Jurgen Klopp says he is ready for the media’s “obvious bullshit” should Liverpool begin the next season in less than stellar form.
The Reds will mount their first-ever defence of the Premier League title next season as they look to emulate their record-breaking season for a second time.
Ahead of Liverpool’s clash against Aston Villa on Sunday, Klopp was questioned on his past days at previous club Borussia Dortmund, who he led to the Bundesliga title in the 2010/11 season.
Dortmund retained the title the following season before making it to the Champions League final in 2013, eventually losing 2-1 to Bayern at Wembley. Klopp’s success at Dortmund put him on the radar of Europe’s biggest clubs, but according to him, it wasn’t always so rosy.
Klopp has already made it clear his side will “attack” the title next year - rather than defend it - but he insists he’s ready for the English media’s “obvious bullshit” should his side fail to begin next season as they started the last.
When asked how his players will respond to the challenge of retaining the league, he said: “Look, sometimes in life, you need to have the problem first before you can find the solution for it. Preparing solutions constantly for problems you will never have makes no sense.
“We didn’t do anything differently. We lost a player, I think Nuri Sahin at least that year and brought in Ilkay Gundogan, who obviously was not a bad replacement.
“So we didn’t do anything different, but what we did do is just trained hard, we were positive about our future.
“We didn’t expect to [just] win the league again, because there was no chance. There was a big competitor, there was Bayern Munich, and usually, if you beat them, they strike back with all they have. That’s not different here.
“After five matchdays [in 2011/12], I’m pretty sure we were seventh in the league, and your colleagues in Germany were throwing at us with all they found.
“Like ‘lost focus’, ‘not greedy enough any more’, ‘still celebrating’, all the obvious bullshit.
“Then we won a game away at Mainz, 1-0, with a really scruffy goal, a 50-yard shot that rolled through all the legs, and we knew at that moment that was, for us, the step in that season. We were not bad in the beginning; we just didn’t get the results. That can happen in football.
“From that moment on, this team from Dortmund broke all the records so far in Germany, 81 points at the end, not losing for 23 games or something. We were really in it because we were still good, and the boys were 100 per cent in it.
“And we would have had a chance the year after, but then the team looked completely different. That’s how it is. You don’t have to change; you have to do good things and improve the not-so-good things. That’s what you have to do all the time.
“It’s not important what you won last year. It’s all about what you maybe can win next year. We never felt that we have to win the league to show the world we are still ‘on it’ because there’s a competition, all the other teams can improve.
“It was a great season [for Dortmund], but for moments it didn’t look like it, and everybody started directly criticising. So I’m prepared for all the things you will say about us if the next season doesn’t start as it should start.
“But as long as I see in the eyes of my boys that they are ready, that will have absolutely no influence on what we will do.”
The squad built at Liverpool by Klopp is undeniably superior to the one at Dortmund but, instead of just one realistic title rival in Bayern Munich, they face stiffer competition from the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Manchester United.
But Klopp insists despite his side not being “perfect,” that always find a way to “strike back” and make themselves count.
“I don’t expect perfection from my players. I want to play the next season as good as possible, that’s what I expect,” he said.
“If you can be very successful—first, second or whatever—by losing five games, I would be surprised. Or six, seven, eight games like City, I would be surprised. But if that’s possible, I would take that—after the season, not around these five, six, seven, eight games!
“I don’t know exactly how it will be when I look at the league now. I see so many teams who are really improving at this moment. It’s a difficult time, so we don’t know who takes risks with transfers, who doesn’t do that, all this kind of stuff. We will see that.
“We will make sure we are ready for a proper competition and a proper challenge, that’s what I can expect, and not that we either become champions from winning 38 games or I’m not happy anymore.
“The situation is like the situation is, we have to make the best of it, and that is what we will do. These boys are exceptional characters, and I don’t even doubt them 1 per cent. I trust them 100 per cent.
“They are not perfect, and they make a lot of mistakes and sometimes they are more disguised than in other moments, but in the end, they always strike back.
“Since I’ve known them, they’ve always improved, they’ve always struck back. They always understand, and they are always thoughtful; they think about the stuff. So we go. What we get for it, we never knew before, and we will not know next year.
“That’s why I said we would not defend the title, we will attack the next one, without knowing if we get it.”