Jurgen Klopp is usually a glass half-full bloke, and the German head coach is adamant he has become a better manager during a season of struggle for Liverpool.
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The reigning Premier League champions currently sit 22 points off league leaders Manchester City and heading into their clash against Chelsea at Anfield on Thursday (start time, 3:15pm ET on Peacock Premium), Klopp’s boys are locked in a tough battle to just finish in the top four.
With injuries galore, especially to key defensive players, Klopp told our partners in the UK at Sky Sports about their main issue this season
“Most of the problems are as a result of the injury situation,” Klopp said. “This year we have faced completely new problems. I have never in my life – and I have been doing the job for 20 years – had to change the last line every week.
“I am a much better manager this season than I was before because usually you are not having to think about these things but now I am having to think about them constantly. We had a situation on Friday night. We trained all week, or the few days that we had to train, with one specific line-up and then overnight we had to change it completely. That is another big thing to do that is common in football but we have had it plenty of times.
“People might say that is an excuse. I could not care less, to be honest. We do not use it as an excuse but if you ask me the question then it is the explanation for why things changed.”
What lies ahead for Liverpool in final few months of season?
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are out long-term, while Jordan Henderson is also missing until April with a groin issue, so Liverpool’s defensive issues are here to stay.
But their schedule eases up in the final weeks of the season and the likes of Fabinho, Diogo Jota and a few others are coming back to full fitness at a crucial time.
After they play Chelsea this week, Liverpool only play one team who are currently above them in the table in their final 11 league games of the season: Manchester United.
Even with stand-in center backs and youngsters thrust into the spotlight as defenders, Liverpool have a real chance of going on a run in the final months of the season to seal a top four spot, and perhaps glory in the UEFA Champions League.
Heck, a run to the UCL semifinals and sneaking into the top four would be very commendable this season, all things considered.
Klopp will be pushing his players on to finish this difficult season strongly and if Liverpool do, they can build positive momentum over the summer and you wouldn’t bet against them being serious title contenders next season once all of their injury problems subside.
That is when we will really find out if Klopp and his players have improved after all of this adversity.