Belfast Telegraph

Confident Liverpool now a Klopp team, insists Adam Lallana

By Simon Hughes

As part of the build-up for tomorrow's Europa League final against Sevilla, Adam Lallana is detailing how Jurgen Klopp makes Liverpool's players believe the impossible can happen when a shadow cuts across the room and everyone present looks towards the tall figure at the window blocking the sun's rays.

Blinds are pulled back, a lock is turned and Klopp enters the conversation voluntarily.

"So, what are you doing here?" he enquires with the level of high enthusiasm you'd expect from him. "Speaking about you!" Lallana responds, causing Klopp to wheeze with laughter.

It has already transpired that Lallana keeps in touch with Maurico Pochettino, the Tottenham Hotspur manager - his former coach at Southampton.

"We are very good friends off the pitch now," Lallana explained. "I am delighted he has had a very good season and I wanted him to win the league. I am disappointed that he didn't."

The reply was to a question about the rumours linking Lallana with a summer switch to White Hart Lane, which he passed off as speculation.

Perhaps that clarifies Klopp's next move. "Ask him if he knows when Spurs start pre-season…"

"Too late, we have already spoken about that!" Lallana interrupts. Klopp: "I asked him and he said July 1!"

After being signed for £25m by Brendan Rodgers in 2014, Lallana was viewed as an expensive mistake until Klopp came along. Although he will not admit it, he must know that he will be a certain starter in Basel.

"It was a disappointing season for me last year and for the club, especially coming off the back of a season when Liverpool challenged for the title," Lallana says. "The last seven months have been very important for me. I feel as though I have established myself at Liverpool. I'm really enjoying it.

"He doesn't ask anything more of me that he does the other players. He demands hard work. He doesn't do passive."

Lallana started to think that Liverpool could win the Europa League after the 1-1 quarter-final first leg at Borussia Dortmund.

He reasons that overconfidence contributed towards Klopp's former club holding two seemingly unassailable leads in the second leg only for Liverpool to fight back and secure progression in injury-time, winning 4-3.

He says: "Now, I can't wait for Wednesday. Obviously Liverpool have been to big cup finals before but for myself there was just the Johnstone's Paint Trophy (with Southampton). So I am really looking forward to this."

Lallana also played in the League Cup final defeat to Manchester City in February, where his penalty in the shoot-out that decided the outcome was saved. He admits Liverpool did not meet performance expectations that day and his thoughts drift back to a message delivered by Klopp in the build-up.

"In the team meeting he said 'This will be the first of many finals we will have together'. The way he said it, you just believed," he adds. "Three months later we are in another final. It shows his confidence and self-belief and I think that rubs off on the lads.

"The way we are playing, regardless of changes, you see the same type of performance. You see a performance and think, 'Yes, that's a Klopp team'."

Belfast Telegraph


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