Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has a smile on his face again as Hong Kong havoc subsides
Liverpool manager looking his usual upbeat self again after coming through trials of torrential rain and stifling humidity at Premier League Asia Trophy
Jurgen Klopp is usually the one to turn on the charm but this time it is Hong Kong that has won him over.
The German was understandably a little testy during the first two days of Liverpool’s pre-season trip to the city for the Premier League Asia Trophy, as rain played havoc with his training schedule.
“To be honest with you, I don’t like to travel in pre-season,” was Klopp’s frank admission at Friday’s press conference in Wan Chai, ahead of Saturday’s final against Leicester City.
His eyes weary, he could barely muster a grin for selfies when he was mobbed by excited fans in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton on Monday morning, having stepped off a gruelling 13-hour flight from Manchester.
He would have much rather been going over training drills with his players at their Melwood training ground.
“I like somewhere with better conditions – somewhere like Liverpool where it’s already really good,” said Klopp. “But we have to travel. Now we’re here and it’s really nice – much better than what I thought when on the first day it was raining so much. I never saw it rain like that in my life, living in Germany.”
It was hardly the ideal preparation for Wednesday’s first match against Crystal Palace, with Klopp concerned over the safety of the Hong Kong Stadium pitch in such conditions.
But he admitted the freak weather, with an amber rain signal issued on Tuesday, forced him to get creative and the frown was soon turned upside down.
“You think you cannot train but we did, under the most difficult of circumstances,” he added. “I love it – I want to create difficult situations.
“Here, the weather created this circumstances with the rain, then the rain stopped and the heat came.
The players were outstanding. I was surprised how good they dealt with the circumstances.”
The Liverpool manager had a towel around his neck as he came in for Wednesday’s post-match press conference following the 2-0 win against Palace.
Klopp said at the time he had never sweated so much, but it appears the sunshine these last two days has brought his trademark smile back.
“I’m more than happy to be here, really,” he said. “My one concern was because of the rain that the pitch in the stadium was not good, but that was also really good. It is a really fantastic organised tournament.
“But a 14-hour flight, or just under – 13 hours and 50 minutes!” Klopp added, laughing. “Also not what you would usually do.
“Big clubs like Liverpool, you have to do it. We have to show up where our fans are, and make the compromise. It’s not perfect but we really make the best of it.”
A number of Leicester supporters have flown in for the tournament from Thailand, with the club popular in the region because of their Thai owners, while Crystal Palace have a small expat following in Hong Kong.
West Brom have also seen a small pocket of fans travel over from England, with the club arranging meet and greets with the players to thank them for their support.
But most of the 39,000 fans in Hong Kong Stadium on Wednesday were supporting Liverpool, with the South Stand in particular a sea of red replica shirts.
“When I came in, a few people told me you really only realise how big the club is when you go somewhere else and see,” said Klopp.
“For sure we didn’t disturb things, we didn’t play bad enough so people thought we have to choose another club.
“It’s a good experience for the players, it shows the size of the club which is important to understand. The pressure of being an LFC player is a positive pressure.
“Liverpool are one of few clubs where it’s possible to win every game, with the quality and power we have.
“Tony Pulis is putting on buses for supporters at West Brom training, but where we are going they are already there. They don’t have to take the bus, they live in the city. It shows the club is fantastic.”