Jürgen Klopp insists ‘every kick of every game matters’ as Liverpool look to maintain their push for a top-four finish in the final quintet of fixtures in 2020-21.
The Reds welcome Southampton to Anfield this evening for their latest Premier League outing – and the manager has outlined how his team plan to give everything to conclude the campaign in the best possible fashion.
In his column in the official matchday programme, Klopp writes: “Hello, wherever you are reading this, as we prepare to face Southampton in our Premier League match at Anfield. I welcome Ralph Hasenhüttl, his players, staff and the officials of our visitors.
“I’m a big admirer of Ralph and the work he does at Saints. A big fan, if truth be told.
“I love how he works and the type of football his teams play. He has a clear plan and is very brave. He’s also a great guy who’s always warm and generous.
“Games against his teams are always so intense and difficult. You know you have to win a fight before you can even think about winning a match. That’s how it is. You must be prepared to work at least as hard and preferably harder than them.
“We saw when we played down there over New Year what a good team they are. Quality players, with great attitude.
“We know a couple of them of course, although I believe for different reasons neither will play today.
“Taki cannot – because he is our player still and his time at Southampton is a loan. He’s done really well there and this is no surprise.
“When we allowed him to go in January it was a tough call to make because he is an important player for us and will be again in the future, no doubt. But opportunities at that time had been short with us and therefore going to play somewhere else made sense for him and us.
“Southampton was perfect because of how Ralph plays and what he demands from his players. I’m pleased he doesn’t face us today, though.
“The other is Danny Ings – and at the time of writing this I’m told that he’s unlikely to be available because of injury. This isn’t cool and although I’m relieved he’s unlikely to be on their teamsheet, I am gutted for Danny personally.
“The good news is that it sounds only short term. Danny has had another fantastic season. What a guy and what a player.
“I have no idea what Gareth Southgate will choose to do in the summer with his squad for the Euros and, as I have said previously, it’s nothing to do with me and none of my business. But if Danny does make the squad it will be thoroughly deserved.
“I miss him being with us but I’m really pleased to see him achieve his potential as one of the best centre-forwards in the Premier League.
“It has been a strange week, coming into this important game after a match that never was.
“We had prepared really well for the Manchester United fixture and were looking forward to it. It was a great week’s training.
“Of course there is nothing we can do about that now and at the time of writing this column, the new date isn’t finalised. What is clear is that now our season will finish with games coming thick and fast and we must be ready for this physically and mentally.
“Every second of every game matters to us. I face questions all the time about Champions League qualification or the Europa League. European football matters to us like crazy. Not for finance, although that helps, but for prestige. We are Liverpool and we want to be playing in Europe and, when we do, we want to be successful in that venture.
“But wanting something doesn’t help you achieve it. And to achieve anything we need to focus on the only thing we can influence and that is the next game.
“We have five matches remaining, starting tonight, and maybe even I personally have been guilty in talking about needing to win all five – but that’s a fallacy in reality. The only game you can win is the next one and that’s the same for Southampton.
“During our best periods we have always had a laser focus on only what we can influence. Attack the day, attack the training session, and, when it’s a matchday, attack the contest. That is what we must do now.
“Speculating on how many points you need to finish in a specific position helps not even one per cent. So we don’t waste energy on things that don’t help us.
“And it’s not about finishing this season well to help us going into next season either. We are Liverpool – we have a responsibility to perform in each and every game. Every kick of every game matters.
“Tonight against Southampton is all that matters to us in this moment and it’s enough motivation for us as a group to give our all.
“To finish the column I will comment on what last Sunday entailed for us, with the game being called off due to the incidents at Old Trafford.
“I am a big believer in supporters being able to protest and stand up for their rights, their importance to the game and issues that matter to them via taking visible action.
“In Germany this is very much part of our culture. Supporters are not shy in my home country in making their positions clear and it certainly has an impact.
“Recent weeks have shown that fans coming together has power. And this is good for the game. They must be central to what happens in the professional game. In truth, without them the professional game has no meaning.
“Liverpool has a proud history of activism, both as a club and as a city. And I think how the people of Liverpool stand up for what they believe in is very much a benchmark.
“Violence and criminality is absolutely not OK and I do hope that supporters who wish to make their feelings clear continue to do so in a manner that doesn’t cross that line. I know here at LFC our supporters will do that and in doing so I think they enhance their cause and their message and give themselves the best chance of achieving their objectives.
“This week our CEO Billy Hogan met with the supporters group Spirit of Shankly and I was pleased to see the statements that came out of that, talking about making meaningful progress through engagement.
“I have said in previous columns, the bond and togetherness between fans and the team has been our secret ‘sauce’ as a club. Whatever any of us can do to preserve that is essential to our present and future.
“I’m confident, because of the quality of people involved on all sides, that we can achieve this.”