Jürgen Klopp plays down sideline incidents after West Brom draw
‘Usually I shake hands, I did not today because it was not a friendly game,’ the Liverpool boss said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp looks back at West Brom coach Mark O’Connor as he approaches for a handshake after the final whistle during the Premier League match at Anfield. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp admits their last-gasp 2-2 draw at home to West Brom felt more like a win but he refused to be drawn into a war of words over West Brom’s tactics.
Having led through Jordan Henderson’s well-worked goal the Reds fell behind after Craig Dawson and Jonas Olsson – who also had a goal ruled out for offside – both converted two corners only for substitute Divock Origi’s deflected long-range strike in the sixth of eight added minutes to rescue a point.
The lengthy additional time was for the long delay after Craig Gardner’s reckless knee-high challenge – which went unpunished – on Dejan Lovren saw the Croatia defender carried off on a stretcher.
At various times during the match there were words exchanged with West Brom counterpart Tony Pulis and at the final whistle there was no handshake as Klopp raced to celebrate with his players, although he was confronted by a member of the visitors’ backroom staff.
Klopp led his players to the Kop to thank them for their support and admits he enjoyed the draw more than he should have.
“It was the best atmosphere since I’ve been here, I enjoyed the atmosphere with my whole body. I want to say ‘thank you’,” he said.
“Sometimes a point deserved in the right way is more important.
“I know three points is important for the table but for development, the style of play against a team like this. Everyone tells us we can’t play against teams like this but yes we can, staying in the game; to come back, that is a big moment in football.
“On Thursday (against Sion in Switzerland) we played on ice; today against a wall and it was not easy to create chances against a team like this.
“Maybe the crowd were disappointed but they didn’t let us feel that. We were all in the game. We all wanted this one point and it felt like three, in this moment it was an explosion.”
Klopp refused to criticise Gardner for his challenge or expand on his disagreement with Pulis.
“He (Gardner) played the ball, a millisecond before he hit Dejan,” he added.
“It was like the whole game, on the edge of everything. I am not sure the ref saw it.
“We hope it (Lovren’s injury) is not too serious but we have to wait for the scan.
“Everything could have happened in this situation but hopefully we’ll have more luck than in previous situations (with injured players).”
On Pulis he said: “I didn’t see him after the game. I can say nothing. We had some words in the game; sometimes it takes more than a few seconds to cool down.
“Usually I shake hands, I did not today because it was not a friendly game.”
Klopp also defended goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who continues to draw criticism.
“I said to Simon at half-time, if somebody says it was your fault, it is not true, it is my fault. I have nothing negative to say about Simon,” he added.
“They had six or seven players who were six foot four or taller and that is really difficult to defend but we will do better and work on it.
“In England it is really difficult for goalkeepers to come out as there is no-one to protect them but he can help if he comes out.”
Pulis also played down any perceived animosity with Klopp, insisting he was more annoyed about not leaving with three points.
“He has got to do what he has got to do, I am more disappointed about the way they came back to make it 2-2,” he said.
“He is animated. I have been animated all my life on the bench. I have no problems with that.
“We have come here, tried to be resilient. I don’t think there was a booking during the game. The big disappointment was they got that goal.”
Pulis also brushed aside Gardner’s tackle on Lovren.
“The two worst challenges in the game are (James) Milner’s challenge on Gardner and Skrtel’s challenge on Salomon (Rondon). Gardner has played the ball. The others Skrtel has gone right over the ball,” he added.
Pulis was annoyed at Olsson’s effort being disallowed for offside after referee Craig Pawson initially awarded the goal and only changed his mind after a discussion with linesman Roger West, who at no point signalled for offside.
“The big disappointment is the linesman never put his flag up,” said the West Brom manager.
“They tell me he is offside so why he hasn’t put his flag up and why has he dragged the referee 50 yards across to talk to him?
“We will speak to the officials on Monday to find out why that is. If the flag goes up at the time we accept everything.”