Sheffield United vs Liverpool: What is Jurgen Klopp expecting from Sheffield under new manager Chris Wilder?

Their 5-0 defeat to Burnley in the league at the weekend was the final game in charge of the club for Heckingbottom.

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp in a file photo; Credit: Twitter/@LFC
By Karthik Raman | Dec 6, 2023 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

When Liverpool visit Sheffield United for a mid-week contest, a lot of focus will be on the home team’s dugout. That is because former manager Chris Wilder has returned to Sheffield and has replaced Paul Heckingbottom. Keeping in mind Sheffield’s massive struggles this season, the managerial change was coming for a while now. Their 5-0 defeat to Burnley in the league at the weekend was the final game in charge of the club for Heckingbottom.

Even though Chris Wilder has not had long to get his team ready for the massive Premier League clash against Liverpool, there is optimism that the players could step up due to the new manager bounce. It is also not clear how Sheffield United will setup under Wilder for the important league match. Hence, the visiting manager Jurgen Klopp wants to mainly focus on his team’s performance instead of the opponent ahead of their trip to Bramall Lane.

Jurgen Klopp on Sheffield United’s approach

When asked about Sheffield United’s possible approach to the upcoming clash, Jurgen Klopp, quoted on the club’s website, said in his pre-match press conference, “How can I know that? I obviously remember the way Sheffield United played under Chris Wilder. Overlapping wing-backs, or underlapping wing-backs, stuff like this. That’s one part of it. He probably now has a press conference as well, I’m not sure, training after that, maybe another session tomorrow morning. First thing is we can probably bin our analysis! I was sitting yesterday in the office and somebody told me it might happen… but I watched it anyway. We will see. We have to focus on ourselves. I don’t think he will now change too much. What can he change in that short period?”

He added: “We don’t have to think too much about it. We really should just prepare for a football game. We play teams with five at the back, 5-3-2 and 5-4-1, quite frequently, to be honest. We have to make sure we give them a proper job to think about. I understand it’s always like that – a new manager coming in and now we start getting confused; we shouldn’t. Actually, we can play in different ways and as much I am happy for Chris that he’s back in a job there at his club, if he thinks about us then it must be, ‘Oh my God, they come from everywhere.’ That’s pretty much the thing, but the game will be played tomorrow, not today in the press conference.”

‘There will be a lot of passion now’

Sheffield are currently languishing at the bottom of the table, hence they would be giving their all to get the points, something Klopp is very much aware of. He was asked whether the home side will be really dangerous due to their need for points. “Yeah, of course, that’s how it is. Last week they would have said the same, because it was then matchday [14]. It’s the same, yes. I understand that. There will be a lot of passion now, Chris Wilder in the dugout and I’m pretty sure a great reception for him, all these kind of things. But in the end we have to play a football game, that’s it. Will the atmosphere be great? Yes, as long as we let it happen,” he stated.

Klopp added: “The only way you can calm down an atmosphere is always with your own football, otherwise you play [and it’s] just coming from everywhere pretty much. So we have to play a really good game, but that’s fair. Imagine we wouldn’t have to play a good game to win against Sheffield United – it’s the Premier League, it’s not possible. They will be really going for it, I’m 100 per cent sure. And we will as well, I’m 100 per cent sure about that. That’s the only thing I can have real influence in, the rest we will see. But the better we play, the more difficult it will be for Sheffield, and that’s the job we have to do.”

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