Jurgen Klopp had to google the meaning of asterisk given the talk around Liverpool’s impending title win during lockdown, but says if one is applied it should be because it’s “the most difficult year to become champions.”
The Merseysiders were 25 points clear at the summit – the biggest-ever lead in English top-flight history – when coronavirus forced the suspension of the elite game in the country for 96 days.
Klopp admitted it was difficult to swallow when some clubs at the opposite end of the table were pushing to get the campaign voided during lengthy discussions about how to resolve the situation.
With the Premier League having resumed on Wednesday under Project Restart, the debate has evolved to whether Liverpool ending their 30-year league drought will be diminished by the break in the season and with games now being played behind closed doors.
“Usually I do not pay too much attention to what everyone is saying around us,” Klopp said ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Everton. “Now I have had a lot of time to read and hear a lot and see a lot. I had to google the word ‘asterisk’ because I only knew the word from the comics.
“This is the most difficult year and season to become champions – 100 per cent. It is an interrupted season like has never happened before and whoever will be champions at the end, it will be historical because it is a year that we will never forget.
“Hopefully it is the only year we ever have like this as human beings and as a society because I hope we will find solutions for this kind of stuff in the future.
“It is historic now more than ever. Give us an asterisk. Yes. Do it. Because it is the most difficult season ever.
“The only difference is there is quite a points gap between us and other teams, but if you saw Manchester City playing the other night – saw the team they put out, the bench they had where they changed five times and there was still no Leroy Sane on the pitch – you think, ‘wow, that is really impressive’.
“That is our opponent. Not only them, but that is the season they are playing. That is why when they were having the discussions about the season I felt quite tense during the lockdown. Now it is over and we are here.”
Liverpool require two more victories to be crowned champions of England, but Klopp does not want them to simply cross the line. He is demanding maximum effort as the club seek to ensure a special finish to a remarkable campaign.
They can become the first Premier League side to win all 19 home fixtures in a season.
Liverpool can record the most victories in a campaign, currently only five away from matching the 32 claimed by City in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Another 19 points from a possible 27 will see the Reds eclipse the 100-point mark set by Pep Guardiola’s men.
Liverpool can become the first club to secure the title with at least six matches in hand. And they are also on course to register the biggest winning margin, surpassing the 19-point gap City swaggered to the title by in 2017-18.
“We worked so hard for this and we do not want to get over the line ‘somehow.’ We want to play football,” Klopp said. “Nobody has to tell us we are nearly there. I am not interested in nearly, or in close. I am interested in playing the best football we can play. We have no limits or comparisons to football behind closed doors. Is it possible to play outstanding, great, run a lot and run more than other periods? I do not know, but let’s give it a try.
“Let people enjoy our football at home. It is our job to make it as special as possible, especially for the LFC supporters. Hopefully it is like this. What people outside make of it, I couldn’t care less.”