Jürgen Klopp has said missing out on the Premier League title and Champions League in May did not drive Liverpool “crazy” but can increase their motivation to win both major honours this season.
Liverpool start the new campaign at the King Power Stadium with Saturday’s Community Shield against Manchester City, who pipped them to the league by one point on the final day of last season. Klopp’s team lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid six days later. Liverpool did win the FA Cup and Carabao Cup and Klopp believes their success will ensure “everybody wants to hurt us” this term, although he is adamant there will be no hangover from how last season ended.
“That is sport,” the Liverpool manager said. “Both teams [Liverpool and City] play an incredibly high level and one thing makes the difference, like one goal in the Champions League final for instance. That is part of the deal. That can happen at the end of the season with the points tally. It didn’t turn me crazy and it didn’t turn the players crazy either. Because it is part of the deal. We can use it to get even more determined. There is no guarantee for any kind of results. We will not win one football game this season because we won it last season, not at all because it makes it even more difficult. Everybody wants to hurt us, to win against us, to get a point against us, so it will be really tough but we will give it a try.”
The Premier League champions have strengthened this summer with the signings of Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips but Klopp believes Liverpool, who have bought Darwin Núñez, Fábio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay, can also improve on a season that held ambitions of an unprecedented quadruple until the final week. “First of all, we spent money as well, we should not forget that,” he said. “We lost three first team players – Sadio [Mané], Divock [Origi], Taki [Minamino], very important players for us – and brought in three. We want to create space for our young boys from last year to step into the void.
“We had a big meeting where I told the boys what I expect from them next year. I want to use the togetherness we have, the atmosphere we have in the team and our experience to be better. We can grow closer together, we can be clearer in the things we do. The things we do are good. Can we do it better? Yes. Will that always lead to a better result? That is not possible because we won a lot of games but performance-wise we can definitely improve. We want to create a resilience and a fighting spirit.
“Being angry is important to fight against the outside world,” he added. “All these things we can do. We don’t know where it will lead us but we know it will improve us. We don’t have to reinvent ourselves, that is not necessary, but we can include new things here and there. That is what we are really working on.”
Liverpool will be without their first- and second-choice goalkeepers at the King Power Stadium with Alisson’s understudy, Caoimhín Kelleher, facing another two to three weeks on the sidelines. Adrián will deputise. Klopp says his squad may not be ready for the Community Shield due to a short pre-season and believes both teams need time to integrate their new big-name forwards. He explained: “We watched the Bayern game and it was not too different. Erling scored a Manchester City goal, from a square ball in the six-yard box, and so far it didn’t change a lot. They have the same problem we have – they are not used to Erling’s natural runs, just as we are not used to Darwin’s natural runs yet. When Darwin offers a run we give him the ball all the time, which is not helpful because often a guy who stretches the opponent is there to create space between the lines.
“I am pretty sure they will need time for Erling but that doesn’t mean he cannot score already like he did against Bayern. Most of the things look like last year, how they set up the press, how flexible they are in their own possession. It is good, very very good, but so far no real change is obvious.”