Jurgen Klopp asks Liverpool to summon the spirit of 'Rocky Balboa' to close gap on Manchester City

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Jurgen Klopp has issued a rallying cry for Liverpool ahead of the new season.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his players have to summon the spirit of Rocky Balboa if they are to close the gap to defending Premier League champions Manchester City.

The Reds boss chose to reference the plot of Rocky IV in his response to how his side would go about bridging last season’s 25-point deficit to Pep Guardiola’s side.

In the Sylvester Stallone film the eponymous hero wins a 15th-round knockout against remorseless 100-win heavyweight Ivan Drago, who had previously killed Apollo Creed in a fight in which Balboa was in his fellow American’s corner.

“We are still Rocky Balboa, not Ivan Drago,” said Klopp.

“We are the ones who have to do more, fight more, and that must be our attitude.

“In the moment someone thinks we reached already a point then that is when you start disappointing yourself and the people around you.

“Why should we do that? We didn’t reach anything so far. We went to finals. Should we go to a final again we should try to win it this time.

“We have to be like Rocky.”

A recent survey revealed Liverpool were the Premier League’s unluckiest club last season, with decisions costing them 12 points.

And while Klopp would like that fortune to change he knows there are other factors which are more important.

But having spent £170million this summer on midfielders Naby Keita and Fabinho, goalkeeper Alisson and Xherdan Shaqiri Liverpool are seen as the genuine rivals to City for the title.

Liverpool have strengthened heavily with the likes of Keita.

Liverpool have strengthened heavily with the likes of Keita.

“I know a lot of people think that because we were active in the transfer window but that is part of the business, it doesn’t decide anything,” added the German ahead of Sunday’s opener at home to West Ham.

“There would always be a point where we spent a bit more money. The last few years, I have sat here and had to defend our transfer behaviour, that we sold more than we brought in, but that all made sense.

“We had to create a squad which is strong enough and wide enough to cope with the Premier League and to be as successful as possible. Step by step, we have come closer.

“We want to be, it has been clear for ages, champion of England and winning the league but how can we say that? What about United? What about the other clubs?

“The champions Manchester City did not lose any player and brought in (Riyad) Mahrez, so it doesn’t make them weaker. They are top-quality.

“We have to be more consistent, we know that. We have to be more clinical in the right moments, more aggressive in the right moments.

“We can improve everything: we can improve our offensive game, we can improve our defensive game.

“We have to try to reach the highest, that is always my expectations.

“If you ask me whether it is the best squad I have ever had or whatever I don’t think about that because it is not about what we have now it is about what we make of it, how often we deliver, how often we bring ourselves in a mood to fight with these Premier League teams who want to have our points.”

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Tottenham's World Cup stars in good condition, says Mauricio Pochettino

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is happy with the condition of his World Cup stars ahead of the Premier League opener at Newcastle.

Spurs had nine players involved in the final stages of this summer’s tournament in Russia – more than any other club – and they only returned to pre-season training on Monday.

Pochettino has revealed that Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris are at differing stages of fitness, but some will feature at St James’ Park.

“I am so happy in the way they come back to training on Monday,” the boss said. “I am really, really, really, really, really happy.

“I am so proud about them because they were very focused on trying to arrive in a very good condition.

“Of course the circumstances are completely different from each other, and the profiles of the players are completely different.

“Some need more time to get fit than others. That’s normal. Some players will be fit to start the game. Some will be fit to be on the bench.

“Maybe some players will stay here to try to reach the level, to give more time, for different reasons – because maybe we don’t want to take risks, because they need more preparation, because the background or history of their injuries is different.

“That is why for us it’s so important for us to be right in our judgement now and take the best decision and then to provide the team a very good balance to try to be competitive against Newcastle.

“We’re going to be competitive. I promise you I’m so happy in the way everyone came back, so focused, so happy to join us again.”

Kane’s preparations for the season have been further hit with the arrival of his second child on Wednesday.

However, Pochettino says the impending birth helped Kane get in better shape early on and he should play a part at Newcastle.

“Harry is focused, it’s true that the new baby helped him to stay here and not travel for holidays,” the boss added.

“It was quiet and calm and relaxed and waiting for the new baby.

“He was training here a few days before Monday and has an advantage on the rest. He was here because he was waiting for the baby, not on holiday in Vegas, Los Angeles.

“That is why I said before that every single circumstance is different and we need to understand from them. “

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Fabinho faces Liverpool fitness battle ahead of West Ham opener

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Liverpool‘s Fabinho faces a late fitness test before manager Jurgen Klopp decides whether he can make his debut at home to West Ham on Sunday.

The Brazilian had a scan on a muscle injury on Thursday but although that came back clear the midfielder was sent home from training after feeling unwell.

Joe Gomez is expected to be fit after missing Tuesday’s friendly against Torino but fellow defenders Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip are unlikely to be ready while World Cup finalist Dejan Lovren will not be considered having only returned from extended leave at the weekend.

Provisional squad: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Milner, Keita, Salah, Firmino, Mane, Karius, Clyne, Phillips, Moreno, Henderson, Lallana, Fabinho, Grujic, Sturridge, Shaqiri, Solanke.

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