Among the many Liverpool banners spotted in away ends across the country this season, the return of an old favorite has rarely been more timely.
“Making us all skint since 2015” declares the message alongside a photo of Jurgen Klopp, referencing how supporters are having to once again dig deep into their coffers to fund traveling around England and Europe to watch their team take on – and usually beat – all -comers.
It had been first been spotted ahead of the Champions League final in 2019 when, for the second year in succession, Liverpool fans in their tens of thousands had made their way to the Continent to watch their team in the showpiece occasion.
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There is, of course, another to come to Paris next weekend with Real Madrid standing in the way of a seventh European Cup. Closer to home, though, Liverpool fans have certainly been getting value for money out of the Premier League season during the Klopp era.
For the fifth time out of six full campaigns under the German, the Reds have something to play for on the final day. In 2017, 2018 and last year, it was to secure Champions League qualification. In 2019, as now, it’s an attempt to overhaul Manchester City to win the title. And the solitary time there was nothing on the line, Liverpool had weeks before secured their first championship in 30 years.
Such tension has become old hat in the Klopp household. But with two trophies already in the bag and the prospect of two more to come, is the Reds boss experiencing the most exciting time of his managerial career?
“Definitely,” he says. “Absolutely. I was unlucky enough to have a few exciting times … if you ask my missus (Ulla), she will tell you ‘why always until the last matchday?’ because that happens incredibly often. But, yes, this is the most exciting.
“Because being where we are and seeing how the boys are, seeing the steps we made and with just two games to go – it’s unbelievable, it seems like five minutes ago it was seven games – that’s how it is, bam, and here we go.
“We have two finals. We have been playing finals for ages, but really (these are) two finals. It is massive. It is absolutely massive and, yes, it is the most exciting time of my career.”
The first of those finals comes at Anfield today when Wolverhampton Wanderers visit. A Liverpool victory would open up the possibility of a title triumph provided City, playing at the same time and standing one point clear at the Premier League summit, fail to beat Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa.
It seems a big ask, even if the Reds have already performed wonders in slashing down a City lead that briefly stood at 14 points in mid-January.
Klopp, though, is accustomed to final-day drama. During his first job in the dugout at Mainz, he was denied promotion to the Bundesliga in 2002 by a point and then, 12 months later, by goal difference. Those experiences have allowed the Reds boss to take a more considered view of chasing down City and Liverpool’s remarkable pursuit of all four major trophies, imploring the players and fans to make sure to enjoy every step of an already unforgettable campaign no matter how much silverware is eventually accrued.
“I’m not sure I said it at the time (about the journey when at Mainz), but I thought it,” recalls Klopp. “The year is obviously 365 days, and at Mainz 364 were better than ever before in our lives as footballers, and the last one was particularly bad. And it was up to us to judge what we make of that. I thought ‘well, let’s give it a try and make 365 of it ‘, that’s how it is. But you need the other 364 as well. That’s what we always did.
“At Mainz, life gave me another knock because we did not get promoted because of a point, and then a goal, so it was a real test, and then we got promoted.
“Things work out if you stay on track, if you stay in the right mood and that’s what we will be. I learned it early, and that’s the only way I can do it actually. I enjoy the journey a lot, and anybody else who wants to do that is invited. If not, then I can not change that. “
This season’s Premier League ends for Liverpool today. The journey under Klopp, though, is nowhere near finished.