MANCHESTER — Jurgen Klopp was fine with Liverpool losing their first game of the season.
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His side lost 2-1 at defending champions Manchester City, but they remain top of the Premier League table, four points clear of second-place City.
But there are signs his team are starting to feel the pressure, as his players put in a shaky first half display in a pulsating clash which was played at an incredibly high tempo throughout.
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Asked by Pro Soccer Talk after the game if he was concerned about how his team would handle the pressure of the gap being reduced and losing for the first time this season, Klopp said he has “so much faith” in his players, but then said this.
“If we would have won the title five times in the last 10 years, then we could go 100 percent, but we don’t have the experience. Why should we behave like somebody who won all the time?” Klopp said. “It is true the club hasn’t won it for a long time. We never won it as a team, that is how it is. We want to finish the season as good as possible. We can do that. We are still in a pretty good position, so it is all fine for us. Not in the moment, it feels really bad, but it is only a moment. Then tomorrow morning, we wake up and still feels average, then we have an opportunity to work on it and work on it for the next game.”
Klopp pointing to Liverpool’s lack of title wins (29 years and counting, as it stands) suggests that he is a little concerned about the road ahead. And he acted concerned ahead of the game at City, with a conservative lineup choice in midfield and he was barking orders to Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino throughout the first half as they weren’t closing down City’s defenders in the manner he wanted.
January has always been a tough month for Klopp at Liverpool, with the German coach losing 10 of his 25 games in all competitions in January since he took charge in October 2015. But if you look at Liverpool’s schedule coming up, at least in the Premier League, they should be just fine. In their next five PL games they play Brighton, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, West Ham and Bournemouth.
Liverpool know they are still in a very strong position and Klopp added: “If someone had told me after both games after Man City we were four points up, I would have paid money for it like you cannot believe.”
But the fact they were a few minutes away from keeping their seven point lead, and a few lucky breaks away from moving 10 points clear of Man City, will have a huge psychological impact on Klopp and his players.
They must dust themselves off and acknowledge how close the margins between defeat and victory were against City, but also realize that Pep Guardiola‘s side seemed hungrier, and more controlled, in the heat of battle.
Now we are going to find out if this Liverpool team are championship material and if they can learn to turn a season of immense opportunity into a trophy.