Tuesday 20 March 2018

'The title is not my biggest problem' - Jurgen Klopp lowers expectations for Liverpool fans

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp looks dejected
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp looks dejected

Mark Staniforth

Jurgen Klopp has told his players to forget about focusing on the Champions League and accept all the criticism that will come their way after Saturday's humiliating 2-0 defeat at Hull.

Goals from Alfred N'Diaye and Oumar Niasse sent the relegation-threatened Tigers on the way to a stunning triumph and extended Klopp's dismal record in 2017 to one win in 10 games.

Another defeat leaves Liverpool hanging onto their top four place by their fingertips and Klopp believes the focus must shift as he tries to repair and rebuild the shattered confidence in his camp.

Klopp said: "A week ago I spoke about expectations and said we were still allowed to have a positive look on the situation because we are still fourth in the league.

"But after a game like this we have to take all the criticism because we expect more from ourselves and we have to show more than we did today, and it is my responsibility to make it possible.

"The Champions League is a big, big target but it is so difficult because there are so many challengers. After today's performance we don't have to think about this - we have to show now that we can work together and be ready to go for everything."

Klopp insisted he saw some positive reaction early in the second half with a spell of intense pressure, but accepted he was still at a loss to find a reason for the opening 45-minute display.

He added: "We didn't play the first half as we should have played. When you saw them in the second half you thought, if we had played from the beginning like this, it would have made it more difficult for Hull to cope.

"Usually after a few minutes or half an hour after a game you feel better because you have had the chance to think about things and then you start answering questions. But this time I don't feel better."

Liverpool will drop out of the top four if Manchester City avoid defeat against Swansea on Sunday, and if United win away to Leicester they will only be one point behind.

“The title is not my biggest problem. I want to play much better football with my team,” Klopp added.

“But it’s not about talking about where we want to be. We have to show it. We have shown it a few times this season but obviously it is a long time since we showed it consistently.

“That’s what we have to change immediately. The Champions League is an outstanding, big, big target. Fantastic. So many teams want to play there but to qualify for the Champions League from England is difficult. But on performances like today, we don’t have to talk about this.”

Hull boss Marco Silva hailed a growing belief within his squad that they can beat the drop but insisted he would not be getting carried away despite this week's four-point haul against Klopp's men and Manchester United.

Silva said: "Of course I'm happy with our performance - my team showed a fantastic attitude and fantastic spirit, and the important thing is to keep focus and continue to take more points.

"We need to keep sight of our goal because we have only won three points and nothing more. But this shows the players that this is the right way and they can believe. This is important because when the players don't believe it is impossible."

New boys N'Diaye and Kamil Grosicki played a significant part in the Tigers' success and Silva admitted he had handed the pair their full debuts earlier than he might have wished.

They took their places in the starting line-up four days after completing deadline day deals along with Italian Andrea Ranocchia, who was only upgraded from the bench after Michael Dawson sustained a calf injury in the warm-up.

Silva added: "I would have preferred to give our new signings more time to work with the team but we didn't have the time.

"N'Diaye and Grosicki only worked with me for two days and normally I wouldn't put them in the first 11, but we need these players to improve our squad. Of course I know that in the next games they will improve like all the other players."

Press Association

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