It was just not good enough (Swansea 1, Liverpool 0)

Could Liverpool build on the win against Man City to establish themselves as the ‘best of the rest’ this season?

No. They lost to the team at the bottom of the league.

For Klopp, in the first half, “It was just not good enough.”

“Offensively, tactically, it was not what we wanted to do.”


His criticism gives an insight into these tactics.

“We did not stretch Swansea; no pressure on centre halves; we were running with the ball, not passing; on the wings, we have to hold the line to create a half-space inside.”

“We gave the opposition a chance to score a goal.”

“OK, that is how we are.”

It is damning stuff, which he moderates by praising the second-half, “we show what we actually want to do. Much better, more pressure.” and by reminding himself to “not forget what these boys have done over the last weeks. We need to remember both.”

Given an opportunity to criticise Swansea’s approach, Klopp states, “It is not their (Swansea’s) job to make the make the game. It is our fault.”

“We have to strike back immediately, so that is what we will do.”

Leadership communication lesson

How to balance criticism with encouragement is a challenge all leaders will face in their communications. Klopp is in a highly pressured, emotional environment and being interviewed a few minutes after game, yet he is still able to recognise the need to “remember both.” Ensuring criticism is focused on the situation and not on the individual can be an important tactic to help  maintain relationships. It is the players implementation of the strategy, not their inherent ability, that Klopp takes aim for.


You have to take it (Man City 5, Liverpool 0)

In a post-match interview understandably dominated by the interpretation of the red card, Klopp still effectively communicates a number of messages.

He draws attention to the chances Liverpool created and describes the failure to take  these chances as “my biggest problem today”.

“We had all we needed to score some goals.”


Klopp’s analysis of the red card adds little to the existing debate. “It was unfortunate…it was an accident…in my opinion it was not a red card.”

More interesting are the additional reasons he gives for the subsequent performance. Believing that, “then you felt the intensity of the international week” and “we have young boys on the pitch, so there was not a lot of right decisions.”.

5-0 may be a an unpleasant score line, but Klopp contributes a memorable line as to how it should be remembered through his use of Chiasmus.

” Better one five-nil, than five one-nils”

He ends the interview by looking forward.

“It was a very bad one. That is life. You take what you get and make the best of it. That is what we will do.”

Leadership communication lesson

A significant set back will always mean there is more focus on what you say and what you do. An effective leader will recognise this as an opportunity and be very clear on how they want to use the additional attention. Alternatively, if the leader reacts emotionally to the set back, the opportunity can be lost and their leadership is likely to be placed under additional scrutiny.


One more game, one more time (West Ham 0, Liverpool 4)

A convincing win for Liverpool in a game they could not afford to lose.

For Klopp the game was “Fantastic, but difficult.”

“The start was not that good – we gave away easy balls.”

Klopp gives a tactical reason for the challenges of the first half.

“With our new system, we played the diamond, so our second post was completely free.”


Half-time provides Klopp with the opportunity to show the players “video analysis of 2 to 3 things” so they can understand the need to fill up the centre when playing with two wide strikers.

Klopp does though deflect praise for the impact of this decision, “It is not about the system, it is how the players use it.”

The rest of his interview is dedicated to managing expectation for the Middlesbrough game.

It is “One more game, one more time. We have a normal week. Recovery, preparation, we go against Middlesborough,”

Klopp uses Antithesis, putting together two opposite ideas in a sentence to achieve a contrasting effect:

“Middlesborough have nothing to lose, but we have everything to win”

Klopp’s focus is only on Liverpool.

“Counting points before you have them is really silly.”

“We will prepare ourselves and try to do our best.”

Leadership communication lesson

When to publicly take credit for a result is a challenge for many leaders. Take no credit and you may be unpleasantly surprised that others will take the same view. Take credit too publicly and you risk alienating the team you are dependent on. Klopp’s approach can be usefully adopted. When talking about success, look for a narrative that places your decisions at its heart, but focus on the excellence of your people. This will reassure your stakeholders and flatter your people.

It is not enough (Leicester 3, Liverpool 1)

A chastening night for Liverpool and for Klopp.

The best contribution from a Liverpool player was Carragher’s joke that the only thing the players practiced during their trip to La Manga was their drinking.

For Klopp, “It is not enough, for sure it is not enough, it is not even close to being enough”.

This emphasis builds nicely to the simplicity of his answer to the problem, “so we have to work”.


His criticism of the team is based on the gap between this performance and past performances.

A nice technique that has the effect of supporting his confidence and that of his team’s, while still allowing for a critique.

“It is hard to see what we usually do, and then to see this performance” and “We can play much better football and we have shown it already”.

Klopp then focuses on the future.

“We have a week to prepare and we have to show a reaction.” “You have to analyse, you have to show the boys and you have to react to it”.

“We all play for our future – we don’t want to make it too serious, but that is how it is”.

Leadership communication lesson

Controlling the tense of an interview is the best way to control its direction. When you are uncomfortable about something in the past, switching to the future tense is a good idea. It allows you to acknowledge the problem, but to focus on the solutions you have in place. By placing yourself at the heart of these solutions, this technique also gives you the opportunity to reinforce your authority.






This makes no sense (Liverpool 2 – Swansea 3)

Ahh… how to dispel the rancid smell of a home defeat to the worst team in the Premier League?

Well, we’ll start with the tried and trusted refusal to answer the question.

Interviewer: “Jurgen, can we go back to the start of the second half and Swansea take the game away, how did that happen?”

Klopp: “Can we go back to the second half? I don’t know, in the first half…..”.

Complete with shoulder shrugging and eyeball rolling, Klopp is now free to tell his own story of the first half.


A story of “4-5 moments like it should be”, a game that was “as we expected” and one in which “we knew we had to stay patient”. There were “3,4,5 chances to score a goal” and all that was lacking was “the final punch.”

Having re-established his – and his team’s competence – we can now analyse the goals; or not as the case may be.

“The first goal  I only saw it in the game…I have no idea how this happens ….the second goal…..these things happen.”

Clearer is Klopp’s pleasure at his own team’s goals.

It’s emphasised through his use of Anaphora, repeating his words at the beginning of successive clauses; “We deserved the first goal, we deserved the second goal.”

The ending – given the score line – is however one of confusion; “3rd goal, I have no explanation for how this happens, at the end one man is free in our box and this makes no sense.”


Leadership communication lesson

A leader will receive difficult questions in public. Klopp’s repetition of part of the question buys him some thinking time,  lulls the audience into an expectation that he will answer the question and his use of “I don’t know” is far less confrontational than a “no” would have been. Repeating parts of a question is a simple technique any leader can learn from.