Klopp: Last year was real pressure, this season is fun
Jurgen Klopp says the pressure to win the Champions League is incomparable to the tension he felt when scrambling to ensure Liverpool returned to the competition.
The Anfield coach insists he has never had as much fun on Merseyside as during this season, shrugging off the stress of a title and European bid by recalling the anxious moments that were overcome to guide the club back on to the biggest stage.
As he prepared for the first leg of the quarter-final with Porto at Anfield tonight (8.0), Klopp claimed he was leading the team he dreamed of when an aspiring coach.
When asked if he could enjoy the European run as much as last year given the distraction of the Premier League race, he was unequivocal.
"Yes, 100 per cent," he said. "This is completely different. I love this season much more. I know the most important thing is that we need money for next year. That means we have to qualify for the Champions League.
"That is real pressure. If you are not for sure in the Champions League it changes everything - you can talk about this and that with the owners but you pretty much don't have to ask them because we don't spend money we don't have."
Liverpool are effectively guaranteed finishing in the top two, a contrast to this stage a year ago when they stumbled towards the line in the race for fourth.
"Last year, we had proper pressure in the last part of the season," said Klopp, who is expected to use James Milner at left back to replace the suspended Andy Robertson.
"Chelsea were winning each game and we were drawing after being 10 points ahead.
"Then in the end we had to win the last game again to qualify for the Champions League. We had pressure. Different pressure."