Days after telling a reporter that they were not “serious” when he was asked about referees, Klopp was baffled and briefly lost for words when he fielded a bizarrely-worded suggestion that Liverpool’s injury problems meant they were doomed to lose in Amsterdam.
Klopp lost defensive lynchpin Virgil van Dijk to a long-term knee injury in Saturday’s bad-tempered draw with arch-rivals Everton, and new $35 million signing Thiago Alcantara will also be unavailable to him on Wednesday night after picking up a problem in the match.
The reporter, asking a question from an unnamed outlet, awkwardly began his line of enquiry by greeting the German: “Evening, Klopp.”
Repeating the continual theme of the pre-match press conference, the interviewer then declared: “You will be missing the creativity and passing accuracy of Thiago in midfield and the strength and aerial threat of the best center-back in the world.
“Playing against a quick and compact team like Ajax, do you think you stand a chance without Thiago and Virgil van Dijk?”
Weary-looking Klopp, who had smiled in bemusement during the inquisition, leaned back into his chair with an affected air of resignation before sarcastically replying: “No.”
“Oh my god,” added the former Champions League winner, pretending that the realization of defeat had just hit him.
“We still will try. I’m not sure if…are you a journalist? We will still give it a try.
“In the future, maybe we will miss Thiago much more, but so far we have played only once with him. Before that we played without him.
“He’s a world-class player, 100%, but we won some games without him.
“You realize, even in the questions, that people are just not interested in what we are doing. We will give it a proper try, I promise you. No excuses.”
The often-jovial Premier League winner has cut an increasingly more irritable figure during a month in which his formidable side have failed to win in three matches, including a shock 7-2 mauling at Aston Villa and a cup defeat at home to Arsenal on penalties.
“A lot of people speak before they think and then it’s already out there,” he told another reporter during the spiky press conference.
“We try, sometimes at least, to think before we do. The number of questions you ask…it’s obvious that you think we will struggle. I’m not even interested in proving you wrong.”
The officiating in the derby has come under heavy scrutiny after England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford escaped punishment for clattering into Van Dijk in a clumsy challenge that could keep the former Ballon d’Or nominee out for the rest of the season.
Everton midfielder Richarlison was sent off for the tackle that has temporarily ruled Thiago out of European contention, but Klopp was clearly keen to avoid repeatedly discussing the subject.
“I wouldn’t have spoken about it if you hadn’t asked me,” he told another journalist. “It’s because you keep all these stories up – not you personally, but you personally as well.
“You ask these questions and now you, again…everybody will judge us because we [are perceived to] not deal with it in the right way.”
Last week, Klopp was enraged by the arduous journeys his players had been required to make during the international break and the subsequent requests for comments he received during his press duties.
“If you want to be a serious journalist, write a piece about it,” he told one. “That’s how it is when you play on a Wednesday in Peru and a Saturday in Liverpool.
“What do you think about this? And what is FIFA doing about this? And how are they [helping] us bringing [players] back?”
The charismatic coach also clashed with Manchester United legend Roy Keane during a live television interview before Liverpool’s mini-slump began.
After the Reds beat Arsenal 3-1 at Anfield in the Premier League last month, Klopp took exception to studio pundit Keane describing some aspects of their play as “sloppy” and rebuked him for his remarks.
“He’s very sensitive, isn’t he?” asked Keane after his forthright chat with Klopp had finished. “Jesus.”