Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool must qualify for the Champions League more frequently after sealing a top-four finish and completing an “outstanding” season with victory against Middlesbrough.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana scored against Steve Agnew’s relegated team as Liverpool secured the win required to finish above Arsenal in the race for Champions League qualification. A Champions League play-off in late August, when Liverpool will be seeded in the draw, will determine whether Klopp’s team reach the lucrative group stage.
Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League only twice in eight seasons and their manager said the club’s status demands it becomes a regular occurrence. “It makes a difference financially of course but it is the sports side of things that is more interesting,” Klopp said. “It is the best tournament in Europe. They might say differently in South America but in my opinion there is maybe nothing better in the world. You want to be there. Liverpool needs to be there consistently.
“I am not saying we are already in but I am already looking forward to it. We will be really strong and will really fight for it. We want to be there. In the last 10 years Liverpool was not a part of it too often. We should do everything to change this. The step is for us to be around the best teams in the world because we are at one of the best clubs in the world.”
Champions League qualification will enhance Liverpool’s appeal in the transfer market this summer and Klopp admitted that work had begun on landing his leading targets. He said: “It is not that I will sit together with Michael Edwards [Liverpool’s sporting director] tomorrow and think about what we need. Most of the decisions are already done. We will be prepared. Tomorrow we fly to Australia [for a post-season friendly against Sydney FC on Wednesday] and when we come back I have a bit of work to do, just a few phone calls to make, before holiday.”
Liverpool had spent only two weeks outside the Champions League places since September and Klopp claimed fourth place reflects the progress made during his first full season as manager. “It is really outstandingly good. Everything feels good at this club at the moment. We deserve this position: 76 points is an outstanding number.
“We all know what happened in January, not sure all of us agree why but the explanation is injuries and too many games. In February we suffered from the games in January and in March we were back on track. We learned a lot in this year about ourselves and we can use it.
“We learned that we are not confident enough in general. When something doesn’t work it feels something slips through your finger. I am really happy we achieved something we didn’t achieve too often in the past. You need to feel the improvement, the next step.
“I am really happy about the situation and to learn things in football can happen. No season in football always goes up; there are dips too. We showed we can still come back from these times and we can work with this.”