Jürgen Klopp tells Liverpool ‘enjoy the journey’ as quadruple hunt goes on
For a manager close to winning so much Jürgen Klopp is remarkably sanguine about the risk of trophies slipping from his grasp over the next fortnight. Had he wanted guaranteed success the Liverpool manager would have accepted one of several job offers from Bayern Munich. Digging in and fighting for it suits his nature better.
Part two of the quadruple chase takes Liverpool to Wembley for the third time in four months on Saturday, seeking a first FA Cup triumph in 16 years. Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid. The strength of each opponent in the way of a historic achievement demonstrates the scale of Liverpool’s task and ensures there is no certainty to how the campaign will end. The high stakes and fine margins do not worry Klopp, who is so content that he managed two afternoon naps on Wednesday after Liverpool’s win at Aston Villa the night before.
“Which club should I go to, to have a different situation?” he says when asked about the challenges and stresses that the decisive final weeks of the season will bring. “The only thing I could do is ask Pep [Guardiola] if he is sick of all that winning and I take over at City. That wouldn’t work, I don’t want to do it. I could have gone to Bayern a few times, [where] I could have won more titles in my life, pretty sure I would say – a good chance at least. I didn’t do it. I had a contract here and I never did it.
“The world is not full of winners, the world is full of triers hopefully. And I try and sometimes I win with other people together. I am happy with that. I am not always positive; give me a second and I will find a reason for optimism, that’s probably true, but that’s it. This club went through incredibly tough periods and always hit back and if people can’t appreciate the time we are in or the team they have I would really feel for them, because it’s fantastic what the boys do.
“If you saw the Aston Villa game, the situation we are in, you could write books about the resilience of these boys. One-nil down, everything looks like: ‘Ah, this time.’ But no. We are three points away [from City] and seven goals. We will try. We cannot do more and I can enjoy that. If people can’t, I cannot change that.”
Winning the FA Cup “would mean the world to us” according to Klopp, though he readily admits to having no personal history with a competition celebrating its 150th anniversary. “I don’t have a lot of FA Cup final memories,” he says. “Do people get asked if they have any memories of the DFB-Pokal?” Klopp’s last game in charge of Borussia Dortmund was a DFB-Pokal final against Wolfsburg in May 2015. Kevin De Bruyne was among the Wolfsburg goalscorers in a 3-1 win that denied Klopp a fairytale farewell.
Seven years on and De Bruyne is still a thorn in the Liverpool manager’s side, scoring four times as City re-established a three point lead in the title race with a 5-1 rout of Wolves on Wednesday. In a week when City also announced the £51.5m signing of Erling Haaland, and Sadio Mané was linked with Bayern, future challenges to Liverpool were made clear, if they were not already. Klopp’s priority is the present, however, and savouring every moment of a remarkable pursuit.
“If we are only happy when we are winning in the end, whenever your race finishes, what life would that be?” he says. “When I say, ‘Enjoy the journey’, I mean it. Enjoy the journey because there have been so many great moments already.
“If we stop now it’s not great that we didn’t win the FA Cup final and didn’t win the Champions League final and came second in the Premier League. Forget that and just say: ‘Wow, that was a ride.’
“We only cause ourselves problems as human beings. ‘Don’t come home without a quadruple,’ for example – then you will never be happy. If that is the only way to satisfy you that is really difficult. Let’s give it a go. Football games are sometimes decided by single players; most of the time they are decided by the whole performance and we can work on the whole performance and have world-class players – and we will have world-class players.
“It is not what other teams are doing and like: ‘God, they signed him.’ I never thought that, to be honest. When they took a player from me and put him there, in Germany quite frequently, it gives them 20% extra, and us minus 20%, and that’s not cool. But as long as they don’t pick from us I’m fine.”
Klopp adds: “It [the quadruple] has never been done before so it’s like the first step on whichever island. We know the decisive part is coming now. Warming up is finished and we have rhythm, finally. Now we can go for it.”