Klopp set for first Premier League taste
London, October 16
Jurgen Klopp has challenged Liverpool's under-performing stars to rediscover their swagger when the new Reds boss gets his first taste of the Premier League against Tottenham on Saturday.
All eyes will be on Klopp's eagerly anticipated debut at White Hart Lane following the highly-regarded German's recent appointment as successor to the sacked Brendan Rodgers.
The charismatic 48-year-old's impressive track record at Borussia Dortmund has established him as one of Europe's top coaches and his arrival has rekindled enthusiasm among Liverpool fans who had grown disillusioned with Rodgers' trophyless reign.
But, with Liverpool slumping to 10th place after just one win in their last nine matches in all competitions, Klopp is well aware he faces a major rebuilding job before he can dream of emulating legendary Anfield managers like Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish.
"I have met two kinds of people in the last week: most of them say 'We'll win the league' and the other guys look at me like 'What have you done? Why are you here?'," Klopp said. "Both are not right in this moment. It is not interesting what people think about this."
While Klopp will steal most of the headlines, new Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce returns to the Premier League facing arguably the toughest challenge of his career. The second bottom Black Cats turned to Allardyce after Dick Advocaat quit, making him the first man to take charge of bitter north-east rivals Newcastle and Sunderland.
Allardyce, who left West Ham at the end of last season, has a well-earned reputation for helping clubs punch above their weight. But Sunderland have failed to win any of their first eight matches and defeat in Allardyce's debut at struggling West Bromwich Albion would be a hammer blow.
Remarkably, Jose Mourinho ranks among the managers most under pressure following Chelsea's woeful start to their English Premier League title defence. Feted as champions in May, the Blues are now languishing in 16th place with eight points following a 3-1 home defeat against Southampton.
That loss came amid reports of dressing room rifts and prompted Mourinho to make an impassioned defence of his credentials. But young Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has no doubts Mourinho is the man to get the champions back in the groove, starting against Aston Villa on Saturday. "We think he is the manager for Chelsea," Loftus-Cheek said of the squad.
Leaders Manchester City will host Bournemouth bolstered by captain Vincent Kompany's return after a five-game injury absence, but Manuel Pellegrini's side will be without star striker Sergio Aguero and key midfielder David Silva after both suffered knocks on international duties.
Second-placed Arsenal will face Watford for the first time in nine years when they travel to Vicarage Road, while third-placed Manchester United are up against Everton.