Jurgen Klopp is prepared for the “obvious bullshit” from the English press if his Liverpool side fail to start next season’s title defence as strongly as they won it.
The Reds are Premier League champions for the first time, but this is not the first league title Klopp has won in his career.
He led Borussia Dortmund to their first Bundesliga triumph in nine years when they won the German top flight in 2010/11, and then retained it the following season.
It was a spell that put Klopp on the map in terms of Europe’s best coaches, furnished by a run to the Champions League final the following season, and should help him steel his Liverpool side for their own defence.
Not that he sees it that way, instead preferring to set next season’s objective as “attacking” the title, but either way, speaking ahead of Sunday’s visit of Aston Villa, he was questioned on his experience of back-to-back successes.
“Look, sometimes in life you need to have the problem first, before you can find the solution for it,” he said, when asked if there would be an issue motivating his champions.
“Preparing solutions constantly for problems you will never have makes no sense.
“We didn’t do anything differently. We lost a player, I think Nuri Sahin at least that year, and brought in Ilkay Gundogan, who was obviously not a bad replacement.
“So we didn’t do anything different, but what we did do is just trained hard, we were positive about our future.
“We didn’t expect to [just] win the league again, because there was no chance. There was a big competitor, there was Bayern Munich, and usually if you beat them they strike back with all they have. That’s not different here.
“After five matchdays [in 2011/12], I’m pretty sure we were seventh in the league, and your colleagues in Germany were throwing at us with all they found.
“Like ‘lost focus’, ‘not greedy enough any more’, ‘still celebrating’, all the obvious bullshit.
“Then we won a game away at Mainz, 1-0, with a really scruffy goal, a 50-yard shot that rolled through all the legs, and we knew in that moment that was, for us, the step in that season.
“We were not bad in the beginning, we just did not get the results. That can happen in football.
“From that moment on, this team from Dortmund broke all the records so far in Germany, 81 points in the end, not losing for 23 games or something like that.
“We were really in it, because we were still good, and the boys were 100 percent in it.
“And we would have had a chance the year after, but then the team looked completely different. That’s how it is.
“You don’t have to change, you have to do the good things and improve the not-so-good things. That’s what you have to do all the time.
“It’s not important what you won last year, it’s all about what you maybe can win next year.
“We never felt that we have to win the league to show the world we are still ‘on it’, because there’s a competition, all the other teams can improve.
“It was a great season [for Dortmund], but for moments it didn’t look like it and everybody started directly criticising.
“So I’m prepared for all the things you will say about us if the next season doesn’t start as it should start.
“But as long as I see in the eyes of my boys that they are ready, that will have absolutely no influence on what we will do.”
This Liverpool side is undoubtedly stronger than the Dortmund side that won consecutive Bundesliga titles under Klopp’s charge, and the manager himself will attest that he is an improved leader.
But the strength of competition next season, from the likes Man City, Chelsea and Man United, ensures that Klopp is relying on the mentality of his squad to “strike back” and win again.
“I don’t expect perfection from my players. I want to play the next season as good as possible, that’s what I expect,” he continued.
“If you can be very successful—first, second or whatever—by losing five games, I would be surprised. Or six, seven, eight games like City, I would be surprised.
“But if that’s possible, I would take that—after the season, not around these five, six, seven, eight games!
“I don’t know exactly how it will be, when I look at the league now, I see so many teams who are really improving in this moment.
“It’s a difficult time, so we don’t know who takes risks with transfers, who doesn’t do that, all this kind of stuff. We will see that.
“We will make sure we are ready for a proper competition and a proper challenge, that’s what I can expect, and not that we either become champions from winning 38 games or I’m not happy anymore.
“The situation is like the situation is, we have to make the best of it and that is what we will do.
“These boys are exceptional characters, and I don’t even doubt them 100 percent. I trust them 100 percent.
“They are not perfect, and they make a lot of mistakes and sometimes they are more disguised than in other moments, but in the end they always strike back.
“Since I’ve known them, they’ve always improved, they’ve always struck back, they always understand, they are always thoughtful, they think about the stuff.
“So we go. What we get for it, we never knew before and we will not know next year.
“That’s why I said we will not defend the title, we will attack the next one, without knowing if we get it.”