Champions League qualification would make season a success, insists Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool’s season should still be seen as a success if they finish in the Premier League’s top four to secure a Champions League place.

The Reds’ hopes in Europe this year were brought to an end by Real Madrid on Wednesday night, while their title defence was undone by a run of six defeats in seven during February and March.

They still face an uphill task to get back into the top four, needing to overhaul two of Chelsea, West Ham and Leicester, but, given the devastating injuries Liverpool have suffered this season, doing so would still rank as an achievement.

Liverpool v Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League – Quarter Final – Second Leg – Anfield
After Wednesday’s exit, Liverpool face a fight to get into next season’s Champions League (Peter Byrne/PA)

“We can make this season still a success if we qualify for the Champions League,” Klopp said. “We won the league last year, but it doesn’t mean that the only thing for us to make the season a success is winning the league again. That would be really mad.

“It’s why a lot of teams get problems after winning something, but we are not in that mood. We don’t chase our own shadow and say, ‘My God, how can we get that good again?’

“We know all the necessary steps that we have to do.”

Liverpool could find themselves back in the top four come Monday night if they can win at Leeds, with West Ham having dropped points at Newcastle, while Chelsea were in FA Cup action this weekend, although the Blues will have a game in hand as a result.

With their fate out of their own hands to some degree, Klopp knows his side must get into the heads of their rivals by putting pressure on – something he hopes they are already beginning to do with three straight wins in the league.

Liverpool v Chelsea – Premier League – Anfield
Overcoming Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea could be Liverpool’s biggest challenge in the race for the top four (Laurence Griffiths/PA)

Having been in close battles for fourth place before – with Arsenal in 2017 and Chelsea in 2018 – Klopp understands the task ahead.

In 2018, Liverpool drew three of four to slip from third to fourth at a time when fifth-placed Chelsea were on a run of four straight wins to keep alive narrow hopes of breaking into the top four.

“We have to chase everybody,” Klopp said. “The team we play and the others without playing them. That way we really put pressure on them. We felt it when Chelsea really came up, winning all the time.

“It’s different. When you go into a game, you’re not thinking, ‘If we win, it’s good, if not, it’s not so important’. You think, ‘Oh my God, Chelsea won again’, so you go into the game in a different mood. We know that.

“We still made it that year, but it was tricky. The only way we can make it difficult for the others is by winning all our games and that’s what we will try.”