Friday 14 December 2018

'We are still Rocky Balboa and not Ivan Drago' - Jurgen Klopp weighs in on Liverpool's title challenge

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Liverpool are targeting Premier League glory this year - but maintained that his side are still the Rocky Balboa to Man City's Ivan Drago.

Klopp used a typically colourful analogy as he discussed the upcoming season ahead of Liverpool's opening game against West Ham, which takes place on Sunday, likening is team to the underdog boxer played by Sylvester Stallone in this year's battle for the title.

The Reds have been installed as second favourites behind champions Man City following a summer spending spree that saw the club bring in goalkeeper Alisson, midfielders Naby Keita and Fabinho and attacker Xherdan Shaqiri.

Expectations are now rising that Liverpool could win a first league crown since 1990 and although Klopp says that overtaking Pep Guardiola's side is the goal, he added that his team are still very much the underdogs.

"The plan is that we really go for it," Klopp said.

"We want to be, it’s clear for ages, champions of England. But what about the other clubs? The champions are Manchester City; they didn’t lose any player and they brought in Mahrez, so that doesn’t make them weaker. We are still Rocky Balboa and not Ivan Drago. We are the ones who have to do more and fight more – that must be our attitude."

In a break with recent history, Liverpool outspent their rivals during the summer as they look to improve on last season where they reached the Champions League decider. Klopp is confident that he has built a strong squad that can compete on multiple fronts this season.

"My own expectations are always pretty high: make the best out of it, get everything out of it, try to reach the highest," Klopp said.

"It’s pretty normal that there would be one point where we spent a bit more money. In the last few years I sat here and had to defend our transfer behaviour: that we sold more than we brought in. But that all made sense – we had to create a squad which is strong enough and wide enough to cope with the Premier League and to be as successful as possible.

"Step by step, we come closer. People ask me already if it’s the best squad I’ve ever had. I don’t think about that because it’s not what we have now, it’s about what we make of it, how often we deliver, how often we bring ourselves in a mood to fight against all these Premier League teams who all want to have our points. We have to be ready to fight."

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