Wijnaldum: Klopp is fantastic – his training sessions are harder than games!
The Netherlands international has worked with big names throughout his career but says he has “never felt so strong” as he has under the German
Georginio Wijnaldum says Jurgen Klopp is the best coach he has worked with, stating that the Liverpool coach brings each of his players up a level.
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The German coach has impressed at Liverpool since replacing Brendan Rodgers in charge, turning the Reds into apparent Premier League title contenders this season.
Liverpool started 2017 in second place after a bright first half of the campaign, only for a disastrous start to the calendar year saw them dumped out of two domestic cups and drop to fifth place in the league after five games without a victory.
Wijnaldum sees no reason to blame his coach, though, insisting that the players are making progress under him, as opposed to regressing as results suggest.
“That he is,” the 26-year-old told Dutch newspaper AD when asked if he feels Klopp is the best coach he has had. “He’s so passionate. He makes players and teams better. Not one or two players, but really all of them.
“The way we play, with a lot of movement, always chasing the opponent to create space, high ball circulation, you need to be in top condition. Therefore, the training sessions are harder than the games. Literally every exercise we perform as if it happens in a game.”
The former PSV and Newcastle player also worked under ex-Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal, with Wijnaldum playing a role in Netherlands’ third place finish at the 2014 World Cup.
And the midfielder admits there are similarities between Klopp and Van Gaal.
“Van Gaal’s sessions were great,” he said. “But Klopp and I work together every day. They are both honest, they really love their players. You can feel it.
“Van Gaal was fantastic. During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he called me to him and said: ‘Gini, I want to put you in a controlling role to give a starting spot,’ he said. ‘Danny Blind says you can do it. I personally think you cannot’.
“I liked it, he said exactly what he thought. And you could also discuss things with him, he was never angry. That World Cup in Brazil was a unique experience. For the third place playoff against Brazil, he called me again: ‘It’s time to score again,’ he said. And it worked.”
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Liverpool’s disastrous run has all but eliminated them from the Premier League title race, as they sit 13 points behind leaders Chelsea. Wijnaldum, though, feels the team are still progressing and feels their hard work will ensure they are strong at the end of the campaign.
“I’ve never felt this strong. Sometimes we need to do a kilometre run in three minutes and 50 seconds. Immediately afterwards, we play small games and then immediately after that, a kilometre at the same pace. And that for the entire workout.
“Believe me, you’re tired, you know. But you can find enough to still remain strong in games. Klopp says something like that helps to get through the final stage of a competition.”