Klopp praises togetherness of players and supporters after difficult season; Mohamed Salah tweeted he was "devastated" after failure to finish in top four was confirmed; But Klopp says there are reasons for optimism; Reds finish season at Southampton on Sunday, kick-off 4.30pm
Friday 26 May 2023 13:39, UK
Jurgen Klopp has described the future of a united Liverpool as "super exciting", despite the disappointment of missing out on qualifying for Champions League football.
It is the first full season during Klopp's long tenure that Liverpool haven't booked a spot in the competition and after Manchester United's win over Chelsea confirmed it on Thursday evening, the Reds' top scorer Mohamed Salah tweeted he was "devastated".
Klopp agreed it was a painful blow and accepted there had been "mistakes" made through the season but insisted there were plenty of reasons for Liverpool fans to be optimistic about what's ahead.
"For me it was clear the other two teams [Newcastle and Man Utd] would get that point [they needed to secure Champions League football]," he said in his press conference ahead of Liverpool's final game of the season against Southampton on Sunday.
"I drew a line. If it would have happened we'd have gone for it but we don't have to change now the mood again.
"In the world of social media so many bad things happen constantly. I don't think that was one of them. It was a normal description of his feelings and in that moment after the game, it's not the moment to send optimistic messages.
"But I saw him now in the canteen and he was smiling. I don't know for what reason but he was not in a bad mood.
"For a long time here it was clear this would not be a historically good season. We're absolutely not happy with it. We made mistakes, we weren't consistent enough.
"The amount of points we've collected since the World Cup is pretty good and if we'd done that over the whole season we'd have been in a different place.
"Of course there are reasons to be optimistic. That's definitely the case. We have other reasons to be optimistic - the atmosphere our people created after the last home game. All these things are absolutely the basis for a fantastic future.
"We don't have to make it bigger than it is. It's a football season. We didn't deliver what everybody wanted and expected. But we are still really united and that's the good thing about it. If you can go through difficult moments like we did then that's a really good basis for a better future. I find a lot of reasons for an optimistic view.
"But I can understand right after the game, when it was decided, is when you feel it. That for me was no different than it was for Mo.
"The dressing room is not in a bad mood. We learnt to deal with the situation. We didn't get divided in one moment. We didn't point fingers at each other.
"If you don't qualify for the Champions League the best possible place is fifth and we did that. If you'd ask me 10 games ago if we could do that I'd have said no.
"There's no reason why we should put the head down and leave it there until the new season starts. I saw very good signs and they are the things I'll take for the new season."
Asked if Liverpool's setback this season could be a motivator for next year, Klopp said: "It has to."
But picking out the positives, he talked up the excitement he felt for what's to come in 2023/24 as new arrivals continue to develop in the team, before describing the "togetherness" the team had sustained through their challenges this term as like a trophy to them.
"We've failed to give the people more to enjoy," he said. "We had our moments. It would have been a normal season if we ended up fourth, not great but still qualification for the Champions League. The big disappointment is this little thing, which is obviously a big one.
"But sometimes you have to accept it. I'm here now for seven and a half years. That's a really long time and everything goes always in the right direction with big steps? That's not likely. We could have done better but there are dips. Usually after three or four years you change the manager, he starts completely new.
"Yes, I understand it's a really good thing I'm here that long but it's a challenge as well because you have to invent yourself new. That's what we've started now. I think that's super exciting.
"And with all the trust and faith we have and feel for each other is a super basis. Nobody is tired or thinks, 'who cares'? Everybody cares a lot and wants to do their absolute best.
"I felt, in a difficult year, I felt the unity between us and the supporters. It's so important. If there was a point to prove it again, it was how they said goodbye to the players. I love that. That will be the trampoline for us. From there we have to go.
"From a financial point of view, that's the only problem really. That's a big problem in football. I know that. But besides that, we have European nights next year.
"Instead of a Tuesday/Wednesday it's a Thursday. Who cares? Great games, atmosphere, a chance to do it all, the FA Cup will happen again, the League Cup will happen again. We have the chance to do that. The Premier League is there as well. Let's give it a go!
"When everything goes in the right direction it's easy to feel togetherness but when it's not it's more challenging. I didn't want to prove that point but we did and that was, for me, the trophy we won this year."
Asked about the impact Liverpool's absence from the Champions League will have on their transfer plans, Klopp appeared relaxed about what was ahead and didn't feel an urgency to get deals done immediately at the start of the upcoming window.
"I don't think so but we will see [if no Champions League affects whether players want to come]," he said.
"It's always possible things don't go as you want because the better the players you want the lesser is the desire of the other club to let him go. That's what we have to be prepared for.
"But it's a long window and it's a long pre-season and a long break so we have time. If we get new players in tomorrow or in six, seven weeks it's not a game changer for me. In an ideal world they'll all fly in tomorrow and I can give them their plans for the summer break and these things. But all good."