Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits that his side did not play well enough this season to earn their famous “mentality monsters” tag.
The Reds enjoyed a fantastic resurgence to end up finishing third in the Premier League table. However, they sat eighth at one stage after losing six games in a row at Anfield in a woeful run of form. What’s more, they only scored one goal in that run, which was a Mohamed Salah penalty.
Since March, though, Liverpool won eight and drew two of their last 10 games. They could also have got three points off Newcastle, but struggled to finish their chances.
Nevertheless, poor runs of form for Leicester and Chelsea towards the end helped, as the Reds leapfrogged the pair with their win over Crystal Palace.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Klopp reflected on his sides’s whirlwind season, which also saw them lose all three senior centre-halves.
“This is a sensational group and that’s the good thing: in all the tough times, there was nothing [of] pointing fingers at others and saying, ‘It’s because of that or because of that.’ We just went through it,” the manager said.
“Yes, it was tough but we went through it and here we are. If you don’t give up you have a proper chance and this was never the year to become champion for us, we had too many problems.
“But who cares? There must be other targets and we are third in this incredibly strong league, that’s insane! That’s the third-best finish we ever had since I am here, so not too bad! I am really happy.”
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Liverpool have built recent Champions League and Premier League glory on a never-say-die attitude.
Indeed, they recovered from three goals down to beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield. Last season, meanwhile, they pulled off dramatic late wins against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, for instance.
Alisson Becker’s last-minute winner over West Brom showed a similar mentality. Nevertheless, Klopp insists his side have not shown enough of that quality to earn their famous tag.
Liverpool not mentality monsters this season
“Honestly, I was never self-confident enough this season, even in the last few weeks, to use that phrase [mentality monsters],” he said.
“I think the boys did an incredible job, but there were not a lot of moments where it felt, really, like that. Eight [wins] out of the last 10 [games], it never felt [like that].
“I said it today before the game to the boys, it’s our fault that it never felt [like that] but it was maybe because it was so hard. We had so many problems.”
The Reds finished the season with youngster Rhys Williams alongside Nathaniel Phillips in defence.
“As an example, the two centre-halves today got cuts, both get stitched, all fine – but Rhys [Williams] didn’t train since Burnley,” Klopp added.
“So, after Burnley, happy camp, all good… Rhys needs a scan, hamstring. That was the year, pretty much: worrying constantly about something!
“And here we are, finished, in third. I have no words for that, it’s absolutely incredible. I would have never bet a penny on that but here we are.”