Liverpool: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said that the future of a "united Liverpool" looks exciting despite the Reds missing out on UEFA Champions League this time around.
For the first time under Klopp's tenure, Liverpool has failed to book a slot in the prestigious European competition after Manchester United's win over Chelsea confirmed their elimination from the UEFA Champions League spot race. The top scorer for Reds, Mo Salah also tweeted that he was "devastated". Klopp admitted that "mistakes" were made throughout the season but said that there were plenty of reasons to stay optimistic for the future.
"For me, it was clear the other two teams [Newcastle and Man Utd] would get that point [they needed to secure Champions League football]," he said in his press conference ahead of Liverpool's final game of the season against Southampton on Sunday as quoted by Sky Sports.
"I drew a line. If it had happened we would have gone for it but we do not have to change the mood again. In the world of social media, so many bad things happen constantly. I do not think that was one of them. It was a normal description of his feelings and in that moment after the game, it is not the moment to send optimistic messages (on Salah's post).
"But I saw him now in the canteen and he was smiling. I do not know for what reason but he was not in a bad mood. For a long time here it was clear this would not be a historically good season. We were absolutely not happy with it. We made mistakes, we were not consistent enough."
"The amount of points we have collected since the World Cup is pretty good and if we had done that over the whole season we would have been in a different place. Of course, there are reasons to be optimistic. That is definitely the case. We have other reasons to be optimistic - the atmosphere our people created after the last home game. All these things are absolutely the basis for a fantastic future."
"We do not have to make it bigger than it is. It is a football season. We did not deliver what everybody wanted and expected. But we are still really united and that is the good thing about it. If you can go through difficult moments like we did then that is a really good basis for a better future. I find a lot of reasons for an optimistic view," concluded Klopp.
Klopp further said that it is natural to feel bad once the outcome is confirmed to not be in your favour. Though he said that the dressing room is united and not in a "bad mood".
"But I can understand right after the game, when it was decided, is when you feel it. That for me was no different than it was for Mo. The dressing room is not in a bad mood. We learnt to deal with the situation. We did not get divided in one moment. We did not point fingers at each other."
"If you do not qualify for the Champions League the best possible place is fifth and we did that. If you had ask me 10 games ago if we could do that I would have said no. There is no reason why we should put our head down and leave it there until the new season starts. I saw very good signs and they are the things I will take for the new season," added the manager.
Klopp said that the setback this time "has to" be Liverpool's motivator for next year.
Asked if Liverpool's setback this season could be a motivator for next year, Klopp said: "It has to."
"We have failed to give the people more to enjoy. We had our moments. It would have been a normal season if we ended up fourth, not great but still qualification for the Champions League. The big disappointment is this little thing, which is obviously a big one."
"But sometimes you have to accept it. I am here now for seven and a half years. That is a really long time and everything goes always in the right direction with big steps? That is not likely. We could have done better but there are dips. Usually after three or four years, you change the manager, he starts completely new."
"Yes, I understand it is a really good thing I am here that long but it is a challenge as well because you have to invent yourself new. That is what we have started now. I think that is super exciting. And with all the trust and faith we have and feel for each other is a super basis. Nobody is tired or thinks, 'Who cares'? Everybody cares a lot and wants to do their absolute best."
"I felt, in a difficult year, I felt the unity between us and the supporters. It is so important. If there was a point to prove it again, it was how they said goodbye to the players. I love that. That will be the trampoline for us. From there, we have to go. From a financial point of view, that is the only problem really. That is a big problem in football. I know that. But besides that, we have European nights next year."
"Instead of a Tuesday/Wednesday it is a Thursday. Who cares? Great games, atmosphere, a chance to do it all, the FA Cup will happen again, the League Cup will happen again. We have the chance to do that. The Premier League is there as well. Let us give it a go! When everything goes in the right direction it is easy to feel togetherness but when it is not it is more challenging. I did not want to prove that point but we did and that was, for me, the trophy we won this year," Klopp concluded.
Asked if Liverpool missing the CL spot will impact their transfer plans, Klopp appeared relaxed and did not feel the need to get the deals done immediately at the start of the upcoming window.
"I do not think so but we will see [if no Champions League affects whether players want to come]," he said. "It is always possible things don't go as you want because the better the players you want the lesser is the desire of the other club to let him go. That is what we have to be prepared for.
"But it is a long window and it is a long pre-season and a long break so we have time. If we get new players in tomorrow or in six, seven weeks it is not a game changer for me. In an ideal world, they will all fly in tomorrow and I can give them their plans for the summer break and these things. But all good," concluded the manager.