On whether Liverpool had to ‘dig in and win ugly’…
Yes, obviously. We had our moments… we started well but then lost the rhythm a little bit, it was really difficult. We didn’t accelerate in the right moments, our passes had not the right speed, not the right tempo. We didn’t create the right angles but we had still our moments. It is difficult, you have these crossing moments where you could cross but the way they defend in the box makes it not really likely you will score from these situations. So we are always waiting for ‘where can we find someone else?’, but they were really all involved in defending, they did really well, closed these gaps [and] we didn’t find the space. We tried to show the boys at half-time because the half-spaces were open pretty often when we found them – Trent pass, Hendo turned inside, passed it already to Gini and on the other side Robbo can go. We had these moments but not often enough to be honest and that made the game then a bit hard for us.
But all respect to Sheffield United, they did really well and they did that over 95 minutes, that really deserves all the respect. But we had still big chances, I think nearly no-brainers, but that’s how it is… and then we had luck around the goal, that is clear. It was not our biggest chance in the game, unlucky for Sheffield United for sure. So if it would have been a draw I would sit here and say that’s how it was today, Sheffield deserved it and that’s what we deserved. I don’t think we would have deserved to lose but a draw was there if we don’t use the chances. But, with the goal, we got the three points and that leaves me pretty happy in the moment, obviously.
On whether Liverpool showed the characteristics of champions by winning when not at their best…
I don’t know. I don’t know what exactly you need for that – I forgot, it’s too long ago! But yeah, winning on the cloudy days is especially valuable, for sure.
On Jordan Henderson’s substitution for Divock Origi was enforced due to a knock…
No, it was an offensive change. We had the opportunity – either Hendo or Gini, both worked hard, for both it was not an easy game today. Obviously we made the right decision, Gini stayed on the pitch and scored! We wanted to change our approach, so we could have then Bobby finally between the lines but still an option in behind with Mo. We needed to defend the wings properly because they are there constantly, that’s why we needed first Sadio and then Milly on that [right] wing. Div made a proper impact when he came on, it was really helpful that we could pass the ball there [for] the one-on-one situations and I think he crossed the ball before the goal as well. So, that was the reason.
On his defensive players deserving credit…
Absolutely, 100 per cent. You need a complete performance to win football games, especially in this tough league. But how I said, that’s what you have to do. In this game there were moments where we came really through, it was exactly how we wanted to do it. We passed the ball in the box, had exactly the players we wanted there and didn’t finish it off. If you score in a situation like that then everything changes, that’s how it is. So then you have to stay in the game and you lose momentum a little bit, that happens as well because here that’s a proper unit: players, manager, team, crowd [all] together, that feels like a wall that you play against and that’s not too easy. If you don’t score early or have five or six chances then you have to be really ready to work until the bitter end, and that’s what we did. So I really think we deserved it, but it was still of course lucky because of how the goal went in.
On how impressed he was by Sheffield United
I saw [the last] three games of theirs so that means I knew as much as I could. I am very impressed, to be honest. Very impressed. The way they play, the way they fight. I was a manager at Mainz and when any team came Mainz, we thought whatever they did nobody could stop us enjoying the riot. We went 1-0 [today] and the stadium was there, that was really good. They have a proper basis to be a really uncomfortable opponent, especially here. They have really good set-pieces that makes life really uncomfortable and they are good around throw-ins, so many good little things that give them plenty of chances to win a football game. Obviously the relationship between manager and players is good. Chris [Wilder] is quite animated; it is my first game against him and I thought I am loud, but he is really loud! The boys listened and they go for it. That was impressive. Of course, it is easier to enjoy when you’ve won the game but anyway, I am sure we will come here again.
On whether it was more important to grind out a 1-0 win than win 8-0
It is more important for sure: eight times 1-0 is more important than one time 8-0, let’s say it like this… but unfortunately they [Manchester City] don’t win only one game 8-0 and we all know that. If you give me the guarantee for it, I would take the next eight games [as 1-0 wins] but it is difficult. We are very critical of ourselves, but it is not the moment for being critical – you just have to respect the effort we put in because that was exactly what we had to do. We fought. As I said before the game, is it allowed that Sheffield United fight more than us? No. And they didn’t. Did they run more? No. That was important and then if you do that, then you can have the chance to deserve the three points and that’s what we did. Very often around goals, you can have a little bit of luck – but this time it looks like we needed extremely much luck because of that situation. I am completely fine with it. I know that we – and Chris [Wilder] is right – we can play better. I don’t think we had an ‘off day’ because today it was much more important that we are really ready to fight than ready to play our best football because your best football you play in moments, but fighting you do for the whole 95 minutes. That’s what we did and that’s how we deserved it.
source: liverpoolfc .com