The last time Liverpool was challenging for the title in November, during the 2013-14 season, they challenged for the title in May. The time before that, in 2008-09, they were challenging for the title in November and then still challenging for the title at the end of the season.
Both title challenges showed the fans that being near the top, while better than the alternative, doesn’t mean anything. Being top even doesn’t mean anything, not in November or December or January at least. It’s a message Jürgen Klopp wants to drive home to his players.
“Not think too much about it,” said the Liverpool manager when asked how he instructs his players to deal with being near the top of the table in November. “That will help. We are four or five hours a day here. Sometimes longer, sometimes less.
“If somebody is a character and wants to celebrate position one in November then he will not play in December anymore because I see it pretty quick. These things usually don’t happen. The players are here in this situation because their character is really good.”
Liverpool’s players and the fans have already seen how quickly the situation can change—and just how little it matters that you’re leading in November—after Chelsea leapfrogged into first place over the weekend as the Reds were held to a goalless draw with Southampton.
It’s better to be first than second and better to be in the running than not, but what matters is focusing on the next match and not getting carried away. Any getting carried away—any celebrating—will have to wait until the final table tells the full story of the season.
“It is not like they are surprised about success,” Klopp added. “It is not too difficult. Nothing has happened until now. It is better to be in the number one place but it is not really important in this moment. They know this already. Stay cool, play football, and see what happens.”