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Klopp and Milner were ready to rumble in Liverpool fight as Klavan says German coach would have 'gone all the way'

10:45 GMT+3 24/09/2021
James Milner Jurgen Klopp
The former Reds defender claims tension behind the scenes reached boiling point in 2017 when the manager and midfielder squared up

Jurgen Klopp and James Milner were once ready to trade blows, former Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan has revealed, with the Reds boss prepared to have "gone all the way just to prove his point".

Back in January 2017, following a 2-2 draw away at Sunderland that put another dent in their Premier League title challenge, pressure in the Anfield camp began to tell.

The German coach and the experienced England international's tempers boiled over, with a dressing room fight on the cards before the latter backed down.

What has been said?

Estonian centre-half Klavan, who spent two years at Liverpool between 2016 and 2018, has told the Betsafe Eesti Podcast: "The biggest pressure was around Christmas and at the beginning of January. One time, I don't remember who we played against. Maybe it was against Sunderland away.

"Klopp and James Milner almost started a physical fight. It was the period when there was Boxing Day in England and they almost started fighting but eventually Milner stepped back.

"We saw from his eyes that Klopp would have gone all the way just to prove his point. It was the most stressful time for him as well. He was under a lot of pressure.

"It was my first and Klopp's second year. What are you going to do? You're supposed to be a good coach. You are Jurgen Klopp who will make superstars of all players. The pressure started getting to him.

"It's not supposed to be easy, but if you don't deliver against a team like Sunderland, then you can forget about the places you had hoped for."

Is Klopp's passion a good thing?

Liverpool ended the 2016-17 campaign in fourth, but would go on to claim Champions League and Premier League crowns under Klopp in the years that followed.

Klavan is not surprised by the success enjoyed on Merseyside, with Klopp considered to be one of the best that he has worked under.

The 35-year-old added on Klopp's man-management skills and ability to deliver results: "What I didn't have with other coaches in team meetings is he never repeated himself. He always talked from a different angle or there was a slight joke in it.

"He sensed the player and the team so well. He knew when to say what. If he saw there were problems in the team, he could turn it around with a simple joke or vice versa, when the team didn't take it too seriously, then he showed them who's boss. That, for me, is his phenomenon. That he can read the team so well, and individually as well."

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