Jurgen Klopp has admitted that he is keen to ‘learn’ from Liverpool’s disappointing campaign following the Reds difficult defence of the title this term.
After romping to the title last season and finishing 18 points clear of second-placed Manchester City, Liverpool have suffered a real dip in form this term, currently sitting sixth in the Premier League and finding themselves 22 points behind Pep Guardiola’s relentless league leaders.
While City have shrugged off a slow start and are now in the midst of a 21-game winning run in all competitions, Klopp’s men have struggled for form in recent months and face a fight to secure a top four position and Champions League qualification.
Although the champions ended a run of four straight league defeats with a win over Sheffield United on Sunday, they still look way short of where they have been over the last few seasons, albeit after having been ravaged by injuries, particularly at centre-back.
Such bad luck has no doubt been a key factor in their struggles this term, with the German admitting that you have to have a ‘nearly perfect season’ if you are to win the Premier League title.
“Before the season, yes, we knew we were good,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “That did not mean we were going to win it, but it just increases your responsibility to achieve something.
“We are still a good team but a lot of things have happened this season and if you want to win the league in England you have to play a nearly perfect season.
“You can see that now with City. They did not start perfectly but they obviously now are in a mood where it looks like perfection. Results-wise, one hundred per cent. Performance-wise, not far away. That is the season you have to play to become champions in England.”
While they are currently now well out of the title race, it wasn’t too long ago that the Reds were still arguably the favourites to reclaim the title, before the impact of their injuries seemingly took its toll.
“We started the season pretty well,” Klopp said. “We were, for a long time, on top or around the top of the table, scoring goals.
“The problems that we had, it was always clear that they would become influential if we could not sort it by the players coming back. That is what happened.”
Despite the club’s struggles for consistent results this season, Klopp believes that his side are actually doing some things ‘better’ than last term and says the Reds will learn lessons from a disappointing campaign as they bid to challenge once more next season.
“You cannot change it overnight and say that from now on we are going to smash the whole world again but we will get there again if we stay calm in mind and we use this time to learn.
“A lot of things are really good. Some are even better than they were last year. How we develop our game in little moments, it is just better than it was. Nobody sees them because we don’t get the results. I get that. But there is so much that we have changed and tried to develop that we know will make us stronger in the future.
“The problem is that football is all about results and if these little things that are better than before do not lead to better result then people do not want to hear about them.
“If we are winning 15 or 20 games in a row, people listen to me and say, ‘Oh my god, what kind of genius stuff is he saying.’ When we are not winning games, I can say exactly the same things and people will say, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, just make sure you win the game.’
“I know that, it is absolutely no problem. I am responsible for this, not only now but for the next few years as well. That is why we will not let this time pass without getting a little bit of a benefit out of it. We cannot prove that now because we are still in the situation.
“We will have to prove it a little bit later.”
Liverpool face Chelsea this evening in a huge clash in the race for the top four, the Reds currently trailing the fifth-placed visitors by just one point and one place ahead of a crucial game at Anfield.