Jurgen Klopp hints that Champions League qualification is Liverpool's main target after Swansea stumble
Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool can not use Sadio Mané’s absence as an excuse for their diminishing title hopes.
Defeat to Swansea last weekend has opened a ten point gap between Klopp’s side and Chelsea, making their Premier League meeting on January 31 decisive in terms of Liverpool’s aspirations.
Liverpool have suffered without Mané - currently on African Cup of Nations duty.
In the meantime, they face Southampton in EFL Cup hoping a Wembley final will provide some consolation after a difficult period.
“We miss Sadio and missed Phil for a long time and miss Joel Matip and that is really difficult. It is a problem,” said Klopp.
“As a much as I like Sadio it’s not allowed we think the problems we had is because we miss Sadio. We scored enough goals to win the games. The problem is the whole defence work of the team. If it was so easy you buy one new player and all the problems are solved I would do it.”
Klopp will not concede Liverpool’s title hopes, but admitted there was a need to recalibrate targets – particularly in terms of ensuring his side qualifies for next season’s Champions League.
“We fight in each game, that is the most important thing, and then we see what happens around that, but in cup competitions the target is win the tournament,” he said.
“If Chelsea win all their games there is no chance for any other team. For us it is still absolutely important to finish the season as good as possible whatever it means and then we will see. We have quality to fight for the Champions League. If we do this and are close enough at the decisive moment you can fight for a little bit more. Now we have two games before we play Chelsea. We fight for everything and that is all. We don’t look for excuses. What we need is to fight.”
Klopp, meanwhile, has vowed to help Steven Gerrard in his journey into management after welcoming the midfielder back to the club as a youth coach.
“We had a very good and very long talk together,” said Klopp.
“Everyone knows he is a wonderful guy and for me it was important to know what Steven wants. He decided he wants to be a manager in the future and I said everything I can do to help him be the best manager he can be I would like to do.
“Now he is at the academy and it is great for him and us. To be a manager you have to learn and when a person like Steven Gerrard is ready to make the steps that is wonderful news for football because combining the playing experience with all the things he will learn is brilliant.”