Jurgen Klopp says he is “not naive” to Liverpool’s problems, but believes they will be equipped to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title again next season.
The Reds’ defence of their first league crown in 30 years was a miserable one as they started to slip from the summit at the turn of the calendar year.
Six successive home defeats contributed towards an alarming slump that leaves them fighting only for the final Champions League spot in the closing weeks of the campaign.
The Reds currently trail fourth-place Chelsea by four points and could be as many as seven behind the Londoners when they travel to Manchester United on Sunday where they are without a win since 2014.
Despite an acknowledgement of the issues that have blighted Liverpool’s season, however, the Reds manager insists his players can once more take on champions-elect City when they begin the new term with a full complement of players again.
Klopp said: “How I said before, we are not that naive. We know we have to improve and we know some things have happened.
“It’s not a year, because some things have happened, to become champions.
“If we want to become champions we need to be perfect, we were not perfect, we know that. Nothing was perfect actually.
“So it was pretty clear early that we would not become champions.
“We know our resources inside and that’s not a problem. You cannot become champions every year and City won’t be every year, even when they have a pretty good perspective.
“We know that if only the players come back we missed, we will be better immediately.
“We will have a much better rhythm, it’s not about centre-halves, two in and two out, it’s not about that because we have done quite well with Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips.
“When they have played together, it was absolutely fine.
“But we had to work too long on too many different things over the year, which we had absolutely no influence on.
“You lose players one day before the game, or for five weeks, or the rest of the season.
“I know other teams have similar problems but I only talk about us.
“For us it was really really harsh, but let’s imagine that doesn’t happen every year then we have a better basis, different problems but normal football problems.
“And in that moment we are immediately stronger again because we didn’t forget how to play football.
“Negative things lead to other negative things from time to time and that has happened to us.
“In the beginning we scored even without the last line we were used to, we were still there, but then we had to put midfielders in the defence and we lost not only the last line, but also the midfield stability as well.
“And then we stopped scoring and then you have to reinvent yourself new and during a season that is not recommended because you are constantly playing games and you are influenced by the results.
“So it is a tough one, it was a tough one, but it is not over.
“So we will go for it if there is anything out there for us but we will try to get it.”
City can confirm their third title in four seasons if they beat Crystal Palace on Saturday lunchtime and Liverpool triumph at Old Trafford on Sunday.
And while Klopp accepts it will be difficult to overthrow Pep Guardiola’s team next term, he is also mindful of a whole host of other emerging sides in the Premier League.
“It is always harder because Man City never stops, I think that it is clear that they will not,” Klopp said.
“But even though they had two years in a row where we had them neck and neck, one year we were ahead of them but we never expected that to happen for the next 10 years in a row.
“Manchester United is coming up, I think everyone can see that, Chelsea is in a brilliant place with a top squad.
“I have said it before, the squad [Thomas Tuchel] inherits is a present, you can see that they are really good, so it will not get easier.
“We speak only about City but there will be other teams, for sure.
“You have to deal with all the other teams and even when they are outstandingly strong you can say they are a little bit under the radar, like Leicester.
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“They have a brilliant manager, obviously (in Brendan Rodgers), a really, really good squad, a top manager, they are not gone, no-one should write off Arsenal or Tottenham.
“Obviously West Ham are flying, so how can it be easier?
“So it is not only Manchester City [to worry about].The good thing is with Man City is you only face them twice in the league.
“We have to win all the other games and that is tough enough in this league, but that is next year so who cares in this moment?
“We will give our everything again but now we are concentrating on Sunday.”