Jürgen Klopp believes it will be more difficult for Liverpool to wrestle back the Premier League title next season as Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester will present greater challenges to Manchester City.
The Liverpool manager is adamant his team “will be better immediately” with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson available and that the reigning champions, who are 23 points behind City, “will challenge them again next year”. But he expects the competition to intensify with more teams emerging as rivals to Pep Guardiola’s champions-elect.
“It is always harder because Man City never stops; I think it is clear that they will not,” said Klopp. “But even though they had two years in a row where we had them neck and neck, and one year we were ahead of them, we never expected that to happen for the next 10 years in a row.
“Manchester United is coming up, everyone can see that, Chelsea is in a brilliant place with a top squad. I have said it before, the squad [Thomas Tuchel] inherited is a present, 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 who, even when they are outstandingly strong, you can say they are a little bit under the radar like Leicester. They have a brilliant manager and a really good squad. No one should write off Arsenal or Tottenham. Obviously West Ham are flying, so how can it be easier? It is not only Manchester City to worry about.”
Klopp’s immediate concern is keeping Liverpool in contention for Champions League qualification, which he concedes requires winning all five remaining games this season, starting with United on Sunday.
The Liverpool manager, who is yet to win at Old Trafford, said: “The Europa League is a great competition but I haven’t thought it through because, even though it is not likely, I know that there is a little chance for the Champions League as well, so let’s give a try and think about what happens next season.
“Five wins won’t be enough, it depends how the other teams do obviously, but without five wins we don’t have a chance. If we are five points behind with 15 to play for, why would we write it off? Man United still thinks they can become champions, rightly so, so we think we can still go to the Champions League, but we still need results in other games. We know that. Without winning your own games you won’t go anywhere.”