It was hard to imagine at Christmas when Liverpool were top of the Premier League – unthinkable for the Champions, even….finishing outside the top four.
After winning the Premier League so emphatically, with such authority, Jurgen Klopp’s side were talked of as all time greats, as a team who could create a dynasty every bit as dominant as the Anfield legends of the 70s and 80s.
Barely two months later though, Klopp accepts, for the first time, the catastrophic consequences of being exiled from Europe’s Champions League elites are a real possibility now. But if it happens, it will be for one season only.
He is adamant about that: “This club will not be a regular out of the Champions’ League – this year is difficult we know that.
“But this club is in a really good position in a better position than other clubs I would say. Nobody has to worry about the future of the club because it is in good hands and has a really good team together, and so that is obviously the basis for a good future.”
Liverpool have lost five league games in a row at Anfield for the first time in their long history, and defeat on Sunday to record a mind-blowing sixth straight defeat would surely signal the end of their top four ambitions this season.
And Klopp was reminded of the last time that happened, back in the dying embers of the Rafa Benitez era, when Liverpool dropped out of their birthright of elite European football, and suffered massive, and defining financial meltdown, which almost saw the club go bankrupt.
They were saved only by a legal action against the then owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and buy-out coup by John Henry and Tom Werner.
He knows there are huge financial implications for missing out on the Champions League – “we all understand this situation – the main reason for qualifying for the Champions League is about finances” – but he is adamant the events of a decade ago will not be repeated.
“The potential and the power of the club is a completely different one. We have the squad together, if they are not all injured. It is a different one to 10 years ago,” he explained.
“I do not know the team 10 years ago, but we are ready for a battle in this era, and with the team we have together. The club is in a different situation and it will not be an issue with new players I can say that.”
Klopp also believes – crucially – that the squad which has struggled so desperately during this campaign to defend their title, will be just as desperate to fix the problem next season. And he believes no one will jump ship if there is no Champions League football.
“That is nothing we have to worry about. It was always like this. I know we have loyalty from the players.
“It is not a situation where a player in the squad says we are not in the Champions League so I have to leave. That will not happen. I know them well enough to know that.”
Klopp has more pressing problems than future financial implications. He has another centre half injured, with new signing Ozan Kabak picking up a knock against Chelsea, but Nat Phillips should be fit to replace him.
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