Jürgen Klopp admits achievements at Liverpool have exceeded expectations

Jürgen Klopp feels his reign at Liverpool has gone better than even an optimist like him could have expected. “I don’t think I would have believed it but I am not a very negative person,” the manager said. “I would not have thought it was possible being three times in a European final and twice in a Champions League final. That is something nobody could have said four years ago. That is really special.”

The German inherited a team 10th in the Premier League when he took charge in October 2015 and has steered Liverpool to three European finals, with Tuesday’s 4-0 evisceration of Barcelona taking them to a second successive Champions League showpiece. Liverpool host Wolves on Sunday looking to become champions of England for the first time in 29 years and knowing that, even if they do not overhaul Manchester City, who face Brighton and are one point clear, a total of 97 points would be the third-highest in top-flight history.

Klopp admitted he had reservations when he was appointed at Liverpool because he believed a culture of short-termism at Anfield would make it hard to bring incremental improvement. “In that moment I thought that pressure in the club and from around the club was much bigger than it really was,” he said. “Everybody gave me the feeling that, not people inside [Liverpool], that you have to win silverware. Nobody is interested in development or in the game itself.

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“That made my life a bit uncomfortable in the beginning because I have not [got] a time machine so we need time to develop things.”

Liverpool’s standout players this week have highlighted twin elements of Klopp’s development, both from signing players and from improving those he inherited. Alisson excelled against Barcelona – “He saved our lives then,” Klopp said – and the £67m buy was the world’s most expensive goalkeeper before losing that tag to Kepa Arrizabalaga four weeks later.

Lionel Messi has his shot saved by Alisson during Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Barcelona.

Lionel Messi has his shot saved by Alisson during Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Barcelona. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

“We had to pay a lot of money for a goalkeeper but then Chelsea had to pay a lot of money for a goalkeeper, too,” Klopp said. “The prices keep going up. It is easy to realise Alisson Becker is a wonderful goalkeeper; the only thing is that he makes spectacular things look really easy.”

Divock Origi, who joined before Klopp, had played only 577 minutes this season until he delivered last week’s winner at Newcastle and the decisive brace against Barcelona. “Showing up the way he did, it’s been ‘Divock Origi week’,” Klopp said. “When you think about how much he was not playing, maybe you think that I don’t like the player that much or I don’t trust him too much. But that is actually not right. It is difficult to get in a team when you have Salah, Mané and Firmino.”

With Roberto Firmino ruled out, Origi is set to face Wolves. Klopp had wolves of a different kind on his mind as he reflected on the job Jordan Henderson and James Milner, two others he inherited, did against Barcelona. “The energy level Hendo and Milly had, I thought they were like wolves who nobody had fed for eight weeks. They were unbelievable.”

source: theguardian.com