Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool “have to be” Rocky Balboa in this season’s Premier League title race and compared Manchester City to Ivan Drago.
Liverpool finished 25 points behind champions Manchester City last season, and Klopp was asked at news conference on Friday what needed to be done to close the gap this time around after a summer in which Fabinho, Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri and goalkeeper Alisson joined the club.
Klopp used an analogy from the film ‘Rocky IV,’ where heavyweight boxer Balboa takes down the favourite Ivan Drago, to describe Liverpool’s task ahead in the upcoming campaign.
“I know a lot of people because we were that active in the transfer window,” he said. “That’s all part of the business, but it doesn’t decide anything.
“We want to — that’s clear for ages — be the champion of England or winning the league.
“But how could we say that, what about the other clubs? The champions are Manchester City. They didn’t lose any player. They brought in [Riyad] Mahrez, so that doesn’t make them weaker. So they are top quality.
“We are still Rocky Balboa and not Ivan Drago. We cannot be. How? We are the ones that have to do more, to fight more, to do all these things. That must be our attitude.
“We didn’t reach anything so far. We were in finals. Do we go to finals again? Yes, we should try to win it this time. In the league it’s exactly the same.
“In the moment, it’s nothing. It’s like scientists without trying if it really works. We have to be like ‘Rocky’.”
Klopp insists, though, that Liverpool will do their utmost in 2018-19 to try and earn the club its first ever Premier League title.
They are looking to build on an appearance in last season’s Champions League final and back-to-back finishes in the top four.
“We have to be more consistent. We know that,” Klopp continued. “We have to be more clinical in the right moments. We have to be more aggressive in the right moments. There’s a lot of things. We can improve everything.
“But again, you all ask me about the gap of City and what we have to do. It has nothing to do with City. Win all of them and it’s good, but it’s pretty difficult to do so.
“There are not only the big six or whatever, if you see what happens around — you see how Wolverhampton acts, how Fulham acts, how Everton acts. I don’t want to forget anybody but they are all ambitious.
“We can’t go there and only because we are Liverpool we will win the game there. That’s all really difficult. But it’s not only difficult for us, it’s difficult for the other teams as well. That’s all.
“I don’t think too much about what we have to do in general. I thought about it for the preseason, but now we have to be in this championship mood. We have to come in a championship mood. That’s the plan — that we really go for it.”
Liverpool will be without Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan for Sunday’s opener, while checks will be made on the fitness Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
Lovren and Henderson have only just returned from extended holidays after the World Cup, with Fabinho suffering from illness after undergoing a scan on Thursday.
“The scan was clear, I heard you all know he had a scan so maybe at one point we can change that as well,” Klopp said. “I don’t know exactly how — fancy dress for the players or whatever!
“But he felt ill when he came back so we sent him home again and I didn’t see him so far and didn’t ask anybody. We will see.
“[They] are all in a different shape. Trent, a bit longer in, which is good; [Henderson] in and full of power, but not too long in — three or four days — but it’s Hendo so you always think about him. Dejan will not be available for the weekend, that’s how it is.
“We will see, we have not big issues but we have these little things where we have to think about if it’s a risk or not and if it’s a risk do we take it or not and all that stuff.
“Ragnar, no real chance, he didn’t train. Joel did parts of training yesterday, like Joe did, so we will see how they are today.”