Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp hails "outstanding" 76-point Premier League finish

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp hails "outstanding" 76-point Premier League finish

Jürgen Klopp believes the points tally that his Liverpool side finished the 2016-17 Premier League season on is an "outstanding" number as he looked ahead already to next season.

Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp hailed Liverpool's final points total of 76 for the Premier League season as "outstanding" after a 3-0 final day victory over already-relegated Middlesbrough.

The Reds had to beat Boro to ensure a top-four finish but were in danger of being threatened as the visitors defended deep and in numbers to limit the number of openings at Anfield.

But Georginio Wijnaldum broke the deadlock at the end of a tense first-half, before strikes from Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana ensured a more comfortable second-half.

That helped guarantee Liverpool their spot in the Champions League play-off round next season but also gave them a 76-point tally to end the campaign, a total they have bettered only four times since 1990.

Liverpool showed that they deserved top-four, argues Klopp

The Liverpool manager admitted that he wasn't sure whether a top-four finish was "the target of all the supporters" but declared it "pretty much the second best."

"For a few weeks we knew that was the maximum we can achieve and we did it," Klopp continued, insisting that qualifying for the Champions League play-off round "feels really outstandingly good at the moment."

He added that "everything is good in this club at the moment" but that they "have to deliver results" because "feeling on a good way is one thing" while "showing you're on a good way is another."

Klopp said: "I think again we showed today that we deserve this position. 76 points, that's an outstanding number. We all know what happened in January, I'm not sure all of us agree why [it did], but the explanation is injuries and too many games."

He acknowledged that they now "cannot change" it but felt that "the problem in February" was how Liverpool's "suffered from the games in January" and took until March to get "back on track."

But Klopp believes his side have "learned a lot in this year" that they "can use" next term, adding: "Usually at the end of the season you're kind of tired but I could start, and don't tell the players this, tomorrow because I'm already looking forward to what we can do."

He insisted he is "really looking forward" to the new campaign because they "can qualify" for the Champions League group stages and he also vowed that "it will be a good pre-season."

"I'm really proud of the boys, they did well," Klopp commented on Liverpool's performance against Boro, acknowledging that they "became a little bit more stiff" after "a good start" to the game.

The Reds boss said that naturally "if you don't score in these moments, you get a bit more stiff" and "feel the intensity of all the ways", stating that Steve Agnew's visitors "defended deep" and Liverpool suffered from "not good timing."

"We scored this one goal but the main target was to defend better in the second-half, because we thought pretty much each long ball was half a counter-attack," Klopp said, insisting it "makes no sense when you have the ball 90 per-cent [of the time]."

He said that Liverpool also wanted to improve the "timing" in all of their movements because they "had the right positions but in the wrong moment", adding: "After the second goal, I think everybody could see how good we can be. It was never easy, but it looked then very good. That's probably what everybody wished before we started. Now we have it, and we should celebrate it."

Reds boss: We could have achieved more without injuries, but we did well

Liverpool had harboured hopes for a title challenge over the festive period when a New Year's Eve win at home to Manchester City put them six points behind leaders Chelsea.

But injuries and the absence of Sadio Mané at the African Cup of Nations proved costly, with Klopp declaring that had he had key players available the season may have panned out differently.

He insisted that they didn't think about targets at the start of the season but that discreetly it was to qualify for the Champions League as he said: "We all know we had no European football so for us it was not that [much of] an advantage because we had injuries. Without injuries like Chelsea, I don't want to make it too big [but] we could have had a few points more and it would have looked a little different."

Klopp bemoaned that Liverpool "had these injuries" although he said that his team "were ready" from "the first part of the season" to challenge come May, but admitted it "doesn't mean anything" in that moment because "there are a lot of games to go" and they had a "really long" season. 

Asked about the moment he knew Liverpool could finish in the top-four, he continued: "I don't know the specific moment but I knew after we beat Arsenal [on the opening day] there in this manner, it should be possible."

He praised his players for playing "really outstandingly good football" and showing what they can do in "a lot of games." 

"When you don't do it anymore, everybody is asking why, why is it not that fluent anymore and where is the plan B, C and D? We always knew that the way is OK," Klopp said, acknowledging they had to "accept a few parts" their situation and "do work on the other parts" - adding: "That's what we did. In the end, 76 points is really difficult to get and we have them, so good."

Klopp also believes his side were guilty of not being "confident enough in general" as he explained: "Obviously we are not confident enough in general, that’s how it is. Always when something doesn't work it always feel like something slips through your fingers, so it’s like 'Oh, again like this, again like this'."

He said that consequently he is "really happy" that Liverpool "achieved a little bit of something" that they "didn't achieve in the past too often", insisting he is "interested in the way" and talking of the benefits it can have on the club's development.

"You need to feel the improvement, you need to feel the next step, that it’s right," he said. "I'm really happy about the situation and to learn. I hope it has given us a little bit more confidence in general and we can work with this. That will be good."