Jurgen Klopp compares Liverpool’s kids’ impact to ‘darts sensation’ Luke Littler

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp likened the instant impact of his academy players to that of darts player Luke Littler last month – but then asked for the youngsters to be given time to find their feet.

Jayden Danns scored his first two goals in only his third appearance after fellow 18-year-old Lewis Koumas had opened the scoring on debut as Southampton were beaten 3-0 to set up an FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester United.

As sons of former Premier League players Neil Danns, the ex-Crystal Palace midfielder, and Jason Koumas, who played for West Brom, the pair will have a lot of experience to call on but Klopp said they should be allowed to do that out of the spotlight.

Referencing Littler, who reached the World Darts Championship final at the age of 16, the German asked for perspective despite the youngsters’ key roles in a depleted side.

“It is little bit like the new darts sensation, it is fine for tonight. Tomorrow, leave the boys in the corner,” Klopp said.

“Everyone who is with us, we should have our moments, they will have more moments than we expect.

“All of it was obviously incredibly important. Against a Southampton team we would have had problems with anyway but in our situation we tried to give as much information as possible to them and we had to improve during the game.

“The first 15 minutes we were all over the place; we tried to press but the timing was horrendous and Southampton used that.

“We found a way into the game and the goal we scored was in a nearly perfect moment, it felt like a momentum change and then an exceptional finish from Lewis.

“We now had the momentum rather than Southampton and won a lot of high balls and scored, the play was special, the way we won the balls was special and something like that, as impossible as it seems, can happen.

“Maybe the people (fans) don’t forget it when the transfer window opens, don’t close the door (on young players) with 12 signings.”

On Danns, who came off the bench to score twice in 15 minutes to earn the man-of-the-match award, Klopp added: “Exceptional talent. Of course it is not natural that a boy 18, is as calm as you like. The second goal calm as you like.”

Saints boss Russell Martin was left to rue several missed chances in the opening 30 minutes in particular.

“I don’t think 3-0 is a fair reflection of the game as we should have been one or two up before they got close to a goal,” he said.

“The difference in the game is the quality of the finishing and their goalkeeper making some brilliant saves.

“If we are ever going to lose, then let’s do it being the team we want to be and I can’t ask any more from them tonight.

“I really enjoyed watching my team but I am really hurt for them and the result as I didn’t think we deserved that.”

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    Defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend saw Klopp’s side drop to third as Manchester City moved into a two-point lead at the top of the table.

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    Klopp remains positive about their chances despite recent failures and feels six wins could see them snatch the title from the grasp of their rivals.

    Although a Europa League exit on aggregate was disappointing there were positives to take from the game.

    Alexander-Arnold’s display, drifting infield to dictate play and even popping up in the centre-forward’s position on occasions in Bergamo, was one and a first clean sheet in 10 matches was another.

    With struggles up front continuing – Liverpool have scored only two goals in the opening 15 minutes in a league game this season – a more solid backline offers a better platform and that is why Klopp is optimistic.

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