Friday 23 August 2019

Liverpool will not suffer title-race hangover, says sports psychologist

The Reds narrowly missed out on the Premier League trophy but must now ready themselves for the Champions League final.

Liverpool players embrace at the end of Sunday’s 2-0 win over Wolves (Peter Byrne/PA)
Liverpool players embrace at the end of Sunday’s 2-0 win over Wolves (Peter Byrne/PA)

By Ian Parker, Press Association Sport

Liverpool’s players will not be weighed down by the disappointment of missing out on the Premier League title as they prepare for the Champions League final, according to sports psychologist Richard Cox.

The Reds racked up a remarkable tally of 97 points but it was not enough to end the club’s 29-year wait for a league trophy, with Manchester City edging them by a single point.

Despite falling short, Cox said there would be no sense of negativity around Jurgen Klopp’s squad ahead of their clash with Tottenham in Madrid on June 1.

“I don’t think they need to pick themselves up,” Cox told Press Association Sport. “Winning the Premier League wasn’t in their compass because Manchester City won the last 14 games.

“Liverpool won all their games and still finished one point behind. Liverpool did all they possibly could and they made the European final, which Manchester City didn’t.

“OK, they didn’t win the league, but there’s a huge plus in reaching the Champions League final and another big plus if they win that. I don’t think they need to worry one little bit.”

Liverpool finished the season with a 2-0 win over Wolves, their ninth straight win in the league, but Manchester City came from behind to win 4-1 at Brighton on the final day to clinch the title.

Cox said the key for players was knowing they did all they could and, by posting the highest points tally not to win the title in history, Liverpool have certainly done that.

“You’ve got to look at the things they can control,” he said. “They can’t control Manchester City, short of sabotage, so they just have to focus on their own performances and they did that brilliantly.

“They just happened to be competing with a team that always got its nose in front and they couldn’t have done any more about it.

“If they win the Champions League in early June, having finished second, there will be an interesting discussion to be had about who was the best team in England.”

While the Champions League offers Liverpool the opportunity to ensure they do not end the season empty-handed, Klopp will also be aware of the need to convince his players they can go one better in the league next season.

“The things they can control are their own performances, their own work on the training ground, and that’s where Jurgen Klopp comes into his own,” Cox said. “If they’re going to dwell on yesterday for much more than 48 hours, they’re doing the wrong thing.

“They’ve got to look forward. I think Liverpool will start the final as favourites and then it’s up to Klopp, with his coaches and maybe some outside experts, to look at the current crop of players and decide if they’re good enough, but damn it they were good enough to get 97 points.”

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