It’s finally over. Liverpool navigated massive fixture congestion, a glut of injuries to key players, and a run of ice cold finishing to somehow eke out a third place finish in the Premier League. Before taking some time of for some extremely well deserved rest and recuperation, Jurgen Klopp had one last post-match presser after defeating Crystal Palace 2-0.
Most of Klopp’s comments, of course, focused around Liverpool finishing in a Champion’s League qualification spot. And not just the fourth spot, but the third.
“It’s big, it’s big,” said Liverpool’s manager of said of his team’s third place finish. “If someone would have told me weeks ago – five, six, eight, 10 weeks ago – that we can finish the season in third, that was absolutely out of reach and felt impossible.”
Klopp also talked about how difficult this season was, especially with the injuries. In typical Klopp fashion, of course, he turned the response into a way to praise his players, especially Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips for fighting through injuries prior to the game as well as within the game.
“Even the good things when they happened this year didn’t feel too good very often because too many things around happened,” said Klopp. “The injuries was a subject that followed us through the whole year and that was really tough to take. Just as an example, we win 3-0 at Burnley, happy camp, everything fine, we go home and Rhys Williams needs to have a scan because he has a hamstring injury. He didn’t train for three days, but could play today and that was the lucky moment but nobody knew that until a few hours before the game. Today they [Williams and Nat Phillips] both get a cut, we had to fight through and the boys did that. Let’s talk about them: how they played is absolutely incredible. The steps they made this year, they should be really very proud of because it is absolutely a different level now, that’s really nice to be part of that. For the whole team, fighting through this and finishing third is the best lesson you can learn for life. I couldn’t be more happy that I was around when that happened again. From nowhere to the Champions League in five weeks is a massive achievement as I see it and I think that’s right.”
Klopp was also asked where he felt the finish this season raked among his other accomplishments among the Reds. This accomplishments, of course, include reaching the Europa League final, the Champions League final and losing, winning the Champions League, and then winning Liverpool’s first league title in 30 years (hmm, this guy seems kind of good at this managing thing).
“It ranks in the third position! Who cares?!” espoused the affable German. “It’s great, it’s absolutely great, it’s outstanding. From outside you cannot really understand because we are just Liverpool: we have to perform, we have to win, we have to become champion or whatever. It was not possible for us this year so you have to fight through and in the harder moments you can learn the most, in the harder moments you can show the most and we really stuck together all the time. There was no argument or whatever about different things, we just knew some things are tough [and] we have to improve. That’s true, we have to, but football is a game based on confidence and we had not a lot of opportunities to gain confidence. We were constantly sorting problems and that’s so nice to see that we could use the last five, six, seven weeks to give this season a proper turnaround. I’m really happy for the Champions League that they don’t have to play without us! So, we are in it, that will be great, can’t wait for that. Outstanding achievement from the boys. Man City has, rightly so, won the league, a great season and congratulations again. But because we cannot be champion that does not mean we have no targets and the target was then, from a specific point, European football. And that’s now Champions League, that’s really good.”
Good, indeed. Now go take some time off Jurgen. You deserve it.