Jürgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool’s troubles this season are not down to a seven-year glitch, despite him failing to make it to an eighth season in his previous two jobs.
This weekend marks the anniversary of the German’s appointment as the successor to Brendan Rodgers in 2015. Klopp left Mainz and Borussia Dortmund after seven seasons, with his last campaign at Dortmund particularly painful: the club were in the relegation zone at Christmas before eventually bouncing back to finish seventh.
After a shaky start this season, drawing four and losing one of their first seven matches, comparisons were being drawn in some quarters with his record in Germany. However, Klopp was adamant there was no correlation between any of his jobs and he did not have a problem with fatigue.
“The situation in the clubs was really different. A seven-year spell is not planned or because I lost energy, or things like this,” he said. “I was a manager at Mainz and after three years we got promoted to the Bundesliga then three years later we got relegated to the 2.Bundesliga. We tried one more year and the club needed a change, players left us for the Bundesliga so they needed a fresh start.
“I was full of energy, I went directly to Dortmund and it was all fine. Seven years and it was just a situation that players constantly got bought by other clubs. It was a really hard job to do, constantly making two steps back. It was really intense and really exhausting, which is the reason why I said we had to stop it here, but I didn’t have an energy problem, not at all.
“I have absolutely no problem with energy and the situation is completely different here. I can understand that I left after seven years [previously] and now we are in a difficult situation and people take that [view] but, if you think twice about it, you realise the situation is completely different.
“Yes, it’s a difficult time. Did I think before the season we would be ninth after match-day seven? No, because I don’t think about these things. But this is the basis now, let’s go from here.”
Where Liverpool do go from here remains to be seen. They trail Sunday’s opponents, Arsenal, by 11 points, while Manchester City’s form is ominous on the back of Erling Haaland’s remarkable goalscoring feats for the defending champions. Klopp accepts that already a title bid may be beyond his side but that will not prevent them from trying to regain lost ground.
“We have the chance still to create something really special from this point,” he added. “Does it look in the moment like we will be champions at the end of the year? Unfortunately not. But in all other competitions, we are not out yet and nobody knows where we will end up in the league, so let’s give it a go. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. That’s enough.”
In addition to their defensive difficulties Liverpool have yet to see the ultra-reliable Mohamed Salah – a Golden Boot winner in three of his five seasons at the club – hit his best form. That has been brought into sharp focus by Haaland’s exploits but Klopp said the comparisons were unfair.
“Nobody in the world can cope with the Haaland situation in the moment, it’s crazy what he’s doing,” said the Reds manager. “He’s an exceptional player in an exceptional team and that obviously works pretty well together and I don’t think we should compare in this moment anyone with that.
“You can say whatever you want about Mo and is it his season so far? No, like for all of us. But even when the goalscoring numbers are not that crazy [for Salah] how often he is involved? He wants to score goals, definitely, desperately, 100% that never changed. Call him in 20 years and it will be the same, definitely.”
There was bad news for Klopp on the injury front, with Arthur Melo, the midfielder taken on loan from Juventus on deadline day, undergoing surgery on a thigh injury this weekend. He will be out of action for three to four months.