LONDON • Juergen Klopp has warned Liverpool that their Premier League rivals will not wait for them to discover their best form under his management after Sadio Mane's late goal helped Southampton salvage a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Sunday.
Klopp was within four minutes of recording his first win since succeeding Brendan Rodgers, only for Mane's close-range strike to cancel out a towering header from Christian Benteke, a Liverpool substitute.
The timing of that blow was particularly disappointing for Klopp, but it was surpassed by his sense that Liverpool's response to it had been to treat it like it was "the end of the world".
Seven of Liverpool's last nine games have ended with the same scoreline.
Eight of those nine were draws; the other a win over Aston Villa.
It took Brendan Rodgers six games to record his first Liverpool league win.
Turning his attention to the challenge he has taken on, the German acknowledged that Liverpool cannot afford to remain a work in progress for much longer, given the cut-throat nature of the Premier League, warning that other teams will take advantage if their transitional period goes on.
"We all know it takes time. I see development but the problem is the other teams don't wait for us. They want to beat us," the Liverpool manager said.
"Today I saw a next step, but of course we are disappointed because of the result.
"I saw many things that I can work with, I saw things that were better and of course I saw things that were not so good. Some of these things were because we played (in the Europa League) on Thursday.
"I saw two teams fighting for a result, but one team had more freshness because of one game less played in a week.
"They tried to press high and we were brave enough to play football. We had our moments, we had our situations - everything you need to win a close game."
While Klopp was open about his players' display, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal attempted to shield Wayne Rooney from criticism after the striker turned in a laborious display in a 0-0 draw with Manchester City.
United controlled possession in Sunday's 170th derby at Old Trafford, but had to wait until the closing stages to create any chances, with Rooney failing to record a single attempt at goal.
"I don't give any more answers about Wayne Rooney because I am sick of them," said van Gaal.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted that he is not a fan of cagey encounters. But he took heart from the defensive steel that City displayed.
"I don't know if we played to our best," said the Chilean. "The media say when teams get points playing away they are very tactical. I don't like it, it's not our normal way to do it, but if we need (to), we can do it. One point here is not bad."
THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE