Klopp: No-one can compete with Man City | Pep: Liverpool are contenders
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes no-one can compete with Manchester City this season due to the financial power the Premier League champions have at their disposal.
Klopp’s Reds have rivalled Pep Guardiola’s side at the top of the Premier League table over the past four seasons but City go into this weekend’s Super Sunday clash at Anfield 13 points ahead of the Merseyside club, who have suffered a poor start to the campaign.
Behind City’s success is the impactful introduction of striker Erling Haaland, who has 15 Premier League goals in the first nine top-flight matches since his £51.1m move from Borussia Dortmund – and Klopp insists Liverpool cannot afford to act like the champions in terms of financial spending.
“Nobody can compete with City,” the Liverpool manager told his pre-match press conference. “You have the best team in the world and you put in the best striker on the market. No matter what it costs, you just do it.
“City won’t like it, nobody will like it, but you know the answer. What does Liverpool do? We cannot act like them. It’s not possible, not possible.”
Klopp even went so far as to claim there are football teams in the world who can “do what they want financially” – with fellow Premier League club Newcastle in that group with City.
“It’s just clear: there are three clubs in world football who can do what they want financially,” the German added. “It’s legal, everything is fine, but they can do whatever they want. Competing with them? It’s not possible to deal with that.
“I heard the Newcastle [sporting director Dan Ashworth] say there’s no ceiling for this club – he’s absolutely right. There’s no ceiling for Newcastle. Congratulations – some clubs have ceilings.”
Pep: Why should I ignore Liverpool? They’re contenders
In his own pre-match press conference, City boss Guardiola refused to dismiss Liverpool as a title contender this season, with the Spaniard claiming Klopp has a lot of time to turn things around in his favour.
City go into the Super Sunday clash at Anfield one point behind early Premier League leaders Arsenal, but Guardiola believes every ‘Big Six’ side can still challenge the champions for the title this term – especially with the World Cup break happening in November and December.
“The main rival, there are a few teams,” Guardiola said. “Arsenal are already there. For a long time they weren’t, they were patient with Mikel (Arteta), they changed the club and they are a contender. Tottenham will be there, Chelsea and Liverpool will be there.
“Even Liverpool, I always consider them as contenders. Maybe [if this was] two months left, it would be too late. But it’s one part of the season.
“The Premier League is always fascinating, there is a challenge to be champions. Liverpool and us were concentrated on being champions but why should I ignore him right now as we’re in October? October, everyone is [trying to be] champions.
“The reality is that Man City arrive to be here and want to stay here against Liverpool, [Manchester] United and the rest of the teams.”
Klopp: Haaland setting new standards
With regards to hotshot Haaland, Klopp claimed Liverpool need to cut out Haaland’s supply line to limit his influence – but the German manager admitted that would only fix one of several problems City can pose.
“When you play against, at the moment, the best striker in the world, you have to make sure he doesn’t get many balls. That’s the challenge with him. That’s what we will try,” said Klopp.
“Against City, if you close Haaland down with too many players, you open up gaps for the other world-class players. It won’t make life easier but that’s a football problem and we try to find solutions.
“Physically, he [Haaland] sets new standards. The combination of him being really physical, technical and having sensational awareness. His orientation on the pitch, he’s barely offside and reads that really well.
“So many good things make him a striker. Some of the best players around him in the world in setting up goal and finding up a pass. De Bruyne, Gundogan, Foden, Mahrez. That’s a perfect fit, no doubt about it.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola refused to be drawn into suggestions that Haaland could struggle in a big environment and the atmosphere Anfield can pose.
City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero never managed to score in his 11 career trips to Anfield but Guardiola does not feel Haaland, who “surprised” the Spaniard with his mentality, is likely to suffer a similar Merseyside drought.
“I don’t know – it should be a question for Sergio,” said the City boss. “It’s eleven versus eleven, the pitch is the same. It’s because the opponent is difficult, not because of the stadium. I’ve never played at Anfield so I haven’t had that feeling. But it shouldn’t be [the same for Haaland].
“The biggest challenge [for Haaland] is adapting as quick as possible. Knowing your team-mates, knowing how we play and the lifestyle in England. This is the most important thing. Then you have to perform as best as you can in yourself.
“When a player arrives, I always expect the best. So far, the numbers are unbelievable and he’s playing regularly. He can improve and many bad moments are coming. Right now, go for this one.”
Watch Liverpool vs Manchester City live on Sky Sports this weekend on Super Sunday from 4pm, kick-off 4.30pm