Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp hailed his team for their “unbelievable season” but said they would need to be “very, very close to perfection” if they were to go one better next term and beat Manchester City to the Premier League title.
Liverpool ended the campaign with a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on Sunday but with City winning 4-1 at Brighton & Hove Albion, Klopp’s side’s 97-point haul was only being good enough for runners-up spot.
The German said his team, beaten only once in the Premier League campaign, would be ready for another challenge next season but added that he did not expect any drop off from Abu-Dhabi-owned City.
“As long as City are around with the quality they have, the power, the financial power and that stuff, then it’s not any other team that will pass them easily, that’s clear,” said Klopp.
“So, we need to be very, very, close to perfection to win the Premier League as long as this is the case,” he added.
Klopp, who took over at Liverpool in 2015, said he was sure that this season, for all his team’s progress, was by no means the best it could get for the Merseyside club.
“We have made unbelievable big steps and I expect more to come, what that means in the end I don’t know,” he said.
“If you see, whatever happens to you in life, as the only chance you will ever have, I feel a bit for you to be honest, because there is a lot to come, a lot of years, it is all about what you do with it,” added Klopp.
Liverpool have not been English champions in the Premier League era, which began in 1992-93, with their last triumph coming back in 1990 in the days of the old ‘First Division’.
“People will tell us now that it is 30 years or whatever but they have bigger problems to be honest, the people who say that, or the clubs who say that. We will go again,” said Klopp.
He suggested this was the first real title bid the Anfield club had made since he took charge and noted that as well as their points tally they had also fought to reach the Champions League final, where they face Tottenham Hotspur on June 1.
“This year we tried for the first time (to win the Premier League title) and I really think that it was quite impressive for the first time. On this road, to qualify for the finals of the Champions League, it is pretty special. This team is one of the best that ever played for Liverpool, 100%, but we play in a league with other very good teams, that is what we must accept, and we do accept no problem. We will go again, but give me a few hours to get over that today,” he added.
“We feel it. It is disappointing, it is not a wonderful moment but we (will) have enough time to see and feel how brilliant the season was – it was brilliant, 97 points is incredible and only because City are there it is not enough. In any other country it would have been easily enough, but that is how it is, no problem, that is the competition we are in, it is not the competition of 30, 20, 10 years ago, it is completely different.”
Liverpool will learn from title race heartbreak: Robertson
Liverpool will learn from their mistakes after coming agonisingly close to winning the Premier League title and hope to come back stronger next season, defender Andy Robertson has said. The Merseyside club ended their league campaign one point behind champions Manchester City, who sealed a second successive title by coming from a goal down to beat Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.
Liverpool finished with 97 points, the highest points tally of any team to finish runners-up in English top-flight history, and lost only one league game all season — at City in January.
“We’ve not done much wrong, but we’ll learn from it,” Robertson told Liverpool’s website. “The good thing is that City know we’re here now and we’re not going anywhere. This squad will stay together and we need to put everything into next season. Nobody has lost this Premier League, it’s been won — and it’s been won by an unbelievable team that’s set the standard. We kept up with them but we just fell short.”
The disappointment of losing out on the title has been somewhat eased by Liverpool reaching their second successive Champions League final.
The club could still end their season on a high by beating Tottenham Hotspur in the Madrid showpiece on June 1 to claim their sixth European Cup.
“We’re in the final now and we need to take that one step further that we didn’t take last season,” Robertson said, referring to Liverpool’s defeat by Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League final. “If we can do it then it’ll be a hell of a season. We know how hard that game against Tottenham is going to be.”