in the USA (from Los Angeles Galaxy) and he had a few sessions with us, a few shooting sessions, and I thought, what is that? His shooting. Unbelievable.

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"I told him when I leave, or the club sack me, I don't care of course who'll be my successor, but I'd love that he'd be it.

"I'll do everything I can to make sure he gets all the information he needs. Because when you join a club you have a big responsibility for the future, and the future of this club needs legends like Steven Gerrard in decisive positions."

Klopp also dismissed the suggestion that Liverpool's back line is their weakness this season, arguing that defensive responsibilities have to be shared by all.

"Somebody blocks a ball on the line, and you say 'brilliant defending' but it's not. Brilliant defending would have been if the guy couldn't have had the shot," the Liverpool manager said.

"Big heart, passionate moment, but the defending was s***. Defending is the team. We conceded too many goals (42 in the league).

"We have to be better next year and we will be. For this we need to bring in quality players. Believe me, it is not easy to find players who make us better.

"We are already good. When our squad is fully fit, it's a Champions League squad already, especially the line-up."

THE TIMES, LONDON

LIVERPOOL V MIDDLESBROUGH

Singtel TV Ch103 & StarHub Ch228, tomorrow, 9.55pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Europe, Gerrard the focus for Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe