Jurgen Klopp praised the efforts of his Liverpool players and said that the disappointment of missing out on the Premier League title would increase their desire to win the Champions League final on Saturday. His team had held their side of the bargain but Manchester City came from behind to claim their fourth title in five seasons.
Liverpool were given hope of claiming a 20th league title when Aston Villa went two goals ahead at City but the champions’ quick-fire three goals meant victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers went unrewarded. Klopp’s team accumulated 92 points but that was still one short of City’s total.
Losing out on the Premier League brought an end to any hopes of a Quadruple but Klopp instead that his treble chasers would turn their league deflation into a motivation when facing Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday.
“I can imagine it was much worse for the people at home watching on TV all over the world who were Liverpool fans,” Klopp said of the dramatic final afternoon of the Premier League season. “When Aston Villa were 2-0 up they were thinking: ‘Wow, it could really be.’ I was not really aware of it, but now I have heard the whole story after the game.
“With all the things that happened I’d have preferred it if they had been 5-0 up after 10 minutes, to be honest. Of course it makes it more difficult. The season was so close, so tight, moments, decisions, only one point apart. What I learned about life is that if you stay on track and keep going, you get the reward. Not today the maximum reward, but we will get it. But it’s up to us to keep going.”
Liverpool have played the maximum number of games possible for a club side this term and already collected the League Cup and FA Cup prior to this weekend’s Champions League final. Klopp highlighted that despite losing out to City, his team had put in a tremendous effort in the league, having reeled in all but one of the 14 points that City had over their rivals in January.
“This season is absolutely incredible and it doesn’t end today. It ends next week. And we will try absolutely everything,” Klopp added. “It’s never happened before that you are completely without knocks going into a final. We had our knocks, obviously. We now have five days to prepare the final and we face an incredibly experienced team, but that’s really OK. Losing the league today increases the desire to put it right next week.”
One of the knocks Klopp referred to belonged to Thiago Alcantara who exited proceedings prior to half-time with a suspected hamstring injury. The midfielder headed straight down the tunnel and was noticeably hobbling during the team’s lap of honour. It leaves Klopp sweating on the availability of two of his first-choice midfield as Fabinho is also in a race to be fit for the final.
On Thiago’s injury, Klopp said: “Not good but I cannot say more,” said Klopp on Thiago. “We want to wait until we know more about it and then you will get the information as well.”
The Liverpool manager also paid due credit to City. He said: “I’m proud but I’m disappointed as well. There are maybe worse scenarios: we could have been a point up and didn’t make it. That might feel even worse. It’s not cool, but it’s not completely unexpected. Congratulations to Man City, Pep Guardiola, all staff and all players of the club for being champions. We were close but in the end not close enough.”
'We should have finished differently'
Wolves finished the season in 10th place after taking just two points from their final seven games.
Manager Bruno Lage said: “I’m not pleased. If it was the first day of the season and people would say we did the season we did, everyone stays happy.
“But, in February, let’s fight for fourth place. When we missed that opportunity, let’s fight for sixth or seventh place. I think the fans of Wolves feel like me that we should have finished in a different way. If I have all the players fit maybe we can do that.”