Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool’s season should not be judged solely on winning the Premier League and feels his team deserve more credit than has been bestowed so far.
Liverpool can equal their highest points tally after 12 games of a Premier League season with victory over Fulham on Sunday and another clean sheet would deliver the lowest tally of goals conceded – five – at the same stage.
Klopp accepts expectations are higher this season having reached the Champions League final in May and out-spent every other Premier League club in the summer transfer window. However, he believes a return of 27 points from a possible 33 has not generated the positivity it merits because of the absence of last season’s flowing football and the form of title rivals.
The Liverpool manager, who led the inquest into Tuesday’s Champions League defeat at Red Star Belgrade on the return to Melwood the following day, said: “It was more a general meeting about our situation and what we expect from ourselves. The season so far, point-wise, is really successful but it doesn’t feel like that for two reasons: the comparison with last year and the free-flowing football, and Man City, Chelsea and the others who are playing a very good season as well.
“You see it this week. We struggle in Belgrade and they [City] win 6-0. It’s a big gap. It feels a bit like that this season can only be a success if we become champion, in a year when our competitors are the champion of last year and the champion of two years ago. And a refreshed Arsenal and a more experienced Tottenham, and Man United turning around. That’s a really tough job. We go for everything. No problem with that, but we have to build on our situation to get better, more confidence. Tuesday was our massive knock, and now we have to react in the right way, not only on Sunday but in general.”
Klopp insists Liverpool have shown undoubted improvement this season, with the exception of the performances at Red Star and Napoli, without rediscovering the attacking flair of the last campaign.
“Everybody is searching for it,” he added. “All the different expectations are on the boys. We were in the Champions League final last year, and for the first 25 minutes we were the better team in the final. Doesn’t help a lot but that’s the last impression people have.
“We have to start again, and the other teams don’t get worse. A little moan about the situation is great but we are really ambitious. Whatever we can get, we want to take with all we have, but it’s a different situation – Champions League final, new signings settling in, it sounds like you automatically win the Champions League or the league. But the other teams don’t sleep.
“We have to see it in the right way, be positive and not the other way round. It’s like we win a game and we have to say sorry for not winning it in a City way or whatever. I get that, we have space for improvement, but there is no reason for any negative view.”