Jurgen Klopp admitted his pleasant surprise at how hard Liverpool have pushed Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title, stating that this season is a stepping stone for even better things to come from his side.
Liverpool, chasing their first top-flight title since 1990, have lost just once in the league all season but still trail Pep Guardiola’s defending champions by a point with three games remaining.
Klopp, whose side host Huddersfield on Friday, told reporters at his pre-match press conference that he was calm while watching City’s 2-0 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
“It was the result I expected,” said the German.
“United tried whatever they can, in the first half especially, they were a bit unlucky in one or two moments but then over the 95 minutes it was clear that they can’t stand City at the moment so I was not surprised by the result.”
Klopp said he agreed with Guardiola that both teams deserved to win the Premier League but that there could be just one champion.
“One of us, it’s like with the Highlander, will be there at the end,” said a buoyant Klopp, referring to the famous phrase from the film — “There can be only one”.
“But we don’t only play for being champions at the end of the season. Yes, it’s a main, a big target. This team tries it for the first time and we are obviously pretty close in the moment and we still have a chance to do it. We will see what happens until the end of the season.
“But it’s the first time not the last time. That’s how it is and only because the club is waiting for a long time, the people are waiting, that doesn’t make it more likely.
“That we are that close is already I would say rather surprising because last year we were 25 points behind. That doesn’t look like that will happen this year again so that’s really, really good.”
Klopp said winning was not the be all and end all for his team, despite their long title drought.
“We want to play the best football we can play every single day, that’s the truth,” he said. “Sometimes we have to accept it didn’t happen but we still try it and that’s all what we are interested in and at the end of the season you see where you end up.”
“If we do it we will do it,” he added. “If we will not do it there are no regrets as long as we give always our best. I saw that the whole season from the boys but still the season, however it ends up, is only the first step in that area. We are not the finished article.”