Liverpool’s route to the cusp of a Premier League title has not been handed to them, for Jurgen Klopp it’s a product of relentless hard work.
Prior to the Reds’ trip to Madrid for the last-16 of the Champions League, Liverpool had tasted defeat just twice in 41 games across all competitions this season – which includes the League Cup tie at Aston Villa.
But after succumbing to a 1-0 loss to Diego Simeone’s side, Klopp’s men went on to suffer another two defeats – resulting in their unbeaten run in the league to end and an exit from the FA Cup.
The string of results and the poor nature of performances which led them there caused an overreaction or two, with the Reds falling victim to their own consistently high standards.
A 2-1 win over Bournemouth last time out steered the ship back on course, and while little has derailed Liverpool in recent times, the need to consistently work hard to achieve the success they have to date ensures the Reds are used to fighting for what they want most.
“It’s very important that you keep your nerve, but I was never worried about that,” Klopp said.
“It’s not just about keeping your nerves, it’s about fighting all the stuff that works against you at the moment.
“True, for one-and-a-half years, not a lot of these things worked against us but in the last two weeks, they did. So we have to fight them.
“We can’t ignore them and think they won’t happen again. We aren’t that kind of team or that kind of club.
“We’ve always had to work really hard for all the things we have got. I saw this on Saturday, and am more than happy.”
And Liverpool’s efforts against the Cherries moved them one step closer to the title, with Man City’s subsequent defeat to Man United closing the distance even further – with just six points needed.
But to reach the 82 point mark after 29 games has required the efforts of the entire squad, with James Milner at the heart of the latest victory with an invaluable goal-line clearance late in the piece.
The boss was full of praise for Milner, who alongside Jordan Henderson and a handful of others, have found themselves on the end of some hefty criticism during their time at the club – much to the bemusement of the manager.
“Why would we extend the contract of a 34-year-old by two years if he’s not incredibly important to everything that we do?” he added.
“I have no clue how somebody can doubt these boys, to be honest.
“But if it happens, then thank God it isn’t my problem.
“People can say what they want, I hope they don’t do it too harshly, but I’ll never get that information and will never use it. I make my own decisions.
“In no team, whether it’s a football team or in an office or whatever part of life, can you have people who are brilliant all in the same area. It just doesn’t work.
“If you have somebody who moves left or right, then you have no answers any more. You need a mix of personalities.”