Overconfidence is a trait that managers have been increasingly wary at displaying. This is particularly true on the higher stages, and when tasked with strong opponents.
In the Premier League, where even small sides have managed to slay giants, it isn’t hard to see why gaffers are careful on what they say. Then again, it is also rare to see them outright praising their opponents either.
While gracious words are sometimes used to woo prospective talents, praise is also an effective tool to play mind games with. However, the positive words that Jurgen Klopp had for Manchester United didn’t seem to contain any malice to them.
Speaking in the press conference ahead of his side’s weekend clash with rivals Manchester United, Klopp refused to underestimate the Red Devils on account of the sheer difference of spots between them in the Premier League table.
He instead chose to praise individual talents: “I’ve never been interested in the points of Manchester United. I’ve been aware of the criticism, but when we analyse and switch off the sound, there is a lot of quality, technique, strength.
“De Gea in the goal. Rashford and Lukaku, Lingard too is unbelievable. We don’t judge the points they have, just the quality.”
Interesting choice of players, particularly given Lukaku’s recent woes. Nevertheless, the mentality still seems clear – Klopp is not going to take his chances with this United side.
During their previous encounter in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho’s side pitched a decisive 4-1 victory over Fulham, arguably their best all season. But their swagger was short-lived, as Valencia held them to a 2-1 defeat in the Champions League mid-week.
This can have a mixed effect on the Red Devils, who may either be discouraged by the loss, or else realize the fact that defeating Liverpool at Anfield would all but ensure that the UCL game would be forgotten.