Klopp set to make Benteke sharper

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates with Simon Mignolet after the game on Dec 26.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates with Simon Mignolet after the game on Dec 26.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Christian Benteke believes Juergen Klopp is the right manager to help him develop into a more potent attacking threat for Liverpool.

The Belgian striker scored the winner in Liverpool's 1-0 win over Premier League leaders Leicester City on Boxing Day after coming on for injured compatriot Divock Origi in the first half.

This was only his fourth goal in 12 games since Klopp took over as Liverpool manager from Brendan Rodgers in October.

"I spoke with the manager a few days ago about where I can improve and what he is expecting from me," Benteke said yesterday. "We had a good conversation. We had like a 'man conversation' and I think it is going to help me and help the team.

"I think I have to run more and I have to be there for my team-mates."

Benteke, who moved from Aston Villa in July for £32.5 million (S$68.2 million), had gone six league games without a goal before Saturday, with Klopp opting to start Roberto Firmino and Origi in attack.

GOOD GUIDANCE

We had a good conversation. We had like a 'man conversation' and I think it is going to help me and help the team. I think I have to run more and I have to be there for my team-mates... You could see against Leicester that I showed I understand his message, and now I have to keep going like that.''

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE, on how he wants to improve for Reds manager Juergen Klopp

"You could see against Leicester that I showed I understand his message and now I have to keep going like that," Benteke said. "I want to start, of course. Every player wants to play but it is the decision of the manager and I have to be ready."

Liverpool are already missing striker Danny Ings for the entire season owing to a knee ligament injury and fitness questions hang over England international Daniel Sturridge.

Klopp insisted on Saturday that he would not rush to include Sturridge in his starting line-up, despite the former Chelsea forward taking to social media to declare his fitness.

"Perfect gift for Christmas from the boys getting a win. On a sidenote, I'm back training and good to go," the 22-year-old said on Twitter.

Klopp bristled at the idea that the intensity of his training methods might be a contributory factor to the 22 separate injuries that Liverpool have suffered since the German took over as manager on Oct 9.

He also refused to buy into the view that the Premier League is akin to a survival of the fittest as, in his limited experience, the fittest are just as likely to falter, with Origi succumbing to a hamstring injury against Leicester that leaves Liverpool with Benteke as their only available forward for the visit to Sunderland tomorrow.

"It is not the training, because we are not training often enough," Klopp insisted. "It is no problem for me to take responsibility for all the things, but we cannot train enough to take responsibility for injury. It is the intensity (of games).

"If you have injuries, then other players have to play too often.

"For example, look at our situation with centre-halves - two are fit, one goes out and that means the other must come back in straight away.

"You cannot change this, you cannot change training, you cannot do more or less. You do the things everybody knows is right in recovery, but you have to play football."

Liverpool, eighth before the latest round of games, will look to make it back-to-back wins when they take on Sunderland tomorrow. The Black Cats, who are second from bottom in the table, are on a four-game winless run.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'Klopp set to make Benteke sharper'. Print Edition | Subscribe