July 26, 2021

‘Champions League qualification is most important’ – Klopp plays down back-to-back titles at Liverpool after Man Utd draw

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The Reds head coach says he is putting a European place ahead of a successful defence of the Premier League trophy

Champions League qualification is “the most important thing” for Liverpool, insists Jurgen Klopp, who claims he is not obsessed with delivering back-to-back titles.

Liverpool stormed to their first domestic crown in 30 years last season, finishing 18 points clear of second-placed Manchester City after securing the trophy with a record-breaking seven games to spare.

Unfortunately, Klopp’s side have not been able to match those levels of consistency in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign, slipping to fourth in the Premier League standings after 18 fixtures.

The Reds were setting the pace again until surprise draws against West Brom and Newcastle halted their momentum, and a 1-0 loss at Southampton raised even more question marks over their ability to successfully defend the title.

The champions extended their recent winless run to four games after playing out a 0-0 stalemate with Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, with a lack of cutting edge in the final third once again undermining their build-up play.

Klopp must now prepare his players for another crucial home fixture against Burnley on Thursday, which they can ill-afford to lose with United, Manchester City and Leicester City enjoying superior spells of form above them.

However, the German head coach is adamant that Liverpool’s main goal is to finish in the Champions League places, as he told reporters following the draw against the Red Devils: “For me, it’s not important where we are in the moment – it’s important that we have points and we are around this group [top four].

“For that you need points. We are in the middle of a bunch of teams which fight for this spot and that’s what we have to do. It’s not about if we don’t become champions, it’s not fun anymore. We just fight for everything and I saw that tonight again.

“The most important thing is to qualify for the Champions League and I know how difficult it is. This season it will be a tough race for the top four.”

During an interview with Sky Sports, Klopp added on the Reds’ struggles for goals: “There is no easy explanation [for their recent lack of goals]. You always miss chances. You have to keep going and try to ignore the talk around it. Everyone wants to see goals. You cannot force it.

“These moments happen. You have moments where you can’t explain why you score from all angles. Against Crystal Palace everything ended up in the net. It’s a bit annoying in between these moments.”