Sunday 18 March 2018

Jurgen Klopp desperate to repair his record of falling at last hurdle

German admits final defeats are stain on CV ahead of Seville clash

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp answers questions at a press conference yesterday (Getty Images)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp answers questions at a press conference yesterday (Getty Images)

Chris Bascombe

Jurgen Klopp seeks to enshrine his place in Liverpool history tonight believing he must still prove he is a "winner".

In a candid admission ahead of the Europa League final with Sevilla, Klopp spoke of his determination to reverse a depressing record in major finals.

He has lost his last four in consecutive seasons, including the League Cup showpiece with Liverpool and his last European final for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich in 2013.

"I'm not sure if I am a winner but I want to win. Really. I had to learn in my life to accept defeats. It doesn't feel too good," said Klopp.

"You could say it is better to go out in the semi-final so it doesn't hurt so much if you lose the final, but being in the final is the opportunity.


"Someone will mention it. Someone will write it that I didn't win too much.

"That is the truth but very often I was in a final against a team that is actually a little bit better. At home I have a little too many silver medals, that's true, but it's better than no medals. For me, when you try hard, and keep trying, then you get there eventually."

Klopp won the German Cup in 2012 - and of course he is a double Bundesliga champion - but two Wembley setbacks and two German Cup final losses hurt.

"We came there because we were overperforming and we got to the final," said Klopp. "Then in the final you have the best team against you and you think, 'Oh my God that is quite difficult', but even then we played our best. Like the Champions League final. We were really competitive.

"Now Sevilla is a really good side but they are not better than we are. It is not like Seville are up there and we are down here and we have to bring them back down with some tactical movements. No. If we play our best, it is quite difficult to play against us, especially to beat us."

Klopp has not only embraced the weight of expectation since moving to Anfield, he has urged his players to take inspiration from his club's previous triumphs and now wants them to become legends. He believes this is just the start for his new-look team.

"It is a big opportunity. It is a big chance but it is not the last chance in our life," he said. "I learnt quite early in my life that there is always another chance if you take the right information.

"If someone thinks if we win the final then everything will be wonderful in the future then, well, come on. It is only one title then next year we have to go on.

"If somebody thinks if we don't win it and everything is rubbish from now on, then, what can I say? If you make the pressure that big how can you move in a game? How can you walk? It is hard to breathe. Is it our only chance in life and if we don't take it then everything will be rubbish afterwards? It doesn't work like this.

"If you want to get to the highest level you need to be ready to fall really deep. We are far away from the end of a development.

"This team has the hunger, 100pc. I can create something, I can make a plan, I can say a few things, but it is down to the players. We are only here because of the players, nobody else.

"If you could see inside the players you would see it. It is not about motivation any more. It is not possible to have more. We only have to handle it. That is all. We have to take it. Be brave.

"It is a wonderful story to tell your grandchildren when you are old about being a Liverpool legend. How it feels to be a Liverpool legend I have no idea. But it is one of the best things you can feel in football."

The stakes have been raised with the addition of a Champions League place for the winner, although Klopp says that is secondary to silverware.


"In my opinion, we are really in a perfect moment to play a final," he said. "That doesn't mean all is already done. No, it's far away from this. This hard, intensive seven months feels like it should end in a final.

"Usually the problem for all teams is that a final is the last game of the season so it has been a long time until then. But nobody feels the intensity of the Premier League season in this moment. We have the breath of fresh air.

"There is no doubt about our quality; no doubt about the opportunity we have. We will be a real competitor. Everything is prepared."

And how would Klopp respond to becoming the sixth Liverpool manager to win a European trophy?

"A nice party," he said. "I'm quite good at celebrating things. It is long ago that I celebrated something really so I'm ready." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Liverpool v Sevilla, Live, Setanta Ire/BT Sport, 7.45

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