Jurgen Klopp came bounding into the room full of energy and with a definite sunny glow that suggested he had very much enjoyed making the most of his break.
“It was good, funnily enough on the way back half the team were on the same plane,” he tells Sky Sports. “I had no contact with them for four days, I only saw Pep [Lijnders] as we played padel but besides that, I had no contact with any of them.
“You don’t want to have a four-week break or something like that in the middle of the season but after a very intense period, having these few days was very important. Now we’re back and ready to go again.”
Klopp’s holiday was a much-needed one for himself and his players as they continue to fight on four fronts this season. Top of the Premier League, into the Carabao Cup semi-finals, the fourth round of the FA Cup, and the knockout stages of the Europa League, there is everything still to play for over the next few months.
December’s schedule and injury list was “brutal,” says Klopp, whose side played eight games in total before beating Newcastle on New Year’s Day and overcoming Arsenal to avoid an FA Cup third-round replay. Their last fixture saw them win the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Fulham on January 10.
“I think you saw it when we won at Arsenal, it was a really important game to win, the celebrations were clear,” Klopp said.
“After the Fulham game I was in the dressing room and I said to the players: ‘Today is January 10 and you have the day off tomorrow’ – there was a big cheer. Then more cheers when I said January 12 and January 13. It’s the biggest bonus we can play for.”
Klopp: Squad overhaul was needed
While some of Liverpool’s players headed to the sun, others were scattered across the globe from Milan to Barcelona to New York. Although a break was necessary, Liverpool did not need it to rediscover their mojo. They have already found that again this campaign.
Their only Premier League defeat came at Tottenham back in September and as they prepare to travel to the south coast to take on Bournemouth this weekend, live on Sky Sports, Klopp has enjoyed what he’s seen so far.
“Look, when you say top of the table, cups, knockouts, it doesn’t mean anything right now but the quality in training is high and the confidence is there,” he says.
“After last year, you forget the same players with confidence look totally different players now. That is good.”
It feels a long time since Liverpool’s last visit to Bournemouth in March. A dismal day ended in a 1-0 defeat for Klopp’s side against a team with the worst defensive record in the Premier League at that point and just when Liverpool looked capable of mounting a top-four challenge having thumped Manchester United 7-0 in their previous match.
Although not the worst defeat from last season, it would certainly have contributed to the major overhaul Klopp and the club knew had to happen this summer.
“Sometimes you need these lows to appreciate the highs” the German reflects. “The only reaction to being in such a low hole is to try to find a way out, that is my job and that is the pressure we had.
“We had to put that right because that is not a situation we could stay in. It was a tough summer with difficult moments but transfer-wise, I am really happy with how it all worked out.
“The players we got in, you only really know them when they are here and then you think: ‘Oh wow, they are not just good footballers but great guys who fit in well too.”
Klopp: We’ve rebuilt the Liverpool way
It took Klopp five years to build his Liverpool squad and see off the challenge of Manchester City to become Premier League winners and he’s now in the process of attempting to do it all over again.
“I am not a genius,” he adds. “I can’t see things four months on from now, I just try to find the best solution and ideas and sometimes that works and sometimes it changes, but very quickly you have a very good feeling about this team and then you see if it works out and you move in the right direction.
“People think that means you can be champions. It’s not about that right now but we have a team that no one wants to play against. We still have to make big steps but it all goes in the right direction.”
In a week when the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules have hit the headlines, the pace of Liverpool’s overhaul is eye-catching. The summer signings of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch have rejuvenated the club and, as Klopp puts it, were completed the “Liverpool way”.
The business model at Anfield means they don’t have to worry about breaking those rules and it has instilled caution in Klopp when dealing in the transfer market.
“Transfers at Liverpool are different,” he says. “We have to think once, twice, three times, and then a fourth. We have to be very sure that it works out.
“I don’t think a big signing hasn’t worked out. Some people might say Darwin Nunez, but he is an exceptional player and I am so happy we have him and no one else has him.
“It was a difficult first year but he has already scored a decent amount of goals, maybe it is not enough because of all his chances, but I am absolutely happy.
“Players need time. Andy Robertson spent time on the bench when he joined. Fabinho took some time for us too. Others need time to settle, others get it straight away.
“Mo Salah scored in his first game and so did Virgil van Dijk – even though it wasn’t his job. It is a big challenge to get it right.
“All this heated discussion around transfers and Deadline Day, we have to stay calm and do the right thing and sometimes that is tricky because of the pressure from outside. If you feel that you panic buy.”
Liverpool’s decisive fortnight
Injuries that Klopp tries not to talk about or dwell on mean he is working with a tight squad going into another hugely significant fortnight.
It all starts with Bournemouth on Super Sunday before the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Fulham. Then there’s an FA Cup tie with Norwich before fixtures against Chelsea and another encounter with Arsenal on the first weekend of February.
It’s a fixture list that would make most forget they ever had that break. But not for Klopp and his players, who are relishing the chance to go again.
Watch Bournemouth vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event from 3.30pm on Super Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm.