SIR ALEX FERGUSON hailed Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp as he joins the managers’ 1,000-game club.

Klopp reaches the landmark against Chelsea on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp set to take charge of his 1,000th game in management this weekend

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Jurgen Klopp set to take charge of his 1,000th game in management this weekendCredit: Getty
The German has been praised by Sir Alex Ferguson

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The German has been praised by Sir Alex FergusonCredit: Getty

United legend Fergie who oversaw 2,155 matches, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Jurgen Klopp to the LMA 1,000 club.

“He is undoubtedly one of the most gifted managers in world football.

“The many trophies he won confirm his status amongst football’s elite.”

Meanwhile, Klopp smiled a little, stroked his beard and declared: “Yeah, it’s really grey now.

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“I’m not sure if that’s because it’s just my age or working for Liverpool.”

Yet as he goes into his 1,000th game as a manager, the famously feisty German insisted his whiskers are all that have changed about him in the 22 years since he first took charge of Mainz 05 and kept the club in Bundesliga 2.

Instead he vowed he is still bristling for the challenge, and declared: “I was full of power when I first started — and I still am.”

The challenge he faces going into today’s crucial clash with Chelsea is the biggest since announcing himself as the Normal One of Anfield just over seven years ago.

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From being two games short of a history–making Quadruple last season, Klopp’s side now lie ninth and are ten points off a Champions League spot with a game in hand.

Klopp himself described the 3–0 loss to Brighton as the “low point” of his Kop career.

Having also lost 3–1 to Brentford in the league game before that Seagulls shock, he could become the first Reds manager since 1953 to ship three goals in three successive top-flight clashes if Graham Potter’s men also make hay against his creaking defence.

Add on the massive January spending by today’s opponents Chelsea, along with other huge outlays by Liverpool’s rivals and Klopp’s challenge only gets bigger.

He has only won six of his 19 clashes with the Stamford Bridge club since arriving on Merseyside in 2015, having taken a sabbatical after quitting his second club, Borussia Dortmund.

If Klopp, 55, is feeling the strain he is working hard to hide it.

In a deft dig at Chelsea’s trolley dash in the market, he said: “Interesting. I can’t explain it, I have no idea.

“But if the numbers are true then it’s impressive — Chelsea fix problems differently to us.

Klopp's first club was German side Mainz

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Klopp’s first club was German side MainzCredit: Getty

“I can’t see the spending of many clubs stopping, that is how it is these days.

“The job I do now is completely different to the one I did 22 years ago.

“When I went to Mainz with seven games to go we won six — had we lost one more we would have been in the same as League One here.

“Yet one thing has not changed — you always have to be nosey, be curious, look around the corner for solutions.

“And most important of all, be busy. You must always try to develop.

“Back then when I started out I never thought of these numbers — 1,000 games? A crazy number really.

“Not all of the days have been good but you keep trying to go in the right direction.

“I didn’t know all of that 22 years ago but I’ve learned the hard way.

Klopp has been feeling the strain recently

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Klopp has been feeling the strain recentlyCredit: Getty

“My job is not the most relaxing, it is not a job where you get a lot of holidays, but it’s the best job for me — I’m blessed.”

He did not feel very blessed after that 3-0 loss at Brighton, although there was this week’s relief of a 1–0 FA Cup third round replay victory against Wolves.

With four figures up in his managerial career, but with the chances of more silverware dropping dramatically this season, he is hoping a result here can re-motivate a squad that has been looking older and more tired than him.

Klopp knows the problems he is facing and has already signalled there must be major alterations come summer.

He stressed: “When you don’t take your chances and the opposition take the first of theirs — that’s a good sign for a bad period.

“So we have to start defending again at an incredibly high level and by doing that we will make more chances.”

Klopp, who expects to have striker Darwin Nunez, 23, back after a two–game injury absence, also knows luck has not been with him.

He said: “Look at Arsenal — they are doing incredibly well and well deserved.

Klopp is expecting Darwin Nunez to improve

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Klopp is expecting Darwin Nunez to improveCredit: Alamy

“Yet take five offensive players out because of injury like has happened to us?

“But after a really low point we showed against Wolves what can happen if we stick together.

“That’s what we have to build on now.

“It’s not just about style. We have to defend together.”

Ever the gegenpressing optimist, he is still looking to get on the front foot.

He added: “I know this might sound strange.

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“But this club is in a good position, it is sound, and looking ahead everything will be possible again.”

 LIVERPOOL (likely): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Matip, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, Salah, Nunez, Gakpo.



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