Andrew Robertson: Liverpool players must put aside emotions over Jurgen Klopp’s imminent exit

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Andy Robertson/Andy Robertson: Liverpool players must put aside emotions over Jurgen Klopp's exit
Andrew Robertson's return from injury is timely for Jurgen Klopp with several of his senior players unavailable for Wembley - Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

There is no middle ground for Liverpool during the Jurgen Klopp farewell tour that arrives at Wembley on Sunday.

History will record that they were either invigorated by the emotional impact of his long goodbye or incapacitated by it.

Nuance has taken a sabbatical from football far longer than that which Klopp intends to enjoy next season and possibly beyond. Forget the injuries which have decimated his squad in the build-up to the Carabao Cup final, a £500 million Chelsea squad, or the considerable skills of title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal.

When Klopp spoke pre-match about writing the final chapters of his reign, the authors chronicling this moment in Anfield history circled the day he announced his departure as the defining plot twist. Win a trophy or two, and his decision to inform the world will be the ultimate motivational lecture. Fail, and cynics will suggest that Liverpool ended up wanting it too much for their outgoing legendary coach.

Andrew Robertson understands that, which is why he wants to cast aside the sentimental side-effects of Klopp’s imminent exit and zone in on the cold, hard reality of collecting cups.

“We have to use it in two ways,” says the Scotland captain. “We have to park it to one side to a certain extent, while the fans can be emotional.

“But also, we want to give him a send-off. We know that the manager who has taken this club back to where it belongs is leaving in the summer — and we would like him to go with a big send-off.

“That gives us extra motivation. But we can’t get caught up in the emotion of it all. We’ve done that really well since the announcement. We have all got our heads around it.

“The last game of the season will be emotional for the manager and his staff and all the fans. But as players we’ve still got a job to do.”

Liverpool's Harvey Elliott

It seems everyone is getting caught up in the story of Klopp’s last dance. How else to explain Chelsea manager’s Mauricio Pochettino’s outlandish suggestions that referees must take care not to feel like guests at a Klopp leaving party?

Liverpool’s biggest problem on Sunday is the number of absent VIPs at the first of his good-bye bashes.

Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dominik Szoboszlai, Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota would have started at Wembley. Instead, Klopp has received a series of deflating RSVPs courtesy of his medical department.

As one of the few members of Klopp’s leadership group still standing that makes Robertson’s recent return from a dislocated shoulder particularly timely. When he looks around the dressing room on Sunday afternoon, he will see 20-year-old novices recast as veterans.

“Harvey [Elliott] was making his 100th appearance on Wednesday for the club, and all of a sudden he has become one of the more experienced players!” says Robertson.

“We have lost a lot of players but we have to go with the excitement of the young lads.”

Liverpool's Conor Bradley (right) is challenged by Chiedozie Ogbene of Luton Town/Andy Robertson: Liverpool players must put aside emotions over Jurgen Klopp's exit

The positive spin on that is Liverpool may benefit from the fearlessness of youth. No one epitomises that more than Conor Bradley, the Northern Irishman rapidly elevated from promising squad player to Kop idol.

“He will have an unbelievable career,” says Robertson. “Conor has shown he can do it at the highest level. He’s got a lot of hype around him, but now it’s shown he can do it every week.

“Before every game he plays and during training, that’s what I say to him — it’s all good being the new kid on the block, but with that comes expectation. And he’s dealt with that unbelievably well.

“His consistency so far has been top class and he has got to keep going like that. That’s what makes you a really, really good player. That’s what I’m trying to drill home with him, because the skill he has, the ability to play football, the athleticism is there to be seen.

“He has every attribute. He is a hard worker. He is a good lad. He listens to all the other lads and takes everything in his stride. He is always in the gym and working hard on the training ground.”

Klopp labelled Liverpool 2.0 last summer. Not even he expected a title-challenging team to emerge so soon. Now it is here — and they are on the threshold of another domestic trophy — only victory will nourish the romanticists awaiting an inspirational ending to Klopp’s book.

“Winning out won’t take the pressure off [giving Klopp the perfect departure] because when you play for this club there is pressure to win every tournament,” says Robertson.

“You feel that from the day you sign. Injuries or no injuries, Liverpool’s fans expect.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.