Jurgen Klopp has dampened the newly-discovered Premier League title talk around Liverpool, saying: “We’re playing well, but we’ve still got an awful long way to go.”
The German has transformed Liverpool in his two months at the club with victories at Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton – by an aggregate of 13-3 – underlining the new-found optimism under Klopp’s charge.
A slow, steady start has been followed by a run of seven wins in eight matches, with some Liverpool fans daring to dream of a title challenge. Our weekly Red Letter column this week also discussed why Liverpool’s title chances cannot be discounted.
But Klopp, despite building a head of steam at Anfield, has urged fans not to get carried away.
“I don’t think about this,” he said of a title run.
“People can talk about this but we just have to play football.
“We don’t have any ideas yet about where we can get to – it’s a fantastic football club and everyone here loves working at this club and everything is really good.
“But you need to have luck with injuries to be challenging, so we can’t get carried away and look too far forward – we are only in sixth place.
“That is all we look at and that is what football is all about. We know we can get better, and we know there is still a long way to go.”
Such caution is perfectly understandable from a manager who insisted when he arrived he needed time,just as he was granted at Dortmund, where it took three years to forge a title-winning side.
While he has inherited better resources at Liverpool, he also has a team he insists still has to learn how to win at home.
He also has a squad that, while strong up front, is short of cover at the back.
So any injury crisis will quickly derail Liverpool, even if they can chip away at the six-point gap that separates them from Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
For the moment, the Liverpool players seem happy to be swept along by Klopp’s sheer force of personality.
The German has created an amazing momentum at Liverpool by creating an amazing atmosphere.
But there’s more to him than charisma.
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He says he’s a man with a plan and, though his words are often lost in the laughter he inspires in his interviews, the message is constant.
His players, he says, need to “work harder, run faster, and fight longer” than the opposition.
And they need to stick to his plan – even if at first it seems ill-starred.
He said as much when he first arrived.
“We will try to play very emotional football. All the world is talking about ball possession, but we have to have a plan for when we have the ball and when we don’t,” he said.
“They have to listen to what I say, that is very important because I believe it is better to have 11 players do the same thing wrong than everybody doing what they want.
“We have to do it one way and that is my way. Now we cannot talk about football philosophy and ball possession and playing like Barcelona or whoever. No, this team needs to create its own style.”