When Jurgen Klopp sat down for his first press conference as Liverpool manager in 2015, he spoke about creating a new story and giving fans a reason to believe again.
“I’m the normal one,” he said at the time. Seven-and-a-half years and six major trophies later, most Liverpool supporters would say that’s a modest self-description.
Nobody can argue the German hasn’t delivered, but even he did not think he’d win every piece of silverware available.
Monday 17th April 7:00pm
Kick off 8:00pm
“No, of course I didn’t expect it,” he exclusively tells Sky Sports ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Leeds on Monday Night Football.
“I was hoping for it, and we could have actually won more, which is really strange. But no, I didn’t really think about it that much.
“When you come in new to a club, you need success and steps in the right direction to buy time and to develop things properly and that’s what we did. But no, I didn’t expect it.”
Klopp: Away form is poor, but we’ve played well at times
After coming close to leading Liverpool to an unprecedented quadruple last season, Klopp has watched his side experience a dramatic regression this term.
Sitting eighth in the Premier League, Liverpool are 12 points away from the top four with nine games remaining and have lost more league games in 2023 than they did throughout the whole of 2022 – the year they won two trophies and were runners-up in the Champions League and Premier League.
Their away form has been a huge reason for that drop-off. Having won 10 of 15 away matches at this stage last season, they’ve managed just three victories on the road this time around. An average of 0.87 points per away game is their lowest since the 1992/93 campaign.
“What I would say to that is we’ve had a few really good games this season,” says Klopp from Liverpool’s Kirkby training ground.
“We’ve had a lot of good games in the Champions League and a few really good ones in the Premier League. They’ve mainly been at home but we’ve even had good away games, it’s just in some of them we didn’t. ‘t get results.
“We had a good away game at Tottenham and won there. We had a really good away game at Arsenal and lost it in the most awkward circumstances. That’s how it started and then we lost form. That’s the truth.
“At home, we could still squeeze results out without playing our best football. Of course, we also have the support of our fans, so that’s an obvious difference, but apart from that we have to play better football in general to get consistency.
“If you have consistency, then the difference between away form and home form is not as big as it looks this year. We never had this issue in all our successful seasons. We had an impressive away record and that’s what you need.”
Klopp: We can’t rely on Anfield to generate results
A 9-0 thrashing of Bournemouth in August and a 7-0 win over Manchester United in March have proven Liverpool are still capable of producing some spectacular results and performances at Anfield.
The Reds have only lost once at home in the Premier League this season and last weekend’s impressive comeback against leaders Arsenal again reminded Klopp what is achievable in front of their own supporters.
“It’s a start that we have to build on for next season, but we can’t rely on it,” he says.
“Of course, it’s encouraging but it’s not that I think ‘Okay, that part is sorted, we can focus on the away form’. We know we have to work on our football in general and the way we set things up.
“The way we defend, that must be much clearer. We also have to work on the way we attack and how we control games. It’s a big job, but it’s something I’m looking forward to.
“This year’s been tough and it’s been a really long season for us, because I have to talk about these things every week. Not only every week, a few weeks ago it was every three days and that makes life really not enjoyable.
“The problems are not always that obvious, but it’s still clear where they’re coming from. Then you want to work on it but three days later you have a game, so it’s still not sorted. Then you talk about it and go again .
“So it’s a long and tough season, but we are in it and the second half against Arsenal (when Liverpool came from two goals down to draw 22 with the leaders at Anfield) especially gave us a real boost and showed it’s still in us, so let’s build on that.”
Klopp: Motivation is not my problem
Klopp is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League and will extend his stay at Anfield to almost 11 years if he sees out the remainder of his current contract.
In a season that has seen a record-breaking 13 managerial changes in the Premier League – three more than any other campaign – he assured Liverpool supporters he still has a burning desire to succeed despite his team’s struggles on the pitch.
“Yes, I am still motivated,” he says defiantly. “Maybe even more, because now I know everybody here and I feel even more responsible for everything.
“I’ve said it a couple of times, it’s a little bit strange when you have to say ‘I’m fully in’ because maybe people from the outside question it. But no, motivation is absolutely not my problem.”
‘Smart recruitment is the Liverpool way’
Klopp’s chances of restoring Liverpool to their previous heights next season will, in part at least, depend on how the hierarchy operates in the summer transfer window.
A long-standing interest in signing Borussia Dortmund teenager Jude Bellingham may be over due to his £100m-plus price tag, but they are still expected to be active in the market and are understood to be targeting at least two new midfielders.
Asked if focusing on bringing in multiple players rather than spending a huge sum of money on one individual is the right approach, Klopp replied: “There’s really nothing to say. You have to wait until we finish our business and then you will see what we did.
“We have to be ready for praise or criticism. We’ll work from the first day of the new season with the boys and we’ll really go for it – that’s much more important.
“All the rest is speculation from the media. We have nothing to do with that.”
Liverpool have spent over £700m on new signings since the summer of 2016, but several big-money departures over recent years mean the club’s total net spend is less than the likes of West Ham, Everton, Aston Villa and Wolves, leading to questions about why they have not spent more.
“We always try to be smart in our recruitment,” Klopp says. “I am 100 per cent sure that if you gave the power stick to a few people, then next season we’d bring in 20 new players.
“If you gave it to a few others, then we’d bring old players back when we were successful before and stuff like this. We are in charge, that’s what we decided on and let’s go from there.
“It’s an interesting period, very interesting and we always try to be smart in the transfer market, so it’s not completely new to us.”
Klopp has also been criticized for not refreshing an aging squad. Despite the arrivals of Darwin Nunez (23), Cody Gakpo (23) and Fabio Carvalho (19) ahead of this season, Liverpool’s starting XI remains the fourth oldest in the Premier League (27.77).
“We know we don’t have the youngest squad, but we have a lot of young players in the squad as well,” says Klopp. “We built a team over years, we were successful and last season we nearly won the quadruple. We didn’t, I know, but we were as close as you could get.
“A lot of the things we achieved are based on the experience the boys made together. One year later, we are not great and everybody tells us we are too old. That’s our situation and I have absolutely no problem with that.
“It’s about doing the right things and that’s what we always try to do. It’s not about how much or how many. Then we go out and play football and people have to judge us.”
Klopp: Leeds will be back – we must be ready
Transfer talk aside, Klopp’s immediate aim is ending Liverpool’s five-match winless run in all competitions when they travel to relegation-threatened Leeds in the Premier League on Monday night, live on Sky Sports.
Leeds stunned Liverpool in the reverse fixture back in October and are looking for a response to last weekend’s heavy 5-1 defeat against Crystal Palace at Elland Road.
“I’m expecting a massive fight. That’s clear,” says Klopp, who has never gone six games without a win as Liverpool boss.
“It was a strange game against Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace are a good team and Roy (Hodgson) is back, magic Roy is back which is really cool to see.
“He was really smart from them, especially in the second half with the counter-attacking goals. He was good football and good decision-making.
“When you’re in a situation like Leeds are, that can happen. You can have these kinds of one-off games. But I expect them to be completely back on track again and put up a real fight against us. We have to be ready for it.”
Monday 17th April 7:00pm
Kick off 8:00pm
Watch Leeds vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm on Monday Night Football; kick off 8pm.
You can also follow events from Elland Road on the Sky Sports website and app with our live blog, featuring in-game clips and free match highlights after the final whistle.
Liverpool’s remaining fixtures…
April 17: Leeds (A) – Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
April 22: Nottingham Forest (H) – Premier League, 3pm kick-off
April 26: West Ham (A) – Premier League, kick-off 7.45pm
April 30: Tottenham (H) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
May 3: Fulham (A) – Premier League, kick-off 8pm
May 6: Brentford (H) – Premier League, kick-off 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports
May 13: Leicester (A) – Premier League, 3pm kick-off
May 20: AstonVilla (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 28: Southampton (A) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm