Jürgen Klopp sees ample scope for improvement within his current squad as he insisted: “We are not the finished article.”
After winning the Champions League in 2018-19, Liverpool sprinted into a commanding 25-point lead of the Premier League – with just two games of 29 not won – before the season was halted indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And there’ll be no slowing down by the Reds when football resumes, with Klopp enthused by the prospect of making further gains in the future.
“We will not change [mentality], that’s the first thing,” the manager told Sky Sports during an interview via video link.
“If we will be successful depends what other clubs are doing as well because they all have a chance to improve things, to do things better. So I have no clue what the future will hold for us. But we will not change, this team is not a finished article, it’s not done.
“We have a lot of space for improvement and we work on that. We have fresh blood coming up internally, we can mix things through. There are a lot of things we can improve obviously, but we can improve it with this team, which is really great.”
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Klopp continued: “Life is a constant challenge and we realise it in this moment especially because we never faced a challenge like the one we have now. It looks like the situations we had in the past where we thought they are big problems, they look like nothing.
“Qualifying again for a Champions League final and not winning the league because of a point or 11mm, that could be hard. But we always saw it like this: the only way to get something is to give everything. But it’s not a guarantee.
“The boys were always ready to give their all, absolutely all and try again and try again and try again. Then there are two possible scenarios. One is you lose the final, one is you win the final. You lose the final, there is still a wonderful experience to go there because you had to qualify from the semi-finals, the quarter-finals, the last 16, you have to go through the group stage. You can take so much confidence from it and that’s what we did from the Champions League defeat against Madrid.
“It was a strange final and it said nothing about the boys, absolutely nothing. The only thing we realised was we were good enough to cause a few more teams problems now. That was exactly the plan for the next season.
“In this season we are at the end of April and it didn’t start again, that’s clear, but whenever we can play again – whenever it will be – we will not give up. In the moment when it’s allowed to concentrate on football again for us, we will do that again and we will start with that again and try our best again. We will see when it will be.”
The close bonds inside the Liverpool dressing room have only been emphasised by the footage of their online training sessions in recent weeks.
Our regular peeks at the workouts, including yoga and cycling, reveal the camaraderie and togetherness that has underpinned the team’s progress.
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For Klopp, personal relationships with players must also tread a careful balance to ensure he can always have the greatest professional impact possible.
“My players aren’t my sons but my sons are now turning 35 and 32, and that’s pretty much exactly the same,” he said.
“There are moments when you are a father, there are moments when you are a friend, there are moments when you have to criticise them. These things are always exactly the same. I always did that with my players as well.
“We can have a really close relationship and the closer relationship you get, the more you have to tell the truth to the boys because they judge you on that. I explained it once and said I really want to be the friend of my players but I cannot be their best friend. That’s how it is.
“A friend has to tell you the truth, a friend has to tell you what you can do better, a friend has to – and will – always tell you what is right and what is wrong. That’s exactly what I do, but never in a manner that they cannot get up next morning.
“It’s always the same reason: I want to help them. I have no other job. My job is to help the boys to be the best player they can be, and there are a few things to do.”
Klopp is nearing 20 years in management having first stepped into the dugout with Mainz in 2001.
He went on to guide Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final appearance during a seven-season tenure that made him one of the most sought-after coaches in the game.
His methods have continued to accrue success across four-and-a-half years with Liverpool, too, with the Reds most recently crowned world champions in December.
Asked if and how his tactics have changed over the course of his managerial career, Klopp said: “Some ideas were always the same, the organisation – or the idea about organisation – was similar, where I wanted my teams to win the ball back and stuff like this.
“These things never really change because I just think they are right, but of course as a manager you have to adapt your style to the quality of the players you have available.
“The quality increased a lot in the last few years, not only here; at Dortmund it was already different to Mainz. At Mainz it was different from year to year.
“But it’s all about the organisation. It’s not that I have a fixed idea of how it should be and then I try to push it through with the boys, it’s just I try to understand exactly the quality and skills of the boys and then to use that. Because the pitch in all my career was always the same size and the rules didn’t change too much since I was a manager. So these things are clear, so you have to try to adapt to different situations.
“Of course, a lot of things changed. The way I work changed; I started alone, now I have a lot of coaches next to me. That’s all different to how it was.”