Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool supporters must be patient with Jurgen Klopp, says Phil Babb

By Cian Tracey

Phil Babb firmly believes Liverpool are on the up again under Jurgen Klopp but he has urged Reds supporters to be patient.

While Liverpool have made a decent start to the season, Babb isn't getting too carried away, especially ahead of this evening's trip to face a "rejuvenated" Chelsea.

Klopp's influence is beginning to show on Merseyside but his opposite number Antonio Conte has wasted little time in making his presence felt at Chelsea.

Klopp was shrewd in his summer transfer dealings, but other clubs around them invested heavily, and Babb reckons that Liverpool still need a couple of defensive-minded players if they are to realistically challenge for the title.

The competition for the top four is as tough as it has ever been and in Babb's view, Liverpool fans may have to accept that they may not break into it this season.

"When you ask how good Liverpool are, I would say 'look how good the other teams are and look how well they recruited during the summer'," said Babb.

"Liverpool are in our hearts and we want them to finish as high as possible but they have got stiff opposition. The two Manchester clubs. . . one of them is going to be the champions in my eyes.

"You've got a rejuvenated Chelsea, you've got Arsenal who will always be looking to get inside the top four. Then Spurs who are a different animal under (Mauricio) Pochettino.

"Then dark horses - I think Everton are going to get better and better. If Southampton finished sixth last season, what can he (Ronald Koeman) do with Everton?

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"You'd say Liverpool will be challenging for fourth or fifth but realistically, you're looking at sixth and seventh. That might happen this season.

"If Liverpool can keep their squad and add to it next season, then they might be title contenders."

Chelsea's resurgence has coincided with Diego Costa finding his goal-scoring touch again and as a former centre-half, Babb (left) suggested that defenders have figured out how to handle the volatile Spanish striker.

"He wouldn't get under my skin, that's the thing'" Babb insisted.

"You know what he's about. He's going to ruffle you and get in your face. But you can't do that this season. He will get more frustrated by not frustrating you.

"Listen, there's a little knee in the back of the knee. There's a little toe down his heel. You've got to use that to your advantage.

"Like cricket and sledging, there's plenty of trash talk on the football pitch as well. You can get into his head as much he wants to get into yours.

"The thing with Costa is, he will go up to the ref and antagonise the ref and you can't do that this season. He'll be picking up those cards all season long so you don't have to do that. Just don't get caught up in those mind games."

Phil Babb was speaking at the opening of Buskers on the Ball in Temple Bar

Irish Independent


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