Former Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan recalled a clash between veteran midfielder James Milner and manager Jurgen Klopp during his time at Anfield.
The 36-year-old highlighted how close the German came to a physical altercation with his vice-captain during the coach’s first full season in charge of the Anfield-based outfit in 2017.
“The biggest pressure was around Christmas and at the beginning of January,” the Estonian told the Betsafe Eesti podcast (via Metro).
“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.”
The centre-half enjoyed cult hero status during his two-year stay in Merseyside, eventually switching to the Serie A with Cagliari in the summer of 2018.
“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,” Klavan added.
“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.”
Having built such a close bond with his squad – not to mention possessing near-unrivalled man-management skills – it’s difficult to imagine a time where Klopp had come close to a full-blown disagreement with a player.
Given Milner’s generally mild-mannered temperament, it’s certainly surprising to hear of the Englishman’s involvement in the altercation.
Ultimately, however, it serves to further demonstrate just how challenging the task of getting the side back into the top four spots was, with pressure virtually guaranteed to manifest in some form or another.