Saunders backing Liverpool terriers to excel
By Tony Jimenez
COVENTRY, England (Reuters) - Manager Juergen Klopp will make sure Liverpool's ball-winning terriers are the Premier League's most efficient this season at dispossessing the opposition, according to former Anfield favourite Dean Saunders.
Saunders, who made 61 appearances for the five-times European champions in 1991 and 1992, has however criticised the German for trying to do too much in his first campaign in charge last season.
"I think this year you'll see Liverpool do well," the former Wales forward told Reuters in an interview while playing at this week's Farmfoods British Par-3 Golf Championship at Nailcote Hall near Coventry.
"Like teams like Leicester, Wales, Northern Ireland, they've got collective workrate and when you try to get a pressing game going like Klopp does, trying to get them to run more, be fitter than everybody, get the ball back quick, that takes time.
"In that situation you'll have two or three players who won't do it and sometimes you can't get them out, they might be the better players as well," added Saunders.
"But this season he'll have that team covering the ground, getting the ball back better than anybody else in the league because the fitness levels are going to be right up there."
Liverpool launch their new campaign with a tough trip to Arsenal on Aug. 14.
Saunders, who scored almost 200 goals in a nomadic career that also took in spells with Benfica, Aston Villa, Swansea City and Galatasaray among others, said former Borussia Dortmund boss Klopp made a misjudgement in his first term at Anfield.
"He made a mistake by trying to get the players fit during the season when he first got there and some got injured because it was different to what they had been doing before," explained the 52-year-old Welshman.
HARD TO BEAT
"They started getting hamstring injuries and such like but he's had pre-season with them now and in his first pre-season he can actually get them hitting the ground running, they'll be hard to beat when the campaign starts."
Saunders has had plenty of experience on the managerial side of football.
He has been in charge of a string of lower-league clubs, his most recent job ending when he parted company with third-tier Chesterfield last November.
Saunders, who won 75 caps for Wales between 1986-2001, vowed not to return to the dugout until he found the right club to work for.
"It's not about the team when you are a manager, it's about the owner," he added.
"If you sign for the right owner you've got a chance, if you sign for the wrong owner you've got no chance, so you have to make sure you pick the right owner, that's the secret.
"You need to trust the owner. You only need one when you're losing...that's when you find out how good they are," said Saunders.
(Editing by Toby Davis)