Is there any news on Toby Alderweireld?
He has a muscular injury but not as big as we initially thought. He will have time to be out but not like a month which is what we immediately thought. So I would say between two and four weeks. But of course he is not playing tomorrow.
So bad but not as bad as could have been?
Yes of course bad news as he was playing his best football. He is an important player that we miss. But we have Davinson Sanchez and not for tomorrow, as he is not in the list, we have Joe Rodon. We fight with what we have.
What is your view of fans coming back inside stadium even though it is only up to 4,000?
First of all we have to see which tier is London and see how many fans will be at the home match. But looking at it from an economic perspective I don’t think there is good news at all for any club. But for the passion of the fans to be able to open the door to some of them for the happiness of every player, not just for the ones who play at home, but also the ones who play away from home is a good feeling.
The best of all is that probably it is the start of it and progressively we can go in a direction where we will have a situation close to normality as soon as possible.
Joe Rodon is not registered for the Europa League, but how has he been and he is ready to play in the next few weeks?
Yes I think he is ready to play. Of course he has not started a match in the Premier League. He played two little periods with us – Burnley and Manchester City. But the Championship is now a high level competition. It is not the best competition in Europe because the best is the Premier League. But it is much better than many countries’ Premier Leagues.
So to play regular in the Championship I believe that gives to a player of quality and there are many there. It gives them a certain level of football, of intensity and of experience that allows the players to be good players. So yes we have Davinson for tomorrow. But for Sunday we have play Davinson and Rodon which we are okay, we are happy.
You’ve got Matt Doherty back, how ready is he to play?
Yeah he’s back. By the legal and clinical point of view he’s ready. Is he ready to start a match? We don’t know. Honestly I still have some work to do with him to understand that, but to participate in the game, playing or being on the bench, it’s good, because in the Europa League we can have 12 players on the bench so 12 plus 11 makes 23 and it’s good to have him in the 23-man squad.
Chelsea won last night and are through in the Champions League with their feet up preparing for your match at the weekend, can you tell us whether your selection tomorrow will have Chelsea in mind as it’s become such a significant game?
Every game in the Premier League is important and since the moment that we were in the Europa League we knew we were to always play on the Thursday. In the Champions League they have the option of the Tuesday or Wednesday and in that case they were lucky this week that the draw gave them a Tuesday match that will allow them to prepare for the match on Sunday. Eventually I don’t know if they gave them a day off but plenty of time to work.
That’s not a new thing. That happens all the time. We knew that since we went into the Europa League so we’re not going to complain about it.
The next match is not even Chelsea, it’s Ludogorets and we of course already have a defeat in the group stage and we need to win the match tomorrow.We have to focus on that match and then after that we will focus on Chelsea.
So will you continue with your policy to play strong sides? Can you afford to play Harry Kane and Eric Dier, your first choice spine?
I will not play the same team I played against Manchester City. Of course I’m not going to. There are different reasons for that. Of course the accumulation of matches is a problem. The Toby injury has a relation with an accumulation of minutes.
It’s also about players that work a lot. They’re not starting matches and they deserve to start. Ben Davies has to start. He didn’t play Sunday, he plays tomorrow.
Just as an example, good players, good professionals. Working very hard for the team. I consider them first options. So between Sergio and Ben, they are first options. So of course after Sergio played on Sunday it’s normal that Ben is going to play tomorrow.
When you’re talking about centre-backs you haven’t been mentioning Japhet Tanganga, is that because he’s not fully fit or that you see him as a full-back?
For me he’s a full-back. Can he play centre-back? Yes he can, of course he can, and he will if we need and we will need. He can play centre-back, but for me in the context of what high level football is and especially Premier League is, I see him more as a multi-functional defensive player but I see him more as a full-back.
How close are you to having Erik Lamela back?
Not this week. Not this week. Not tomorrow or Sunday, I think I can say that. I would be very, very surprised if he said he was able to play Sunday so I will say not this week.
With fixture congestion, will Jurgen Klopp saying what he has make a difference?
Klopp arrived by 2014 or 15, I arrived in 2004 so what he knows from 2014-15, I know since 2004 and nothing changes. We have to adapt to it and that’s the way it is.
Are these Covid times forcing change? You have two squads now?
I cannot say that. I say that we have to try to win every match and try to play also a competitive team with quality but two squads for two different competitions? No. One squad for two, three or four competitions. Using the players according to our feelings, their moments, the needs of the team.
Sometimes we have problems and when we have problems, of course there’s an accumulation of problems. It happened to us last season and of course it was without Covid. When you start having the problem with Harry Kane, Sonny was playing every match. Then we have a problem with Sonny and Lucas was playing every game with Bergwijn. We didn’t have any other players, so Lucas and Bergwijn had to play and play and play. Then Bergwijn had another problem.
These are moments that we have to try to survive like we did survive last season and manage to finish the season in a position that was a target for us. I think the big clubs, and of course, Liverpool is a big club with a big squad full of top players, some are injured, some are recovering. When another one gets injured, another one comes back. The big clubs can normally cope with the situation.
Does your Instagram shows the connection you have with the players is growing and you’re enjoying the job more than previously?
No, no, no. I don’t think the post after Antwerp celebrated anything. The posts are what it is. I posted ten minutes after the game against Antwerp, which was awful and a defeat. I didn’t post after Man City, a very good victory and we were all happy. I just try to open our world to the world. People many times, they love the insight, what they don’t see. The success of that Amazon series was exactly that everything was open. It’s good fun for people.
A big formula, one team, let’s say Red Bull, the pilots, the boss, I would love to know how things work inside. I think Instagram in this case is an opportunity for little things that don’t hurt anyone, is not a problem at all and sometimes it’s funny. Other times it’s not funny at all when you post because you’re upset with a bad result and bad performance. It’s just little things for the people to know our world.
In the case of this last one, it’s just a simple thing that sometimes happens. The players want a Spanish ham and it’s quite expensive. Who pays and who doesn’t pay? Reguilon has to pay because he’s Spanish. OK, if we win I pay. That’s it. Of course the players were happy that I had to pay for the ham.
The FIFA Best coach awards are out. Does that motivate you to get back on the list? Should Kane and Son be aiming to get on next world player list?
I don’t want to say it’s politics because I know well and have a very good professional relationship with FIFA and also UEFA has institutions, and (with) the people there.
So I don’t want to say it’s politics but I want to say it has a lot to do with certain club power in the media, it has to do a lot with the people that cares more about it and works better behind the scenes to try to get in there. So I don’t give much credit to it.
Do you know of the problems with Ludogorets and Covid, and will this make the game easier for you?
According to my information, it’s not true. According to my information, the problems that they had were immediately after the game we played there. They had only one more match after that which they won in Sofia, and after that during the international period they managed to recover the players.
So the team that comes tomorrow for the game I believe that only two players that played against us are not playing. The Romanian striker that scored against us and the African central midfielder.
Apart from that, all the other nine players are in the list and ready to play. And they recovered an important attacking player that didn’t play in the first game and now he’s ready to play. So I don’t understand the news because there is a big contradiction between the news and the official information that we have.
It’s a team with zero points so of course they will try everything to get a positive result here, and if we don’t take it seriously we know what is going to happen because it happened to us in Antwerp and we spoke about it this morning with the players.
It’s a dangerous group, it’s a group where you will need a lot of points to qualify. It’s not one of these groups were sometimes eight or nine points is enough to qualify. So we need results, we have three more matches to play, and if possible tomorrow we need three points.