Gary Neville has opened up on the challenge facing Liverpool next season as the club prepare to secure a long-awaited league title success.
Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders could secure a first title in three decades in their first fixture against Everton should Manchester City lose to Arsenal on Wednesday, and ahead of an expected title triumph Neville has discussed the next challenge facing the Merseyside club.
The former Manchester United defender won eight Premier League titles during a glittering career at Old Trafford and has spoken of the motivation required to regroup and go on to win back-to-back championships.
“They mustn’t think the first one is the holy grail. They should forget about it as soon as they have won it,” Neville said, as per the Mail.
“That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t celebrate. They should celebrate like hell when they win it in a couple of weeks.
“But it will come from the manager. He doesn’t strike me as the type who will get carried and think: ‘This is it. I have done it. I have won the European Cup, got my statue and won the league’. He is not that type of guy. But in terms of back-to-back titles, it’s purely up here in your head. It’s not a talent thing.
“My main criticism of Manchester City in the early years of them winning titles was that I always felt that after they had won it they all relaxed.
“Winning the league either makes you feel you have done it and you will ease off two or three per cent – which is not a big margin but it’s enough to make you lose the league – or it will give you confidence, experience and maturity to make you better.
“Manchester United teams over the years was largely the same squad apart from two or three players that the manager would bring in and out.
“From that point of view he relied on our experience and confidence and maturity to grow. You win leagues by feeling more confident and comfortable in the pressurised parts of the season.
“I think Liverpool can improve. Those players can improve. Just by staying at the level they are at now but with having extra confidence and maturity from winning it already – and arrogance from winning the Champions League and the Premier League in two seasons – those players should be at a level they have never been at in their lives.
“Brian Kidd [former United assistant manager] told me in my early days all I had to do each season was progress, just a little bit. Something different and better. That may be fitness or a tactical change.
“I would love to see Liverpool at their peak now – that this was as good as it was going to get – but a Liverpool fan would hate to think this was the best of Virgil van Dijk – at his age – or the best of Trent Alexander-Arnold or that Andy Robertson wouldn’t be the same player next season.
“Why would you think that? I wouldn’t think that of Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane or Mo Salah. ‘They have produced over two or three years now. It’s not as though they are a flash in the pan.”