herald

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Klopp dismisses talk of Anfield jitters as Liverpool Reds bid to go back top with win at Fulham

LOUD AND CLEAR: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says there’s no pressure on his title-chasers
LOUD AND CLEAR: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says there’s no pressure on his title-chasers

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists his players have not struggled with the pressure of a title race, and he does not expect rivals Manchester City to suffer either.

The Reds can return to the top with a two-point lead if they beat Fulham tomorrow, leaving Pep Guardiola's champions to play catch-up as they play Swansea in the FA Cup today.

But even with just eight Premier League matches left Klopp does not believe a win at Craven Cottage will exert that much pressure as he has seen first hand how his players have coped.

"Psychologically we didn't struggle because we are not ahead of them any more and it doesn't change," he said.

"Being ahead of City is not that important but we have a game at the weekend and we want to win that game.

"Obviously we are then ahead but it doesn't mean a lot. The game in hand for City is Manchester United, for sure not an easy one, but it is not decided at the weekend because of that.

"All the stories will be written but we will accept these stories because it would mean we would have won the game, which is difficult enough and the only thing we think about."

Klopp was speaking before the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals was made which pitted them against Porto, seen as the weakest side left in the competition.

City have drawn domestic opposition in Spurs, which puts a different perspective on their April schedule.

They have a run of games in which they play Spurs three times (once in the Premier League) and United in a fortnight. And with Liverpool's confidence boosted by their 3-1 midweek win at Bayern Munich, Klopp does not expect his side to let up.

"We have been in that situation for a while, it's not that we change our mood constantly, we are focused on the season," he said.

"The season means for us that we have to play two competitions - on Wednesday it was Champions League, from now on for a couple of weeks it's Premier League.

"We were always focused and we will stay focused. It's not that we were surprised about ourselves that we can beat Bayern. Stay in that mood and everything will be fine.

"We try to be as long as possible in the tunnel to really focus on the game and if there is something to celebrate at the end of the season we will be the first to celebrate, but until then let's play football."

With Liverpool still fighting on two fronts, Klopp's critics who say he has to win something after losing three finals during his reign will only get louder.

Not that the manager hears them.

"You can't imagine how little I'm interested in that. I never thought about myself in that way," he said.

"My job is to do everything I can to help the team that we can be as successful as possible. I'm not searching to be remembered in 50 years or whatever people speak about me.

"I am not interested in who judges me. God judges me one day and that is the only thing I am interested in. What other people say about me I couldn't be less interested."

Meanwhile, caretaker boss Scott Parker believes Fulham can defy Premier League history and stay up.

No club has ever recovered from being 13 points adrift of safety at this stage of a Premier League campaign.

A Carlos Tevez-inspired West Ham survived having been 10 points behind in 2006-07 but Fulham will have to eclipse that achievement to pull off their own great escape. Parker, Fulham's third manager of the season after Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri, appears to have an impossible task on his hands - one made harder by the fact he comes up against Liverpool and City in the next two games.

But Parker, 38, is hanging onto the belief he can turn things around and complete a miraculous job of stopping Fulham dropping straight back down to the Championship.

"I believe we can stay up," he said. "In this league I see the quality in this team but I know it will be very difficult.

"We have two tough games coming up and when you look at how many games we've won and how many we need to win I understand it will be very difficult.

"It's a cliche but while there are still points... it's possible.

"Someone texted me and named a few teams who have got out a situation like ours and you mentioned one there.''

Asked if the squad still felt they could stay up, Parker added: "I think they do. We've seen a big upturn in the players in the way they're training and I believe their standards have gone up tenfold.

"If we play the way we want we can cause an upset and we can get points.

"Playing Liverpool is a massive challenge, a team that are fighting for the championship, one full of individual quality. A fantastic team and a big challenge for us as a team but one we're looking forward to."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News