Boss knows entire campaign will be judged on 90 minutes against Middlesbrough
Jurgen Klopp accepts that Liverpool’s season will be branded a success or failure based on Sunday’s final showdown with Middlesbrough.
The Reds will secure a Champions League spot if they beat relegated Boro but anything less and they face the demoralising prospect of Europa League football.
The stakes are high but Klopp is confident his players will rise to the occasion and sign off on a high at Anfield.
“It would be difficult to think about the season and say ‘oh it was still okay’ if we don’t go to the Champions League from the position we are in,” Klopp said.
“What people think in football is always important but you cannot change your decisions.
“Probably a few will think it’s not enough. Me? I have no idea how I would feel.
“Some people will count the points that we lost in the last two or three weeks and think if we had them it would already be decided. We don’t think of it like that.
“Sunday is a big opportunity for us. We have to perform and we have to win. If we have enough points after the game on Sunday then we deserve to go to the Champions League. If we don’t have enough then we won’t deserve it.”
Liverpool thrashed West Ham 4-0 last weekend but their home form has been patchy with defeat to Crystal Palace sandwiched by draws against Bournemouth and Southampton. However, Klopp insists that run isn’t cause for concern ahead of the visit of Steve Agnew’s lowly side.
“We didn’t score but in some parts we played better than against West Ham. Against West Ham we scored at the right moments and the game opened up.
“We defended two situations (against Palace) worse than against West Ham. That’s not because of home or away. We pretty much play the same style wherever we play.
“One mistake less and we would have won against Bournemouth, two mistakes less against Palace we would have won, one mistake less against Southampton we would have won.
“If we have a real problem creating chances then we have to think about it. But we just have to make better decisions and be more clinical at home.
“I think pretty much everybody would be happy if we won 1-0 on Sunday. Of course that would mean the game would be open right until the final whistle. Thinking about it now it doesn’t feel that comfortable, but it could happen so we all need to be ready for this game.
“We can qualify with this game. We have a big chance to win it, not guaranteed, but a big chance. I hope the people going to the stadium are ready to enjoy it and do the job. We’ll see where it leads to.
“We’ll use the power of Anfield. We have no issues with playing at Anfield - that would be the strangest thing in the world.”
Liverpool must equal or better Arsenal’s result at home to Everton in order to finish in the Champions League places. Victory would be enough to secure third place if Man City fail to win at Watford.
This would only be the second time in the past eight seasons that Liverpool have bagged a top-four spot. Klopp, who is hoping that Roberto Firmino is passed fit to feature, wants to ensure the Reds get back to Europe’s elite and stay there.
“When you go there 19 years in a row like Arsenal then people say ‘it’s only the Champions League’. We would love to be there 19 years in a row from now on,” Klopp added.
“We have the situation for it. It should not sound disrespectful to the past but I really think we are kind of back on track.
“Of course it is important that a club with our power needs to be at the top. The only problem is that England has so many top teams so you can always do a lot of things right and even then you are out.
“We have power but a lot of other clubs have power too, financial or whatever. It is all about making the right decisions and we feel able to make the right decisions.
“That doesn’t mean we have a 100% guarantee but we really feel comfortable with the things we can do. Decisions will be made about transfers in the next few weeks. We will be stronger next year. That’s good news. Unfortunately, the other teams will be too which doesn’t make life easier.”