Football

Klopp: We must learn to handle Champions League winners' tag

COMMUNITY SHIELD
LIVERPOOL MAN CITY

Juergen Klopp says Liverpool must learn to deal with their standing as European champions as they kick off their campaign against English Premier League winners Manchester City in Sunday’s (Aug 4) Community Shield at Wembley.

Klopp admits his side have been under intense scrutiny since their Champions League final success against Tottenham in June, but the Reds boss is confident his stars will not allow any distractions to stop them from being focused on the coming season.

“If you win something, everybody feels the need to tell you – first of all, congratulations, then where they watched it, how they watched it, how they felt, how their family felt, how their friends felt, how the dog felt,” Klopp said.

“It’s all nice, but it keeps you in that moment. I want to be completely focused on a new season.

“It’s very important and we will learn it. But no one gives you a book ‘How To Deal With A Champions League Win’. You have to do it by yourself and we will do that.”

Klopp added there was no extra pressure on them following Liverpool’s sixth European title and a subsequent absence of high-profile signings in the close-season.

With only Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno missing from the squad that won the Champions League and finished runners-by just a point below City, Klopp is adamant extending contracts of key men Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson was as vital as landing any new recruits.

“These are the transfers we did, keeping the boys together, staying on our toes, staying aggressive, greedy,” he said.

After a difficult pre-season where several of his players were absent for international tournaments, Klopp is looking forward to working with his full squad before their EPL opener against Norwich City on Aug 10 (3am, Singapore time).

But while desire and expectation are high at Anfield, Klopp insists City are clear favourites to claim a third successive league title.

“Because they’ve won the league twice in a row... We have to prove again that we can be on that level – 97 points was not a coincidence,” he said.

“But the champions didn’t lose a player, apart from (Vincent) Kompany. They are pretty consistent, a good age group, experienced, they are clear favourites. How could we be favourites?

“If somebody said we were favourites for the Champions League, I probably couldn’t deny it. We have been in the final twice in a row and obviously know the way to the final.

“Does that mean we’ll be in it again? Probably not... It’s not PlayStation where you can go to the next skill or whatever.” – AFP

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