Klopp: Barcelona and Real Madrid would have it rough in the Premier League
The 49-year-old Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool boss, has the Reds, third in the table with four games remaining, on track for Champions League qualification in his first full season in England’s top flight.
Liverpool had looked set to mount a title challenge when they won 13 of their first 19 matches, but a run of one victory in seven at the start of 2017 brought those hopes to an end.
Klopp, who lifted successive Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund, claims the difficulty of England’s top flight would even be felt by Spain’s powerhouse clubs.
“Even for the great Spanish teams, it would be difficult to win the Premier League,” he told Marca. “Of course, Madrid and Barca would be fighting for everything, but it would be very difficult.
“In the Premier League, nothing is certain. The intensity is very high and many things can happen in matches. There’s not a single game where you can win 4-0 comfortably and rest your first XI. It doesn’t exist in the Premier League. It’s not possible in the Bundesliga, either, unless you’re Bayern [Munich].
“Chelsea are having a great season but there are many games where they have won 1-0 and had to defend until the end. I’ve experienced two leagues and I can say that this one is really tough. Ask Pep [Guardiola of Manchester City], he’ll say the same!
“We’re up there, fighting for the Champions League positions, but I can say: five more points, and everything would look different. There are a few games left and we’ll fight to the utmost.”
Klopp remains confident Liverpool can win their first title since 1990 under his guidance, however.
“Of course. It’s always possible. Is it likely? I don’t know, but it’s possible and that’s enough for me,” he said. “There are several teams that fight for the title each season and maybe, at this moment, some have more chances than us, but I’m not interested in that.
“That’s the key to this job: to find the right solutions for the problems that are presented to you. The goal is to win a competition but the fight is already exciting.”
Klopp went on to reveal that he feels a positive atmosphere among his players is key and highlighted Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo as an example of why talent is not always enough to succeed.
“I don’t try to be nice every minute of the day,” he said. “I tell them things when it’s necessary. I like to be their friend, but not their best friend. A friend tells you things clearly at the right time.
“I always tell a footballer that 50 per cent of their success is my responsibility and 50 per cent is theirs. I always say that I don’t know if he’s a great player until I know if he’s a good or bad type. He can be a genius but if he only helps me three times a year and in the rest of the games, creates problems for me…
“I use the example of Cristiano and [Lionel] Messi. Cristiano fascinates everyone, but I’m sure he works harder than anyone else.”