Count season, not 2019: Klopp

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane celebrating his winner against Wolves. The goal was initially ruled out for a handball by Adam Lallana in the build-up but VAR overturned the call. PHOTO: REUTERS
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane celebrating his winner against Wolves. The goal was initially ruled out for a handball by Adam Lallana in the build-up but VAR overturned the call. PHOTO: REUTERS

Liverpool boss acknowledges brilliant year but insists nothing is decided in December

LONDON • The title is surely now Liverpool's to lose, whatever Jurgen Klopp has to say on the subject.

The 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday, thanks to Sadio Mane's 14th goal of the season, extended the hosts' lead at the top of the table to 13 points with a game in hand.

Liverpool have reached their halfway stage of the season with 18 wins and a draw from 19 games played.

That is 55 points from a possible 57, and if anything is to go awry in the second half of the season, bearing in mind second-placed Leicester and Manchester City, in third, are not exactly breathing down the leaders' necks, the collapse is going to have to be something quite spectacular.

But afterwards, Klopp was still adamant the "2019-20 season is not over" even though he conceded the year had been "brilliant" before hailing his players' desire to put in the hard yards.

"It's not important because we count seasons, not years," he said. "Who cares about points in December? We just created a basis which we will work with from now on, that's all.

"If it would be easy to win that number of games a lot more teams would have done it. It is not easy and you have to fight with all you have.

"Sometimes, we have more and sometimes, less and the boys do that all the time, so I couldn't be more proud of what they did again.

"It was a tough test (against Wolves) and rightly so. We play for big stakes, and try to be successful and be as good as possible."

His players had to fight for the three points at Anfield as their opponents pushed them all the way, and they were also indebted to the video assistant referee (VAR).

Mane's winner three minutes before half-time was initially ruled out for handball by Adam Lallana in the build-up, but a VAR review overturned referee Anthony Taylor's on-field decision.

  • Anfield omens

  • Liverpool are now unbeaten in 50 league games at Anfield (W40 D10), with their last defeat coming in April 2017 - a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace.

    This is only the third time a team has gone 50-plus home games without suffering defeat in English top-flight history, after Chelsea (86 from 2004 to 2008) and Liverpool (63 from 1978 to 1980).

    Jurgen Klopp's players are on a 36-game unbeaten streak in the league, a run that is only bettered by Chelsea (40 games from Oct 16, 2004 to Nov 6, 2005) and Arsenal (49 games from May 7, 2003 to Oct 24, 2004).

    The Reds also end the year having earned 98 points from 37 league matches, with their ratio of 2.65 points per game being the second-highest achieved by a team in a single year in the competition, behind only Chelsea's 2.66 in 2005. Their 17th consecutive home win is three shy of the all-time league record set by Manchester City in 2012 and two behind Manchester United in 2011.

Moments later Wolves thought they had levelled when Pedro Neto fired low past Alisson, but again the VAR review went against the visitors as the strike was ruled out for a fractional offside against Jonny.

The Brazil goalkeeper was also kept busy, denying Diogo Jota while Raul Jimenez and substitute Adama Traore had shots deflected wide in the closing stages.

Conor Coady hit out at the "ridiculous" system after his side suffered just their second loss in 15 league games.

"We feel massively hard done by, I can't get my head around it," said the Wolves captain. "For me, it is not working. Some people are saying it gets the right decision, but we're the players on the pitch and it doesn't feel right to me."

His manager Nuno Espirito Santo also took umbrage with decisions "being taken by referees miles and miles away (the VAR hub is based in London)", and Klopp also had sympathy for his Wolves counterpart as it affected the flow of the game.

On the two technology-assisted calls, the German said: "I'd prefer if referees went to the screen because it's directly next to us and never used, I don't know exactly why.

"It would have gone quicker, but that's how we do it in England and we cannot change that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2019, with the headline 'Count season, not 2019: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe