Jurgen Klopp is confident Liverpool will again challenge Manchester City for the Premier League next season after just missing out on a first title in 29 years.
A 2-0 win over Wolves courtesy of two goals from Sadio Mane was ultimately not enough as City’s 4-1 win at Brighton ensured Pep Guardiola’s side finished just ahead of the Reds by a point.
While Klopp said he cannot promise the competition will be as intense and relentless as this season, he is looking forward to another battle with City.
“As long as City are around with the quality they have and the financial power and all that stuff, it’s not that any other team will pass them easily. That’s clear,” he said.
“As long as this is the case we need to be very close to perfection to win the Premier League.
“I don’t say we will have 97 points next year or whatever, maybe that’s not needed, I don’t know. We will come again.
“We made unbelievably big steps and I really expect more to come, that’s the truth.
“There’s a lot to come, a lot of years, it’s all about you and what you do with it, and that’s what we do with it.
“People will tell us it’s 30 years or whatever (since Liverpool won the league) but other clubs have bigger problems, to be honest.
“This team tried it the first time, and I really think they did it quite impressively for a first time.
“This team is not a finished article. We will go again, 100 per cent.”
Liverpool finished with the third-highest points tally in top-flight history with 97, bettered only by City’s 98 this season and 100 in the previous campaign.
They also lost just one league match – crucially at City in January – had two of the Premier League’s three joint-top scorers in Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, while goalkeeper Alisson Becker claimed the Golden Glove for 21 clean sheets, one better than City counterpart Ederson.
Still that was not enough to get them over the line but Klopp is hugely encouraged by what he has seen.
“It was an unbelievable season. I can read all the stats, I can read all the numbers, it’s just really exceptional,” added the Reds boss.
“My thing is if you would get an award for the biggest development jump I can remember, then the boys would get that.
“We used the base from last year, but we have made a big step. Unbelievable – and there is more to come.
“If we are ready to make the next step, we will make the next step. That’s the plan from tomorrow on.”
Klopp will now turn his attention to the Champions League final against Tottenham on June 1.
“To be on this road and also qualify for the Champions League final, it’s pretty special,” he added.
“This team is one of the best to have ever played for Liverpool 100 per cent.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Pep Guardiola has branded Manchester City retaining the Premier League title as the toughest of his nine major league triumphs.
City pipped Liverpool to the league crown by just one point following a 4-1 win at Brighton to conclude the greatest title battle in top-flight history.
Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan all hit the net as City stormed home at the Amex Stadium after Glenn Murray had given the Seagulls a shock 28th-minute lead.
City rattled off 14 successive victories to seal the title, with Guardiola then declaring his players and coaches are nowhere near satisfied.
“That is the toughest league that we’ve won, the Premier League, Germany, Spain, that’s the toughest that we’ve won,” said Guardiola.
“I’m not going to deny it is exhausting but winning is so addictive and now we have the chance to win the FA Cup and a treble.
“Then we have to make decisions for next season to come back strong. Liverpool will maintain and so we have to be better.
“Competitive people are never satisfied, it’s never enough. We want more and more.
“And that’s why the second one, to make it back to back, shows me this kind of thing. It shows me it wasn’t enough (for the players), that one wasn’t enough.”
Murray headed Brighton into the lead to hand City a scare but that fright lasted just 83 seconds.
Aguero buried the visitors’ first chance, and after Laporte headed in from a corner 10 minutes later, Guardiola’s men never relented.
City have racked up 198 points across their consecutive title victories, with Guardiola claiming Liverpool’s chase has driven his side to new levels this term.
Liverpool’s 97-point haul would have won all but these last two league campaigns.
City’s madcap celebrations included Oasis star Noel Gallagher belting out his classic hit Wonderwall with the squad in the dressing room.
Guardiola was keen for his players to enjoy the moment but then confirmed City will quickly refocus on completing that unprecedented domestic treble.
Adamant City will be ready for Saturday’s FA Cup final against Watford, Guardiola joked his side still has weak points.
“Yes, there are weaknesses,” he said. “I’m the tallest guy, so at set-pieces I must go to the church and pray. It’s a trouble.
“No teams in England have done that before so we have to challenge, compete and be focused on this game. Of course, the FA Cup isn’t easy to achieve to get to the final and we are going to try to win.”
When asked if his side will go down as the best in English history, Guardiola simply said being in the conversation is all anyone can ask.
“When people suggest you can be one of the best that’s enough,” said Guardiola. “But we had this in Barcelona, too.
“If in 10, 15, 20 years people talk about this team, it’s because we were good.
“Like books, movies, if they sustain the passage of time, if after 25 years people are watching the same movie, reading the same book.
“If people still talk about this team after that time, then it deserves to be considered alongside the best Man United, the best Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri insists he is still in the dark over Eden Hazard’s future.
The forward, who is yet to commit his future to Stamford Bridge, came off the bench in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Leicester on the final day of the Premier League season.
Hazard blew kisses to the travelling fans who called for him to stay after a 22 minute cameo which failed to inspire a victory.
The Belgian was rested with the Europa League final against Arsenal at the end of the month in mind.
Real Madrid continued to be heavily linked with the 28-year-old and Sarri conceded he did not know if Hazard will stay.
He said: “I hope of course, like every fan of Chelsea, that he will remain with us. But at the moment I don’t know.
“I know very well that Eden tried to do his best for seven seasons at Chelsea. He did very well, he has become one of the best two or three players in the world, but I think also that we have to respect him and his decision.”
Despite finishing third in the Premier League, Chelsea still sat 26 points adrift of champions Manchester City.
Sarri also cast doubt over his own position and could not say for sure if he will be at Stamford Bridge for a second season.
He added: “I think but I am not sure. I don’t know. I can say only the club asked me to get into the Champions League and we reached the target – the Champions League.
“As you know very well, I love English football. I love the Premier League, the level is really the best in the world I think, the atmosphere in the stadiums is wonderful. I like very much to stay here.”
Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans wasted a fine opening just before the break when the pair failed to combine properly following David Luiz’s slip.
Gonzalo Higuain then missed the best chance of the match when, unmarked, he sidefooted wide from six yards in first-half stoppage time.
The Foxes finished ninth and boss Brendan Rodgers, who replaced Claude Puel in February, is looking forward to the future.
“There is no waiting in football now, there is no time,” he said.
“It was a difficult decision and normally, ideally as a coach or a manager, you don’t want to come in until the summer.
“I’ve had an invaluable period here and that was the reason for coming, seeing the players under pressure for this period of time and seeing if I can influence players to be here for the project going forward.”
Provided by Press Association Sport