“Even the masks are fed up!”
There is laughter in the media room and on the other side of the Zoom call as Jurgen Klopp holds his face mask with a broken strap, with his signature smile on his face.
It’s the last day of 2021 and the Liverpool manager is more than happy to move into the next year and towards a time when Covid restrictions can finally be lifted.
The hectic holiday schedule of matches didn’t leave much time to remember the past 12 months but, for Klopp, this suits him well.
“No, I haven’t looked back, but I’ve seen a few [highlight reels] of 2021 and for convenience I tried to find some positives in 2021 – and it was difficult, “he laughs.
“I’m glad it’s almost over.
“I know today is Sir Alex Ferguson’s birthday, so happy birthday Sir Alex, it’s a great birthday. And my assistant Pete Krawietz turns 50 today, so another great football brain has an important birthday. So it’s more in the my mind when I think of celebrations.
“We all hope for a better 2022”.
The past 12 months have certainly not been disastrous for Liverpool. Indeed, they saw one of the club’s all-time iconic moments, when Alisson became the first goalkeeper to score for them, with his 95th-minute goal against West Brom helping secure third place and qualification. to the Champions League.
But by the high standards Liverpool have set in recent seasons, there have been frustrations at the start and end of the year, with injuries in early 2021 derailing the team before losing points in their last two games. Premier League – amid injuries, illnesses and postponements – made a title challenge in this campaign significantly tougher.
“Qualifying for the Champions League was an absolute highlight for us and the way we did it, but the year started with a terrible injury crisis and you don’t want to have this on top of all things in the crown. around, ”Klopp said. “It was a really difficult time.
“We did it somehow and we needed our goalkeeper’s goal and that was a great highlight, no doubt. A great pre-season, we have played an absolutely OK season so far, that’s absolutely true but with all the things around is just complicated.
“You arrive in the morning and you never know who you have available the next morning. It’s not nice. That’s why I said: the year was not a catastrophe but it is not one that I will remember for centuries.
The new normal is better than the other normal in Covid but there is still room for improvement towards true normalcy. I can not wait.
“The new normal is better than the other normal in Covid but there is still room for improvement towards the true normal, I can’t wait.”
As for resolutions, Klopp doesn’t have many in particular. “I think I should go on a diet again,” he laughs. But actually the focus is on the short term right now. And it has to be, with a trip to Chelsea on Sunday.
After the recent results for both teams, it looks like a pivotal moment of the season.
Perhaps it is a sign of how much Liverpool and Manchester City have raised the bar in title races these days that the twentieth game of a campaign could be decisive. But this is the situation in which the two challengers to the City crown find themselves.
For the winner there will still be some hope of reaching Pep Guardiola’s team. For the underdog, the reigning champions risk being too far ahead.
“Cities are flying,” Klopp agrees. “Before the Leicester game we were in a perfect position, just three points behind City, which, with the season they have played, is incredible.
“Our start of this year, 2021, has been extremely difficult and finding a way to get back to normal performance and maybe improve it has been a huge improvement.
But one of us can put pressure on the City, the winner can … the loser I don’t know. We will see it later. We will not give up just because we lost the match against Leicester. We will do everything, 100 percent. There are many games to come.
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“The city didn’t have a real ‘down’ in 2021. Its 110 points in a calendar year are pretty impressive, I must say!
“But in the end it’s a football match and the only way to win is if you really want to play it, you like the challenge, be annoying if necessary, be fluid if possible, play your best football and, if you give it a try, you have a chance. But the opponents are Chelsea and they too are a really good team. “
For Klopp, Liverpool’s defeat to Leicester could even prove to be a good motivational tool for his players.
“We have to fight it,” he said. “Leicester has given us a good example: difficult as it is, if you put a proper twist there is a possibility. It was quite inspiring: let’s try.”
Klopp may be tired of 2021, but his energy and enthusiasm for the challenges ahead remain as electric as ever.
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