Frustrated Klopp struggles to identify ‘really good’ Liverpool player after assessing ill-fated Champions League chase
Jurgen Klopp is glad Liverpool gave a ‘proper fight’ when chasing Champions League qualification, but struggled to identify a standout player from the result that all but confirmed they won’t make it.
Liverpool’s faint hopes of securing a top four finish all but ended after being held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa.
It was an emotional afternoon on Merseyside after Liverpool confirmed the departures of Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Roberto Firmino during the week.
The latter pair in particular will be fondly remembered for years to come at Liverpool and both played their part in helping Liverpool to salvage a draw when coming off the bench.
Milner was his usual bullish self and strong in the duel, while Firmino produced an elegant finish with the outside of his boot to cancel Jacob Ramsey’s first-half strike.
But while Liverpool amped up the pressure in 10 minutes of injury time, clear-cut chances remained frustratingly hard to come by.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the match, Klopp – who was banned from the touchline thanks to his comments about referee Paul Tierney – said: “Frustrating wherever you sit.
“We made it a proper fight – chasing the Champions League in general. They got more points. We would have loved to have made it exciting for another week but we couldn’t do that.
“I asked the boys after the game, who was really, really good today? It was difficult to find one. But the character we showed was good. Aston Villa were screwed in the second half and they didn’t know how to deal with it.”
Klopp gives honest opinion on Europa League
Fifth now looks almost certain to be where Liverpool will finish in the table, after being runners up last season. Despite the imminent drop from the Champions League to the Europa League, Klopp is ready to prepare for another European adventure.
He said: “We will make it [the Europa League] our competition. I am not that spoilt.
“That we are already qualified for the Europa League is incredible with all these teams around us. That’s really difficult and we did it, that is good. For so long we couldn’t even hear the sound of the Champions League, that’s how far away we were.
“The Europa League us absolutely fine. Let’s see what we can do.”
Bidding farewell to Firmino and Milner, Klopp concluded: “Both contributions of Milly and Bobby was crazy. We saw what we will miss. That is how it is.
“It is a story we wrote together, now we have to write a new story and they have to write a new story. We have to step up leadership-wise without Milly. Bobby is Bobby. I will miss all of them.
“It is better we all feel really bad that they leave than happy.”
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