Pressure unwelcome for Klopp as Liverpool go to Everton aiming to keep title tilt on track

Jürgen Klopp says he will not miss the Merseyside derby when he leaves Liverpool

Everton v Liverpool, Goodsion Park, Wednesday, 8pm (live on Sky Sports Premier League)

Jürgen Klopp will not miss the Merseyside derby when his Liverpool reign is over. To hear him explain why in advance of a final encounter with Everton was further evidence of the Liverpool manager’s need to recharge once one more title race has been run.

Klopp could look favourably on the most played derby in English football, which reaches the 244th edition on Wednesday with the local rivals both in desperate need of victory but for very different reasons.

He has lost only one of 18 Merseyside derbies, and that was behind closed doors during the pandemic. He has never lost at Goodison Park and a 10th win over Everton on Wednesday would also be Liverpool’s 100th in the fixture’s history. Beyond the release of victory, however, it is not an occasion that Klopp has ever truly enjoyed.


“Around the derby is just pressure,” reasoned the Liverpool manager, who has lost Diogo Jota for the next fortnight with another injury. “The pressure is higher so why should the joy be higher? You win it, great; but why should I miss the pressure around it? This time, when you’re really playing for something, that’s the pressure. But when you are both not in a great moment, it’s the one game you definitely have to win. That kind of pressure – why would I miss that? It’s not enjoyable.

“Everyone else can only watch it and think ‘Oh my God, it looks exciting’. But somebody has to make the decisions, somebody has to do this, somebody has to do that. So many people always visit me around the games and say, ‘We will not see that any more or that any more’, and I just want to tell them – I work all the time while you just watch the games. I’m constantly in it. Even when the game is over I can’t switch off. It’s not great to be in this situation all the time. Maybe other people enjoy that more than me. But that’s something I definitely will not miss.”

Klopp added: “I had my last European game last week [against Atalanta]. Yes, we didn’t go through and you can make a big story of it being my last game but I just tried to figure out how I felt, and it was nothing. It’s not like I felt I would never have a European game again. If that would be the case, then I wouldn’t stop it.”

The physical nature of the Merseyside derby has also contributed to Klopp’s wariness towards it, although he hopes the fixture’s chequered history in that regard has started to turn.

“It used to be [the most physical game],” the Liverpool manager admitted. “At the beginning I remember I showed the players videos of [Jamie] Carragher in the derby and Stevie [Gerrard] where he got red cards – I love one, and respect the other a lot. That’s what people expect, that if you get a red card against Everton it’s fine. It’s not, it’s absolutely not, because we want to win the game and it’s the only reason why we go there.

“At the beginning there were a few situations where I thought it was over the top. Since then it has become a bit settled and I hope it stays like this because it should. At the beginning I thought, ‘Wow, that’s what they are allowed to do?’ and I didn’t get that. But I had to learn all these things over the years. Everything that makes it a really special football game, with all the ups and downs in a game and the good and bad, I’m fully in for it. When it goes over the top, I’m absolutely not.”

Klopp claimed that successive home wins for Everton against Nottingham Forest and Burnley had “pretty much sorted” their place in the top flight for another season. Everton manager Sean Dyche, who will be without Beto due to concussion protocols and has an injury doubt over Dominic Calvert-Lewin, would beg to differ.

The importance of this derby for Liverpool is beyond dispute. The Liverpool manager said: “Until a few weeks ago everything was better than people expected [at the start of the season], then you have this week where we played one of our better performances at [Manchester] United but lost, and then it is ‘Why don’t you score more?’

“There are only two teams who have scored more (Manchester City and Arsenal) and they haven’t scored 50 more. We win at Atalanta, not enough to go through, but we still won and then we beat Fulham and people say it wasn’t really that good. My god, I wish you could play a Premier League game and feel the intensity. I am really positive. We won the last two games 4-1 [on aggregate], so if people want to see it like that we are in a good moment.”