Sunday 22 September 2019

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists Christmas title talk is 'bulls***'

Jurgen Klopp makes a point in typically forthright fashion during training. Photo: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Jurgen Klopp makes a point in typically forthright fashion during training. Photo: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Mike Whalley

Jurgen Klopp has told anyone feeling nervous about Liverpool's Premier League title chances to go on holiday for the next five months.

The Liverpool manager insists that it is far too early to be thinking about decisive moments in the race to be crowned champions, even though his team have opened up a four-point lead going into today's home match against Newcastle United.

Klopp also dismissed statistics about previous Christmas Day leaders going on to win the league as "bull****" and claimed that he felt nothing when main rivals Manchester City lost at home to Crystal Palace last Saturday.

The manager is trying to head off hysteria at the prospect of Liverpool becoming English champions for the first time since 1990, even saying that if he sees any television interviewers asking his players about their title chances, he will knock the microphone out of their hand.

Liverpool, who won 2-0 at Wolves last Friday, are unbeaten after 18 games, having dropped only six points all season; it is their best performance at this stage of a campaign in the club's history.

However, although Klopp won two Bundesliga titles as manager of Borussia Dortmund, in 2011 and 2012, his squad are light on that kind of experience; only James Milner, with Manchester City, and Daniel Sturridge, with Chelsea, have Premier League medals.

Crazy

Klopp said: "Somebody already asked me after the Wolves game: 'Is it yours to lose?' He asked me that! Wow! That is really crazy.

"If you want to have guarantees, go for another sport. If you want to be sure that in May it will be something really special but you don't want to see the way to that day, then take a holiday.

"I don't know where the Premier League is not broadcast but find a little country where it is not shown and go there. If you want to enjoy the ride, and want to try everything you can to be as successful as possible, then welcome, let's go for it."

In eight of the past 10 seasons, the Premier League leaders on Christmas Day have ended the season as champions.

However, in the two seasons that did not follow that trend, Liverpool were the Christmas leaders - in 2008-'09, when Manchester United won the league, and 2013-'14, when Manchester City became champions.

But Klopp said: "I've heard how many times in the last 10 years that when you're first at Christmas you win the title, but only Liverpool weren't. It's all bull**** stories. What is it? What does it mean? It's a different team, a different time, everything was different. It's not interesting.

"It's not interesting yet. We don't watch the table first thing in the morning or anything like that. I didn't expect that City would lose against Crystal Palace, of course not. When City lost 3-2 then I got all these messages from friends saying, 'Wow, unbelievable, blah blah blah', and I don't even feel it.

"If you are in the job, you know there are still 20 games to play. I've been a sportsman since I was five years old, running races, athletics, and if you think after 300m, 'I have him', then you are silly and you will never win."

Klopp is adamant that there is no pressure on his team, only the excitement of trying to end a 29-season wait to be champions.

He said: "There is no pressure, I don't see the pressure. Yes there is pressure because we want to win against Newcastle and that is difficult enough.

"If I listen to whoever broadcasts the game and I see someone in a pre-match interview asking a player about (what might happen in) May and stuff like that, I would take the mike and throw it somewhere.

"Only because that is not fair. We have to play football, not think about what we can do in the summer. All of the games are very difficult and just because we won a few of them doesn't mean it was easy.

"They are really difficult and need all our focus. There is no test for the boys. If we are not first in the table on January 3, for example, then it would probably mean we have lost a game. Does that mean that everything we have done so far is s***?"

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