For Jurgen Klopp, anger and hurt is not an option, only fight will do.
He and his team of champions have been forced to sit and watch this week, as two of their greatest rivals battle it out for three of the biggest honours in world football.
While the Manchesters of City and United pursue European glory either side of a potentially defining weekend in the title race, Liverpool have been reduced – many would say humbled – to the role of bit part players.
Their only input on Sunday could be to hand the Premier League to City, if they can muster some reserves of defiance to beat Manchester United. To some, that is a humiliation for the side which conquered the world a year ago.
For Klopp, it is merely the starting point on the path to getting back to where Liverpool belong. “We have nothing to do with the title, (or) semi-finals and finals, we know that, but I don’t feel bad because of it – that would be really weak,” he said.
“We have been in semis and finals and fighting for the league title, so I don’t know if other teams felt bad because of us. But I am not like this.
“We are responsible for what happens for us and we will challenge them again next year. But right now we can only finish our season as good as possible, fight to win this weekend, because without winning football games we will not end up in any kind of European competition.”
Klopp knows that even winning their last five Premier League games won’t guarantee Champions League football next season, but he insists his side must now throw caution to the wind and aim for precisely that.
In the longer term though, despite the tumult of a catastrophic season, he believes Liverpool will return to their previous levels when they challenged at the very summit of the world game…even if he realises with City so powerful, that guarantees nothing.
“We are not that naive. We know we have to improve and we know something’s happened – it’s not a year, because some things have happened, to become champions,” he said.
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“But we know that (even) if only the players come back we missed, we will be better immediately. We will have a much better rhythm. Negative things lead to other negative things, and for us it was really really harsh.
“But let’s imagine that doesn’t happen every year- then we have a better basis, and in that moment we are immediately stronger again because we didn’t forget how to play football.”
Only victory will do for Liverpool at Old Trafford, but Klopp knows City don’t need his side to beat United to become champions – “they are already champions”. He wants, though, his side to show fight, because that is what will be needed next season.
“It is always harder because Man City never stops, that is clear. They had two years in a row where we had them neck and neck, one year we were ahead of them but we never expected that to happen for the next 10 years in a row.
“We know our resources inside and that’s not a problem. You cannot become champions every year and City won’t be every year even when they have a pretty good perspective.”
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Author: [email protected] (David Maddock)
This post originally appeared on Mirror – Football