Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has urged his players to create new history for the club rather than be burdened by tales of its trophied past.
The Reds went to the top of the table for the first time since May 2014 with Sunday’s win over Watford and as the Premier League‘s leading goalscorers, having lost just once in 11 matches, they are viewed as genuine title contenders.
It has been more than 26 years since Liverpool won the last of their 18 league championships and having come so close three seasons ago, eventually being pipped by Manchester City, expectations are growing about a return to the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s.
But Klopp insists previous success should have no bearing on what his current side are doing now—even if comparisons are already being made with the 1990 side which featured some Liverpool greats like Alan Hansen, Ian Rush and John Barnes.
“It’s a really good moment and I know that everybody compares with the past, especially at Liverpool,” he told LiverpoolFC.com.
“Three years ago, 10, five, 25 years ago—but this team is new, we are new.
“Our story started a few months ago so you cannot compare us with anyone else.
“You cannot carry the history on our backs, we should feel free for creating something in the near future.
“If everybody wants to say ‘we wait now for 20-something years for silverware’ or whatever, we can say ‘OK, we [have] tried, actually, only since a year’.
“So that gives us the freedom to look in the future quite optimistically.”
The club has already started looking to its future by handing new contracts to three of its most promising youngsters.
Stewart, aged 23, has already made 17 appearances for the first team while Alexander-Arnold, 18, made his debut in last month’s EFL Cup victory over Tottenham.
Woodburn, 17, featured in a couple of pre-season friendlies and has continued to impress for the under-23s.
“This is really positive news of course, and it’s brilliant we have acted decisively to show our intent with our young players,” Klopp said.
“All three of these players are big talents and are at different stages of their development, but it is development that is key and they must continue to learn and improve to achieve their full potential.
“News like today’s makes it exciting for me and the first-team staff that their development will continue with us at LFC.”
Klopp thinks it will provide encouragement to other academy youngsters with ambitions to break into the first team now they can see there is a route for them to make the step up.
The German has invited many of the academy players to train with the first team at Melwood, particularly during the international breaks when he is low on numbers, and that is helping to ease the transition.
“The most important thing for us is the pathway to the first team,” he added.
“I think we have shown that with the work Alex (Inglethorpe, academy director) and his staff do we offer a clear pathway to first-team football if the players embrace what is on offer for them.
“I cannot praise [the academy] enough for the culture and environment they have there. It is perfect.
“The players know that it’s not just about ability: it’s application and a willingness to keep learning.”