Saturday 7 December 2019

Klopp: Spurs final just a stage in rise of Reds

Liverpool boss insists they will win many trophies - whatever the result is tonight

Jurgen Klopp has done well to pick his players up after last year’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Jurgen Klopp has done well to pick his players up after last year’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp insists his  Liverpool team will remain at their relentless best until they reach a level which matches their targets.

The German aims to win his first trophy with the club he joined in October 2015 – and end a run of six successive  final defeats – with victory over Spurs in tonight’s Champions League final.

However, Klopp insists the game in Madrid is merely another stop on a much longer journey and not an ultimate destination, whatever the result this evening He rejects all the accusations levelled at him that, for all their promise and exciting football, until he wins a trophy his  Anfield reign cannot be called a success.

They came agonisingly close to a first league title since 1990 with a record runners-up points tally of 97 after being pipped by Manchester City and were well placed in last year’s Champions League final against Real

Madrid before two goalkeeping errors by Loris Karius and a Gareth Bale overhead kick took the game away from them.

The upward trajectory has continued by securing a second successive European final and Klopp is confident it will carry on until they are regularly competing for – and winning – trophies.

“It is a lot of motivation for Saturday but I don’t have to be sad to be motivated, it’s

nothing to do with that,” he said in reference to being pipped to the league title.

“We had a brilliant season, it’s not, ‘we’ve lost the league and now we go there (to


“Motivation is not like this, you don’t motivate always because something negative happens. It’s about what we can reach, what we can achieve.

“We will not stop until we are where we want to be, with all the setbacks in between and all that stuff.

“But now we stand here, we speak about a very positive season.”

Klopp is the first manager to take an English club to three finals in his first three  seasons of European competition, having also reached the 2016 Europa League final.

Only him, Bob Paisley, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson, Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafael Benitez have reached three or more European finals with English clubs. That should be evidence enough of the progress Klopp has made but there remains the nagging fact that he has not won a trophy since the 2014 German Super Cup.

But in Spurs counterpart Mauricio Pochettino, another who the critics argue needs to back up his obvious managerial talent with a first piece of silverware, Klopp has a willing ally.

The Argentinian said earlier this week managers should not be judged on how many trophies they have won.

His detractors’ obvious response is, ‘He would say that, wouldn’t he?’ but he found support from the man who will be standing in the opposite technical area at the Wanda Metropolitano.

“It is the outside world’s right to judge us by what we win and what we don’t win,” added Klopp.“Look back in 20 years and nobody will talk about our brilliant season unless another team comes close to 97 points.

“For me, as a person, it will stay forever. I will probably have a 20 or 30-year career as a manager and then it is easy to remember it.

“But to judge a coach about what is winning, it’s a silly thing, because we all have different circumstances, we have different teams, we have different clubs.

“We have to fight with different, or against different things. But nobody’s  really interested.

“Coaches, most of us, judge each other not on trophies, and not because most of us don’t win, only because we know about the job.

“I don’t say Pep Guardiola is the best – what I really think – because he constantly wins the league that he’s in. It’s the football they play, the things he’s doing, that’s really good.

“With wonderful resources, absolutely, but then having this clear stamp on a team that makes him, for me, the best coach in the world.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool midfielder Fabinho was something of a slow-burner following his summer arrival from Monaco but he believes arch-rivals Manchester United helped ignite his Anfield career.

The Brazilian did not start a match until the Carabao Cup defeat to Chelsea in late September and by the start of November had played just six times, four of which were short substitute appearances.

But from that point on he got a run in the team and December’s 3-1 victory over United, which ended Jose Mourinho’s reign at Old Trafford, was the game which proved to be the turning point.

Since then he has performed a pivotal role as the holding midfielder and put in his best display in the 4-0 Champions League semi-final, second-leg comeback against Barcelona.

“I knew it would be difficult and there would be times when I would be out of the team,” said Fabinho

“But it was never in doubt that I’d made the right choice.

“The two games in particular that stood out for me was the game against Arsenal. That’s when I really understood the speed of the Premier League and the attention to detail that is required.

‘‘In terms of building my confidence, the stand-out game was against Manchester United. It was probably one of the best of the season.

“I managed to get an assist for Sadio Mane’s opener and I really kept up with the rhythm and pace.’’

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