Inevitably, the talk at Anfield has already turned from winning the title to defending it.
Jurgen Klopp even offered a wry joke about the prospect, as he considered just what it will take to back up Liverpool ’s remarkable
Premier League triumph this season, as a pandemic rages across the globe.
“About defending the title, I have heard people say it is only a real thing if we win twice in a row – that is really funny! That is obviously an English thing…,” his voice tailing off in rueful mirth.
Yet, like all great managers, he will not rest, not even after four glittering trophies in a year, the first time an English club has done it.
Klopp revealed two things about next season’s planning – there have already been internal discussions about the transfer kitty but, perhaps more importantly, there has been a meeting with the players (in training, above and right), setting out a simple message: This is merely the start.
On the former, the Reds boss is clear. There is no way any club can sensibly spend major millions in the current virus-battered financial climate. “For the present, the impact is massive,” he said. “We wait with some decisions or just say, ‘We pause and try it again like this.’”
That is the bad news: they pause. The good news, Klopp has been there before in a similar situation, when he won the Bundesliga title in Germany with Dortmund, and then lost the player-of-the-year Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid. Then won it again.
The key, he says, is not in spending for the sake of it, but in keeping the squad hungry and competitive. Again, the good news is that hardly presents a problem at Anfield. “We have had a meeting with the players already – you talk about the past, present and what will be,” he said. “It’s on the table and I have not had to do some magic or invent something to show what we still want to achieve.
“We came in this place, won the title in a specific way, and this will not change – the desire to be a part of this team.
“People will be afraid these boys will get lazy. These boys?! They cannot get lazy. We will not stop.”
In 2011, after winning his first Bundesliga title, Klopp’s Dortmund team lost their most influential player, and brought in only two relatively untried youngsters: Ivan Perisic from Club Brugge for just £4million and 20-year-old Ilkay Gundogan for £3m.
Both came from nowhere, both became superstars. Now Klopp hopes to repeat the feat by finding similarly talented young players within his own squad.
“We try to find solutions internally. And there is still a lot to come. We have three or four players who can make big, big steps,” he explained.
“In football now, we get confronted with how much do you want to spend? But the situation is like it is. And whoever wants to be part of this team must show they still want it, want to improve.
“I felt relieved when it was clear we won it, but I didn’t feel this kind of relief that we reached the pinnacle and there was nothing to come now. There is a lot to come.”
Like at Dortmund, Klopp believes the second title could be delivered by new, young faces. “People want new players. It never works only with money. So, bring the boys up,” he added.
“So now, the first glimpses of Neco Williams. From the other side, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Jake Cain… all these boys have done really well.
“We want to strengthen this squad and this squad is strong.”
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