Jurgen Klopp says key injuries in Liverpool’s centre-back department is the reason for their failed Premier League title defence, as he compared their struggles to how Manchester City or Manchester United would cope in that situation.
Liverpool were runaway Premier League champions last season, and started this campaign strongly. However, key injuries to Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip for most of the campaign has left them still to secure Champions League football going into the last day.
The table is in their hands, however, with a win over Crystal Palace on Sunday likely to see them pip Leicester to fourth place given their superior goal difference of four over fifth-placed Leicester, who face Spurs.
Assessing Liverpool’s chances, Klopp said sealing a top four spot would mean as much to him as last year’s title win, given the adversity his squad have faced, as he outlined just how devastating their defensive injuries in particular have been by comparing the situation to City and United’s squads.
He said: “So a football team is like an orchestra where plenty of people work together and if you lose one piece you might be able to still do it, but if you lose two then it becomes difficult.
“It is how I said before this year, with the amount of injuries we have had it was not the year to become champions. No chance. For nobody. As good as they are, if City have their three centre-halves out, no [they don’t win the league]. Three centre-halves of United, no.
“For the whole season pretty much too, that is how it is.”
Klopp was also having no suggestions that simply qualifying for the Champions League was a disappointment, as he pointed to United’s involvement in the Europa League final next week.
He explained: “We have fought back a bit, accepted the difficulties and made the best of it, and if we win on Sunday, and if we qualify for the Champions League, then we made the best of it. That is it.
“Ask Manchester United now if at the moment they like the Europa League (they are in the final) and they would say ‘yes’. They love to play the final and have the chance to win.
“So we already did kind of a job but not the one we wanted to do.”