Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp says his talismanic forward, Mohammed Salah, deservedly bagged the Premier League Player of the Month for February, and has urged the Egypt international to continue with his brilliant form for the club.
The Liverpool winger who has scored 33 goals so far this season beat the likes of Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard and Mousa Dembele to the February award.
It was the second Player of the Month award for Salah this season.
“He deserved it so all good. So far a good season, but hopefully, it continues. Congratulations Mo,” Klopp states during his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of Liverpool’s clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“His attitude, his character, the boys around him, there are not obvious difficult moments.There were for sure some games when he wasn’t at his top level and somebody else stepped up. It helps, good for us and good for him.”
Klopp adds that he will try to improve Salah and Saido Mane and other African players in his rank to the level of players competing for Ballon d’Or.
“Whatever we can do to help, we try to [concerning the Ballon d’Or]. African players are no different to other players in the world. I look for the football skills.
“I had a problem with the African Cup. That means they are out for four, five, six games. I didn’t like that. I’m a fan of the new decision to do it in the summer. It’ll open the market for African players.
“If we can help to bring Mo and Sadio closer to the Balon d’Or, we will try.”
On his side’s clash against Manchester United on Saturday at Old Trafford, Klopp says he is looking forward to an interesting game.
“You have to bring the right things on the pitch. Counter-pressing is unbelievably important, quick decision making, attitud,” he offers.
“A lot of things. It’s easy to sit at home and think Liverpool score like they want and United didn’t score that often, so that’s the thing, but there are reasons why they have two points more than us. We want a result, that’s the only thing we go there for.
“When we have the ball we have to play football, they are physically very strong.If we can win the ball, we can use the space, it’ll help of course, it’s not an attacking team against a defending team.
“I don’t think this game has any extra reasons to be bigger, it’s the biggest game I can imagine.We need to be at 100 percent, even if not a few more. We are against something, that’s the plan.
“It’s a good moment to go there, but still an unbelievably difficult game.They are at home, we would say it is an advantage at Anfield, so they have the advantage. A very experienced team and manager.
“I can’t really remember that game. I know De Gea made a few saves. We didn’t play bad. We were more offensive than Manchester, but not too offensive.
“The last game is not in my mind. Two different teams now. It’s really rare I use the last game for preparation, too much time between. It’s football, they’ll defend whenever they want to defend, we have to try and create something. If they attack, we’ll need all our legs to defend these situations.
“They (United) had a very good result without a good game vs Crystal Palace. The comeback will for sure be a big boost. We face them and it’s really interesting. We cannot see it like this (second vs third to decide who finishes second). If we win, only one ahead, it’s not a big difference.
“We have to concentrate on the game.We cannot think about it. If we really want to get there and take three points, I don’t have to talk about the table.
“The boys know. Now we have to show them the football side of the game.”
The German gaffer hints that he is wary of the United’s attack.
“When United will attack, I hope all my players are defending.If somebody says that is parking the bus, then no problem,” Klopp states
“Over 90 minutes, we want to bring our football on the pitch as well.That’s the plan for this game. I don’t think there will be a lot of space. It’ll be a big fight.Hopefully at the end with a positive result for us.
“I have no problem with defending, I know how the situation is at the moment.They play a specific kind of football, we play a specific kind of football, but it’s all about winning.”
Klopp is also delighted Liverpool’s qualification for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
The Reds edged FC Port 5-0 on aggregate in the Round of 16 of the competition.
”Going to the next round is a fantastic achievement. Everybody saw Tottenham vs Juventus, it looks like you can buy everything, but you cannot buy experience.
“We made our experience thank God in a positive way. It’s really big for us. I don’t think we need to give an extra bit. The record is quite good vs the big six, but that didn’t help us when we lost to Manchester City, since then we learned a lot.
“We are in a different situation. We are a different team to the start of the season, we leaned a lot, now we have to use that.
“It’s a very difficult game, who can go there and think three points are already in the pocket, it doesn’t work. Let’s try and use this chance.”