Juergen Klopp encouraged by gritty Liverpool as Mane goal helps Reds grind to Crystal Palace win
Manager confirms there has been change in the club’s stance on Philippe Coutinho
Juergen Klopp praised Liverpool’s persistence as they did just enough to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Anfield thanks to a cool finish from Sadio Mane.
Liverpool fans were getting increasingly frustrated on Saturday as Klopp’s side struggled to break down Palace’s obdurate defence.
However, Senegal winger Mane finally made the difference, capitalising on a mistake by Luka Milivojevic to slot past the impressive Wayne Hennessey with 17 minutes to go.
The goal lifted the tension around Anfield as Liverpool secured their first Premier League win of the season following last weekend’s frustrating 3-3 draw at Watford.
Rather than dwell on his team’s lack of cutting edge, Liverpool manager Klopp was happy with the way his players stuck to their task.
“It was a hard job. I have no idea how much we had the ball but it was a lot,” he said.
“We had moments in the first half but had to be more patient because they were deep. We didn’t score but we didn’t give counter-attacks away.
“We defended brilliantly and we had the ball all of the time – it felt like 85 per cent possession. You need to make the right decisions and in the first half we didn’t. We could have finished more often than we did but had our moments.
“The second half was much better and I loved the goal we scored because it was not our best one-two in the game. It was a nice goal and we deserved it a lot.
“At 1-0 up we made the ball do the work. We could have closed the game earlier, we didn’t. It was an all inclusive package.”
The build-up to this encounter was dominated by more speculation about the future of 25-year-old Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who is wanted by Barcelona.
The La Liga giants offered £114 million ($146 million) for Coutinho on Friday, which Liverpool rejected, and club sources insist Klopp will not back down despite the player handing in a transfer request.
Coutinho only signed a new five-year contract in January and Klopp and Liverpool’s American owners remain insistent his future belongs on Merseyside.
Klopp had little further to say on the matter, apart from confirming that Coutinho’s back injury is still affecting his chances of selection and that he was still a Liverpool employee.
“There is nothing new on the injury side and if I had spoken to the owners I don’t think this is the situation where I should talk about it,” he said.
“As you can imagine, I’m kept informed about everything that happens at the club but nothing has changed.
“I don’t say there’s another bid, I just say nothing has changed.”
Palace have now lost their opening two matches but boss Frank de Boer remains confident his side can turn their form around if they remain as resilient as they did for large parts of this encounter.
“Of course Liverpool are always difficult to play against, especially at Anfield, to lose 1-0 is very disappointing because we worked so hard, we deserved more,” De Boer said.
“We were very disciplined, I think we frustrated them, they had to play around us and not between us, that’s again a very good compliment for the team but you have to reward yourself for that.
“At the end it’s all about the points and we are still with empty hands right now but again I am confident that we are going to get points very soon.”