REUTERS – Liverpool’s players were quick to credit manager Juergen Klopp’s tactics after they ran out convincing 4-1 winners against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The German replaced Brendan Rodgers, who was sacked last month, and has already revitalised a squad that were struggling under the Northern Irishman.
With just one defeat in their past eight games since Klopp took charge, the players recognise that belief is growing with every positive result.
Eight of the 11 who started against City on Saturday also started in the 3-1 defeat against Manchester United on Sept. 12 that marked the beginning of the end for Rodgers.
Liverpool, who looked like a team shorn of creativity and belief against United, were a different proposition against City, harrying their opponents into making mistakes and breaking at speed in a manner reminiscent of Klopp’s best days with his previous side Borussia Dortmund.
“It was the perfect tactical plan from the gaffer,” centre-back Dejan Lovren was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo.
“The gaffer has given us a lot of belief. On his first day he talked about having many non-believers around the club, but belief is growing.
“We are working harder. We are running now more than ever, more than any other team in the Premier League.”
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet concurred with Lovren’s assessment of a match that saw Liverpool rise to ninth in the table while knocking City off their perch and down to third.
“Before the game the gaffer laid out a plan for us and it worked out perfectly,” he told the club’s website (www.liverpoolfc.com).
“What he said before the game was the case. We didn’t let them breathe.”
Liverpool raced into a three-goal lead within the first 32 minutes before being pegged back by a Sergio Aguero drive just before halftime, and Mignolet stressed Klopp’s focus on improving his players’ mental strength as key to them being able to keep control in the second half.
“Just before half-time there was a bit of a setback, but we didn’t let it affect us and in the second half we were the better side again,” the Belgian said.
“The gaffer has worked really hard on that.”
Liverpool will hope to continue their renaissance under the German when they host Bordeaux in the Europa League on Thursday.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)