Tuesday 25 September 2018

They don't hang silver medals in Melwood, warns Liverpool manager

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp applauds the fans following his sides progression to this year's Champions League final. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp applauds the fans following his sides progression to this year's Champions League final. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Mark Critchley

Jurgen Klopp has reminded his Liverpool players that "they do not hang silver medals at Melwood" after they reached the Champions League final in Kiev against Real Madrid.

Klopp's side overcame yet another comeback by Eusebio di Francesco's Roma, who won 4-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico but were eliminated 7-6 on aggregate.

First-half goals from Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum saw Liverpool into a 2-1 lead at the break and despite Roma's second-half rally and several contentious refereeing decisions, the visitors edged through.

The Kiev final will be the eighth in Liverpool's history and will present Klopp to win the first trophy of his reign since being appointed in October 2015.

The German took Liverpool to two finals within his first year at the club and lost both, and that experience has taught him that simply reaching a showpiece is not enough.

"We were in League Cup final, we didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final.' We were in Europa League final, nobody tells me that. I see no trophies after these games.

"They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, that's the game. There's still a job to do but that's how it is. Going to a final is really nice but winning is even nicer.

"We will be ready then but is Real Madrid. You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid.

"I think 80 per cent of the team of Real Madrid played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire."

Klopp also praised his team's mentality, if not their defending.

"The boys deserve it. The campaign, the character they showed, the mentality they showed, the football they showed - that's just crazy.

"And then it suits our situation, what was it? On aggregate it's - I forgot it - 7-6, it was unbelievable."

The German added: "To be honest, there's a lot of room for improvement in our general defending.

"We were constantly under pressure. Each counter attack was really dangerous but we didn't use them, we are usually much better. We wanted to do it, without doing the right thing.

"It was the first semi-final for most of the boys and it's completely normal that you have to keep your nerves and all of that stuff.

"It was a little bit exciting, more exciting than what I actually want but now it's over and I'm fine."

Before facing Madrid, Liverpool must make sure of their place in next year's Champions League by securing a top-four domestic finish. Victory over fifth-placed Chelsea on Sunday at Stamford Bridge will guarantee them their place.

"We have to play two more Champions League semi-finals in the Premier League, that's the first job to do, but we have two weeks to prepare the final and we will use that time," Klopp said.

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard hailed the success as an "incredible achievement".

"Congratulations to Jurgen Klopp and the players - they're the ones that have taken the fans on this journey," the former midfielder told BT Sport.

"They deserve all the plaudits they'll get in the coming days.

"They've set themselves up for a mouth-watering final against Real Madrid and they should go in with confidence they can go all the way now.

"That man (Klopp) and the players deserve so much praise."

Roma president Jim Pallotta, however, believes it will be an "absolute joke" if the Video Assistant Referee is not introduced into the Champions League.

Pallotta was unhappy with a number of decisions, including a handball by Trent Alexander-Arnold which was not given.

"It is very clear VAR is needed in the Champions League because you just can't let stuff like this happen," he said.

"You can all look at it yourself. (Stephan) El Shaarawy in the 49th minute wasn't offside and he gets taken down by the goalie; the 63rd minute was a handball that was obvious to everyone probably in the world except people on the pitch; the 67th minute Schick gets taken down in the box.

"I know it is difficult to ref but it is really embarrassing that we lose on aggregate like that.

"By the way, it should have been a red card which would have been 10 men in the 63rd minute.

"Liverpool are a great team, congratulations going forward, but if they don't get VAR in the Champions League stuff like this is an absolute joke."

Irish Independent

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