LONDON: Jurgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool have no need to be at their “all-time best” in order to clinch a first English league title in 30 years.
Premier League officials are now aiming to restart the season in mid-June, with Liverpool just two wins away from the title when the campaign was postponed on March 13 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
For so long the dominant force in English football, the Merseysiders have not been crowned domestic champions in the Premier League era, with the last of their league titles coming when they won the old First Division crown in 1990.
But as teams start returning to training, Liverpool manager Klopp has tried to ease any mounting pressure on his runaway leaders who are 25 points clear at the top.
“Football is a game where everyone is pretty much in the same situation we play against another team and we don’t have to be at our all-time best we have to be at our best possible and that’s exactly the same for the other teams,” he told the BBC’s Football Focus program.
“Whenever we will start we will have had the same time for preparation and our job was always, and always will be, to use the situation you are in. We will be in as good a shape as possible.”
Meanwhile, the German boss said he was desperate to return to “normal life” after an unexpected two-month break by getting back to Liverpool’s Melwood training base, where players will initially train in small groups.
“Lockdown has been as good as possible; it’s not exactly what I want to do but it’s what we all have to do so we try to make the best of it,” said Klopp.
“We started eight weeks ago and now you feel everyone is desperate to get back to a ‘new’ normal life.
“I have missed the boys the most because we have created a group there not only the boys but all the people at Melwood because we have a really good relationship and we became friends over the last four-and-a-half years.
“We see each other pretty often with Zoom and those things but it’s still not the same and going back to Melwood and doing all the things we usually do is something I really miss.”
In another development, Watford manager Nigel Pearson has raised the possibility of a coronavirus-related death should the Premier League season resume amid the pandemic.
Pearson has doubts about “Project Restart” with much of Britain still in lockdown due to COVID-19.
“God forbid we have a fatality,” he told The Times. “People are closing their eyes to the threat.
“Yes, we would like to restart it but it’s got to be safe. We should be cautious. To ignore possibilities is foolhardy. It’s about safeguarding people’s health.”
Pearson, whose Watford side are presently above the relegation zone on goal difference alone, added: “We have to try to believe (British government) advice that we’re being given that we’ve reached the peak but there’s still an incredible number of people losing their lives through this.
“The death toll in the UK is anything between 33,000 and 38,000. That’s filling our stadium and then filling it half again. It’s a sobering thought.”
Norwich captain Grant Hanley has become the latest Premier League player to express concerns about a resumption of the season, with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, Tottenham’s Danny Rose, on loan at Newcastle this season, and Brighton’s Glenn Murray having already voiced their worries.
“I think the overall feeling is that players have got concerns,” Hanley told Sky Sports.
“Looking at the protocols for going back to training, I think that’s probably fair enough. But it’s just the next step after that, like where do we go from there? In terms of going back into contact training and games.
“My missus is pregnant and she’s due at the start of July, so there’s obviously worries there for myself.
“There’s nothing (in terms of the) sort of information being given to us on, for example, how do we travel to games? Where do we stay? What are the hotels? How can we guarantee hotels are going to be safe for us to be in?
“Ultimately it’s putting your family at risk that is the main concern and that’s the worry I think all the teams will have at this minute in time.”