By Carl Markham, PA
Jurgen Klopp dismissed Pep Guardiola’s assertion everyone wants Liverpool to win the Premier League and believes his Manchester City counterpart’s comments stemmed from the emotion of a tight title race – something the German admits has happened to him.
After Sunday’s 5-0 demolition of Newcastle which moved the defending champions three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table, Guardiola said “Everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone.
“Of course because Liverpool has an incredible history in European competition – not in the Premier League, because they have won one in 30 years – but it is not a problem at all.”
It seemed an odd outburst from the City boss, whose side’s position was strengthened by results at the weekend which saw Liverpool drop points in a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham.
However, Klopp said it was a mistake all managers made at some point, and he had done exactly the same on Saturday after making comments about Antonio Conte’s style at Spurs.
“I live in Liverpool so, yes, here a lot of people want us to win the league – that’s true – but even here only it’s probably only 50 per cent because the other people (Everton) were involved in another fight (relegation),” said the Liverpool boss on Guardiola’s comments.
“I have no idea if the whole country is supporting us, I don’t know that.
“It is not the feeling I get when we go to other places and play there, it is actually the opposite, but maybe he knows more about that than me.”
He added: “I had this experience recently; after a game we are obviously massively influenced by the game, by the situation.
“I said after the (Spurs) game ‘They play like they play and are still only fifth’. would I say it again? No. It felt good in that moment but it was wrong.
😬 It's going right to the wire at the top and bottom pic.twitter.com/yd9dq8357n
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 8, 2022
“But it was just my feeling in that moment and I could not respect Antonio more and what he is doing and how he organises teams.
“I don’t know exactly which situation Pep was in, after getting knocked of the Champions League that is obviously already difficult enough to take, but then of course Liverpool made it to the final and then you have these things like ‘They only played Villarreal, we played Real’ and then you say what you say.
“And he is right, on top of it. I was right about Tottenham, and he was right we won the Premier League only once.”
Liverpool’s draw against Spurs – the first time they had not won at home since October and only the third time they had dropped points in 2022 – felt like a defeat such is the small margin for error at this stage of the season.
Klopp’s side now need to make up three points on City while also closing the gap in goal difference in their remaining three matches, and that appears a tall order.
However, the Liverpool manager – who famously promised to turn fans from doubters to believers at his very first press conference – arrived at the club’s training ground on Monday determined to spread positivity.
“As far as they (City) are not reachable, why should we stop believing? There are obviously different perspectives.
“We can take it as it was and say ‘We drew, they won’. It makes it three points and the goal difference has changed obviously as well.
A wholly positive mindset 🧠
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 9, 2022
“Or you see it like this; that we were six points behind and they lost and we won and the rest is exactly the same and we would be flying and couldn’t wait to play Aston Villa and bring the next three points.
“As human beings, we can decide for ourselves how we see it. There are some facts but we are allowed to ignore them.
“I try to help the boys, to see it like me and invite everyone else as well: let’s just assume that we won the last game and they lost.
“It doesn’t make the Aston Villa game a little bit easier, not at all, but it gives you a nicer perspective and that’s what is important as well.”
Klopp comes up against former Reds captain Steven Gerrard on Tuesday and admits he could one day succeed him in the job.
“I have no idea. My possible successor? Yes, of course it is possible Stevie will be managing here one day,” he said.
“It is not my decision to make, it is about other parties and Stevie as well, but I think it is possible.”