Pressure to clinch trophies

Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita evading Borussia Dortmund's Amos Pieper during the 3-1 loss to the German side in the International Champions Cup match at Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday. Manager Jurgen Klopp is hoping that his four signings, wh
Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita evading Borussia Dortmund's Amos Pieper during the 3-1 loss to the German side in the International Champions Cup match at Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday. Manager Jurgen Klopp is hoping that his four signings, who include Keita, will add more depth to the squad.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Klopp says quest for consistency a vital factor if Reds are to fulfil expectations of silverware

LONDON • Liverpool will feel the weight of increased expectation to deliver silverware this season after making encouraging forays into the transfer market, manager Jurgen Klopp has said.

The German is about to undertake his third full season in charge but despite the progress since he took over in 2015, he has yet to win his first trophy with the club.

"You're right and people will say that it is the next step. We need to be ready for that," he told reporters in New York, where Liverpool were continuing their pre-season tour.

"I know about the expectations and that's completely normal. First of all we have to play the football that gives us an opportunity to win something. We cannot talk about winning something before we start the season."

The last of Liverpool's 18 domestic league titles was won in the 1989-90 season, while the club's last major trophy was the 2011-12 League Cup.

Klopp took Liverpool to three finals, but lost the 2016 League Cup final to Manchester City on penalties, the 2016 Europa League title to Sevilla 3-1 and the Champions League final in May to Real Madrid by the same scoreline.

The Reds ended the English Premier League season fourth, 25 points behind champions City, and the squad's lack of depth was exposed as the campaign played out.

The German has made four signings totalling more than £170 million (S$304.4 million) since, adding goalkeeper Alisson Becker from Roma, midfielder Naby Keita from RB Leipzig, defensive midfielder Fabinho from Monaco and winger Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City.

Klopp will hope that the signings help the squad cope better with the intense style of play he demands and that his team can improve on last season's record of 12 Premier League draws.

"It's not just that we have to be more consistent, we have to create circumstances where we can be more consistent," the 51-year-old added. "Nobody is consistent with 11 players. What we are working on is the depth of the squad because you need it.

"We expect more from ourselves. We will go again for the championship and each kind of Cup, but that does not mean I can sit here and we will get it. We have the highest ambitions, 100 per cent."

Liverpool's belief is built on more than lavish spending.

Last season's exhilarating run to the Champions League final, Mohamed Salah's record-breaking debut campaign of 44 goals and a defence bolstered by the £75 million signing of Virgil van Dijk, plus the emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold and the blossoming of Andy Robertson, are significant factors.

An unbeaten home league record last term and scoring four or more goals in 14 matches - the most in 121 years - provide more.

Now, with midfield options multiplied and the long-running, costly goalkeeping problem acknowledged, expectation carries a demand.

Liverpool continue their pre-season today against City in the International Champions Cup in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2018, with the headline 'Pressure to clinch trophies'. Print Edition | Subscribe