Georginio Wijnaldum believes Liverpool’s scratchy win at Sheffield United is an example of the progress being made under Jurgen Klopp.
While winning the Champions League in June was hugely significant in terms of Klopp securing his first trophy, there are other factors by which the development of his squad can be measured.
Last season, when they missed out on a first title since 1990 by a single point, Liverpool drew seven matches – which included West Ham, Leicester and Everton.
They have started this campaign with seven successive wins, opening up a five-point gap over Manchester City, but the 1-0 victory at Bramall Lane was the toughest examination they have faced so far.
“Every win feels like a big win now. This was really difficult but we still won it,” said Wijnaldum, whose 70th-minute volley slipped through the grasp and legs of on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
“You see we make progression with what we did. Back in previous years we had to play good to win the games. Now we play bad and still win games.
“When you comes to teams like this it is always going to be hard. We went to Burnley back in the day and it was really difficult.
“This season we won there but that was also because we put a lot of effort in. On the other side we also know we have the quality to play.
“I think progress we have made is that we win the games we haven’t played well in.
“Even last season, towards the end, we didn’t play really good but we were just trying to collect as many points as possible.
“Hopefully when we don’t play well we can still win games.
“Up to now it has been good but we have to make sure it stays like that. We still have to have the progression and do even better.”
Much of Liverpool’s labouring was down to the hard work and organisation United have developed under Chris Wilder.
It succeeded in stifling the Reds’ famed front three and this was the first league match since the 2-0 victory over Cardiff on April 21 in which Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane did not score.
Wijnaldum was on target on that occasion too but he does not feel there is any added responsibility on the midfielders to chip in with goals.
“No, I don’t really think about that. Everyone is responsible,” added the Holland international.
“We are trying to put everyone in position but it’s not always easy to come into the box and sometimes there are enough people in the box so you can’t go in. We try to mix up everything.
“I love them (scoring a rare away goal – only his third out of 22 league goals) because we were under pressure and to score a goal it is good.”
Despite the platitudes his side received for the way they stymied Liverpool Wilder was unhappy they could not take advantage.
“I am not bothered about pride, I am bothered about the result. Liverpool had an off day and I think we missed an opportunity,” he said.
“We have had big moments in the game but we did not take them. We had to jump all over it and we didn’t.
“Points are the most important thing and we did not get the points we deserved.”