Jurgen Klopp has pinpointed the moment when it all changed for Liverpool – when every game became a final as they sought to make their “big ambitions” a reality.
After the final matchday of 2021, Liverpool were in third position behind both Man City and Chelsea, with a trip to the latter scheduled for the first game of the new year.
It was one Klopp missed due to testing positive for Covid, and he watched the 2-2 draw unfold at home as the Reds dropped points for the third successive league game.
With at one stage a 14-point gap to make up, albeit with two games in hand, it was then that Klopp and his team began treating every game with a ‘final’ mentality, a mantra now readily echoed.
And since that draw at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool are unbeaten in the league having drawn only once – against City – to move within a point of the top.
They have won the League Cup, are in the final of the FA Cup and now have a Champions League semi-final tie to navigate.
“I think the moment was when I came back from my Covid break, when I watched the game at Chelsea and the next league game was Brentford,” Klopp explained.
“It was obvious, I think we were 14 points behind in that moment with two games in hand. We decided let’s give it a try.
“We have big expectations before a season, big ambitions, and then during the season it’s OK but not an outstanding season until then. There was still something to go for.
“The main thing we have to do is qualify for Champions League for the next season, it’s a big moment.
“We did that and it slipped through my fingers, which never happened to me before in my life. It’s usually the night we celebrate but I had to be reminded of it the next day.
“It was not only City at that moment, Chelsea [were] in front of us and other teams pretty sure, but since then each game is a final.
“Actually, each football game should be like a final, but if you have to make it up too much then it’s maybe not that clear and you cannot behave like that.
“But since then, we’ve behaved like that and it will not change until someone says it’s not worth fighting anymore.”
It’s a pressure that is not new to Klopp and Co., as the Liverpool emblem does not allow for a one-game pass. Every single one has a significant level of expectation and this season is no different.
“Since I’m here it’s like this, we just didn’t do it at the beginning often enough but it was exactly like that,” Klopp added on the pressure of a ‘final’ mentality.
“Whatever situation you are in, good or bad, you won the last game or lost the last game, you are Liverpool and wherever you arrive everyone will fight like it’s the last game of the season against you.
“We have to fight like we’ve been waiting for the last 12 years, that’s the situation since I’m here.
“The situation in January gave us this extra [impetus], so if you want to do something special this year we should start now otherwise it could be over before it can really start.
“The mindset was like this, is like this and will be like this.”