Jurgen Klopp was annoyed at persistent questions of his side’s focus during the loss at Man City, saying he saw the right approach from his team—and found support in an unlikely place from Roy Keane.
City were unquestionably the better team over the 90 minutes and the 4-0 scoreline was testament to that, with Liverpool clearly feeling the effects in some areas of their game from a week of celebrations.
But there was also an obvious attempt by the Reds to play their usual game: full-strength lineup, a good start to the game, chances created and plenty of pressing which forced City into errors.
A lack of clinical edge and City being entirely ruthless meant the game ran away from Liverpool nonetheless, but the boss wasn’t having any questions about his team essentially being hungover.
“If you want to lead the story in the direction that we were not focused on that game, then do it,” he said to Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves.
“I saw a brilliant attitude. I saw fight. We didn’t behave like somebody who became champions a week ago.”
And Klopp’s assessment was backed up by former Manchester United captain Keane, who himself enjoyed a few title wins and was familiar with the inevitable drop-off which comes when focus slips in the build-up to games after the trophy is secured—but pointed out the Reds’ intent remained on show.
“They had chances and they were just lacking concentration,” he said on Sky after full time.
“The effort was there and we watched the game live, and I think Liverpool’s attitude was fine. It’s human nature that they were gonna slack off.
“It’s human nature. I was fortunate enough to play in some good teams where you won the league with two games to go, and you do switch off.
“You end up at the pub for a week or two and you’re trying to get back in the swing of things. It’s different for City tonight because they’ve got other competitions.
“The reason they’re champions and why they’ll be competing for the next couple of years is because of that interview. He [Klopp] is fuming.
“For me, it was nothing to do with the questions he was being asked, it was because his team got beat. He’s obviously going to defend his team, but no top manager likes to get beat 4-0.
“That’s why they’re champions. They’re fuming to being beaten 4-0.”
While some have suggested City have ‘landed the first blow’ in next season’s title race with this big win, Keane’s point of view could just as easily see Liverpool benefit from the scoreline.
This game, effectively, didn’t matter—and next season’s first meeting between the two teams will do, with the Reds potentially looking for an even better response and performance due to the nature of this result.
As Keane said, that’s Klopp’s mentality, and that’s why Liverpool are champions.