Jürgen Klopp has said Uefa underestimated Tuesday’s bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund when forcing his previous club to play their Champions League first-leg tie against Monaco less than 24 hours later.
European football’s governing body has been criticised for rescheduling the game for the day after three explosions struck the Dortmund team coach and put the defender Marc Bartra in hospital. Bartra will be fit again in about four weeks, the clubs said on Thursday.
Klopp, Dortmund’s former coach of seven years, admitted he was scared for the safety of friends and former players on hearing news of the attack while driving home from Liverpool’s training ground. He also said he was proud of the team’s reaction as they were defeated 3-2 by Monaco at Signal Iduna Park.
The Liverpool manager did not condemn Uefa’s decision outright, conceding the postponement had left the governing body in an awkward position, but believes the effect on Dortmund’s players was not taken into consideration.
“I’m pretty sure if some of the people who made the decision had been on the bus they would not have played the game but when you are not on the bus you cannot really imagine how it was exactly,” he said. “But the game is over, it is done. What can I say? They have a few days to try to learn to live with it.”
“Everyone can imagine it was a really difficult moment for me. I don’t know how often I have been in that hotel down the years. I know exactly where it is on that road and a lot of my friends were on the bus. I was on way home from Melwood and Matt [Liverpool’s press officer] called to tell me that something happened on the bus and I tried immediately to get some information.
“I was really concerned, scared for them [the players], scared for everyone. The first moment it looks like relief, not too serious, then more information arrived and it became more serious. I had contact with a few people but I didn’t want to bother them with my silly questions so I was waiting like all the rest of the world for more information.
“The last thing I thought about was the game. I watched it and I can 100% see both sides. It’s really difficult to find a date in this tight schedule because when would you want to play the game? But I think everyone would have understood if they said they did not want to play it, we find a solution next week or whatever we can do. I was really proud of Dortmund and how they handled it and created this atmosphere. The game was not too important but when they played they tried to be at their best.
“But I saw the faces of my former players after the game and I saw the shock in their eyes and that was really hard. It is a very serious thing. It will obviously take time to deal with it in a proper way.
Despite being deeply affected by the incident Klopp said it would have no effect on his work at Liverpool and preparations for Sunday’s visit to West Bromwich Albion.
He added: “I am like all the other football fans in the world but the only difference is I know all of them so it makes it more difficult for me. It is difficult to speak about but only because in the world a lot of things happen in this moment, a lot of really difficult-to-understand things, and as smart human beings we all think about this. But as long as we are not directly involved, life goes on.
“We should not let them affect our life. We have to carry on and we will carry on. We can concentrate on football at the weekend, we can concentrate on training but for the players involved it is a different situation. We think about them [Dortmund] of course but we have to carry on and that will happen.”
Liverpool are not expected to increase security around their team because they already have tight measures in place. “All of us do everything we can do,” said Klopp when asked whether he was concerned about security in English football. “Obviously there are a few people around who have new ideas and can you be prepared for that? Am I concerned? Not more than I was before, no. But in all parts of life we can only give our 100% and I’m sure everyone is doing this to give you the best security you can have. I am not concerned about this.”
Klopp, meanwhile, claims he has not decided on the Liverpool futures of Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Sturridge but believes the -England striker can still make an impact this season.
Sakho and Sturridge could leave Anfield this summer having respectively fallen foul of the manager’s disciplinary code and endured another injury-hit campaign. The France centre-back has flourished on loan at Crystal Palace and insisted this week he had not given up hope of reviving his Anfield career. That appears a forlorn prospect, with Klopp reluctant to be drawn on the £19m defender’s position.
The manager dismissed suggestions Palace have a deal in place to sign Sakho on a permanent basis this summer. “There is no clause in the loan contract with Crystal Palace,” he said. But as for the defender’s prospects of playing for Liverpool again, he added: “There is nothing to say because like all the plans we have for next season, we speak about them behind closed doors. When we have to say something about this we will say it.”
Injuries plus Klopp’s preference for a front three of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho have limited Sturridge to nine starts in all competitions this season. He returned as a substitute in last Saturday’s win at Stoke City and Klopp has backed the striker to end the campaign on a positive note.
Klopp said: “He had an impact when he came on against Stoke. We had to decide after the few [training] sessions he made: ‘How long should we force it or try to use his freshness when he is coming on?’ That is my decision at the end. I don’t think a second with the actual squad about the next season. Who will leave, we have never thought about it.”