Jurgen Klopp considers the improvement made by Liverpool to be “all good”, but concedes they will have to get even better in order to hit their targets.
When the German arrived at Anfield, he was charged with the task of picking up the pieces from Brendan Rodgers and building for the future.
He has made progress in that quest, with impressive recruitment and the forging of unshakable team spirit helping to build expectation around the Reds.
Major silverware has remained elusive, though, and Klopp is aware of the need to maintain the momentum built over the last 12 months if collective potential is to be fulfilled.
He told Liverpool’s website: “We can improve – we have to and we will.
“But between our best football and now, we have to win football games. That’s how it is and that’s what we’ve done already.
“There’s absolutely no reason for criticising the boys, they do a really good job.
“So many things are better than last year: defending is better, set-pieces are better; we are much more mature in games, game management is better. So many things are better.
“Last year at the same time, we didn’t have 20 good games – we lost at Tottenham in October. In the Champions League, we were flying, that’s true.
“Belgrade, by the way, there is no excuse for that – it was just a really bad game. And Napoli was not a really good game as well.
“So there were two days we were really not good, that’s true. All the other games were really good.
“We played against PSG; they have lost one game in the whole season in all competitions and that was against us.
“It’s all good, I like the season. There has been a lot of improvement so far and there is still space for further improvement. But a very intense period is coming up now.”
Liverpool do face a testing run through to the end of the calendar year.
They are unbeaten through 12 Premier League games, but return to action against Watford on Saturday and have top-flight meetings with Everton, Manchester United and Arsenal to come.
Klopp’s side also have two crunch Champions League clashes with Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli approaching as they bid to make their way into the last 16.