Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he never lost belief his squad would return to top form after last season’s slump.
Within a few months of winning their first title for 30 years, the Reds lost Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to season-ending injuries, while his only other senior centre-back Joel Matip’s campaign ended in January.
In a Covid-impacted year Klopp’s side were never in a proper position to defend their crown after losing six matches at home – having previously been unbeaten at Anfield for 68 matches.
For a long time it looked like they would miss out on Champions League football, but eight wins in a 10-match unbeaten end to the season saw them finish third.
With a fully-fit squad and Mohamed Salah on fire the team are back to their scintillating best and on their longest unbeaten run (23 games) for 36 years – but it is nothing less than than the manager expected.
“I didn’t doubt it but I didn’t really think about it,” he said on Liverpool’s ability to regain top form.
“It was always clear last year, just you all forgot it, how massive a difference it is when you lose pretty much your whole defence in October.
“When we solve that problem, it was clear we will be better again and that is the situation again. It doesn’t mean we will win but it gives us a chance.
“In life it is really important to stay calm when everybody is really excited and that is what we try to do, to make the right decisions in these moments.”
The culture Klopp has created at the club means no one is happy to settle just to do enough.
When Liverpool went 5-0 up at Manchester United last week Andy Robertson urged on his team-mates, shouting: “Keep going, keep going, be ruthless.”
That attitude is partly why they have scored 27 goals in nine league matches this season and 11 in three in Europe.
“It is not as though we [just] want to get through a game somehow,” added Klopp.
“We want to be the best version of ourselves in these games and that is what we try all the time. It doesn’t work out all the time but that doesn’t mean for the next one we shouldn’t try.
“There is no guarantee you will get any kind of result but it is the only chance you have to get an opportunity to get a result and we will try.”