In Jürgen Klopp’s first full season in charge, it’s been a largely successful season for him and Liverpool in 2016/17.
Speaking to the official club website, Jürgen Klopp gave his honest and frank thoughts about the previous campaign. He started with the bi-polar nature of the Reds’ opening games, away at Arsenal and Burnley. After an impressive 4-3 win at the Emirates to a 2-0 defeat at Turf Moor, Klopp recalled the feeling of both games.
Klopp: “You win at Arsenal, it was outstanding, then you play Burnley, you lose it and nobody said it was a slip. Immediately everybody said, ‘That always happens to us’, [we] win such a big game and lose against a smaller side. To lose is already hard enough but to have the feeling ‘That’s our DNA’, it’s really sad, how can we change this?”
The boss also discussed a talking point that had been brought up numerous times over the course of the season, Liverpool’s ‘Plan B’ option, or lack-thereof. He talked about why this Liverpool side don’t need such a plan.
Klopp: “People said when we didn’t beat the weaker teams that I have no Plan B. I have absolutely no problem, people can say what they want, but it’s not about Plan B. We know exactly what to do, we did it so often.
“When we did it, it’s normal, when we didn’t do it, it’s like we’ll never learn it! We scored the fourth most, only a few teams scored more than we did. It was all good.”
Liverpool went on a 15 game unbeaten run in all competitions, a run that saw Liverpool top the table in the run upto Christmas. But injuries to key players and international duty saw that good work unravel in January. But Klopp was sure to not let it affect his players and wanted to turn those negative experiences into good moments going forward.
Klopp: “In life, you cannot ignore the negative things that have happened. If you can change them, change them; if you can’t change them, ignore them. That’s how it is.
“You cannot go [back] so it’s not about negative experiences, we all have them, it’s all about the reaction.”
“That’s life and that’s football – how you react on a specific case. Your normal day: if you get up in the morning and the first hour is bad, does that mean go back to bed? No, it means let’s try another one. It looks like it makes it more important because we cannot hide but, in the end, we have to do the same things as anyone else, we have to react on things in the best way.”
Nearer the end of the season, Liverpool were still in with a good shout of a top four finish. Results around them were putting the pressure massively on the Reds, but the boss wasn’t letting that affect him or the players.
Klopp: “The last three or four weeks were difficult because we were always five/six/seven points ahead but [Arsenal and Manchester United] had all the games in hand.
“Watching it and not hoping that they lose is, for a human being, quite difficult. I don’t want that somebody loses but in this moment we can say, ‘Come on, the other team win’!”
He even tried to release the pressure further by not watching the games with teams in a similar position. Klopp believed that not watching football and focusing on Liverpool solely was key.
Klopp: “We needed to learn not to watch football in the week and hope that something happened. We had to stick to what we knew – playing football, winning the games, and seeing what it led us to.”
It all came down to the final home game of the season, at home to already relegated Middlesbrough. With the score still 0-0 and Arsenal and Man City winning, the nerves could be felt all around Anfield. But on the stroke of half time, all that changed when Gini Wijnaldum slammed home at the Kop end. A moment that was a huge relief for the boss.
Klopp: “I can’t 100 per cent say exactly what I felt in this moment because if I could judge how I celebrated then it would be completely different.
“I saw the game back again and I saw my celebration obviously and I would say it was a big relief.
“[The goal] was the moment when you see that’s the final step we had to do this season, to open this game, because it was clear then with the qualities of the boys that it would be done. It was a big moment.”
Looking forward to next season, Klopp believes that the side can make further strides in not just qualifying for the Champions League, but competing for trophies also.
Klopp: “I know that we are good already but we have so much space to improve – I love it. We will play good football on the good days, on the less good days we will still fight for the result. I really feel positive.
“I’m really optimistic for our future, not because I’m crazy but only because I know what we have, I know what we will get, I know what we can get, and I know that we really have a super bunch of people – knowledge, character – not just the players, all around.”
Written by Martin Turner