Embrace the pressure and the passion of being in a title race. That was Jürgen Klopp’s message to fans and players following a disappointing performance from his Reds against a hobbled Manchester United on Sunday.
Now, the question is how Liverpool’s players—and the fans, too—will respond in a mid-week league match at Anfield against Watford before they head across Stanley Park to take on local rivals Everton on the weekend.
“Of course there is pressure,” Klopp acknowledged. “From my point of view it is a very positive pressure, but I don’t have to play—I only sit here and say dumb things, so that’s easy. We all have to learn in these situations.
“The only way we can do it is with passion. This club, the heart and soul of this club, is passion. On Wednesday night we have another chance and then the derby, which is always a very emotional game so, again, passion.”
An evening game at Anfield with a chance to keep their place at the top of the table should be an emotional one. And a local derby match against Everton should be an emotional one. Yet United should have been one, too.
And in the end, it wasn’t. Instead, it felt an oddly lifeless affair, a choppy match broken up by injuries and Liverpool’s inability to adjust when United took on a more defensive stance and dared them to break them down.
Whatever pressures were involved on Sunday, at least based on the performance it didn’t seem as though Liverpool were especially passionate in their embrace of them. At the end of the day, though, they’re still well placed.
At the end of the day, they’re top of the table as the end of February nears. They’re on top, in a title race. There are far worse places to be, even if the performance and result against a depleted United on Sunday was disappointing.
“I get there has been a few too many draws in the last couple of games,” Klopp added. “Still, we are where we are so let’s go on. People can say Man City are playing better, but we have to get the points our own way.
“There are different ways to be successful and so far we are successful. That’s 100% true. Today was not brilliant but we have a point where we think we should have won, exactly the same as against Bayern.”