Jurgen Klopp celebrated on the pitch with his team following the win over Barcelona in last season's Champions League semi-final (Peter Byrne/PA)
Jurgen Klopp celebrated on the pitch with his team following the win over Barcelona in last season’s Champions League semi-final (Peter Byrne/PA)

Kevin Palmer

Graeme Souness believes Liverpool needed to inject a killer instinct to their make-up to turn promise into glory, as he paid tribute to Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League heroes.

Anfield legend Souness lifted the European Cup as Liverpool captain after their victory in the 1984 final against Roma and he believes Klopp’s side lacked a nasty streak as they were outsmarted in the 2018 Champions League final against Real Madrid.

With the most prestigious trophy in European football now back in the Anfield trophy cabinet, Souness suggests the sprinkling of steel that has been injected to the Liverpool make-up was crucial in helping them to end a trophy drought stretching back seven years.

“You look at what happened to Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev and it said to me that they were too honest for their own good,” says Virgin Media Sport analyst Souness.

“Sergio Ramos roughed up Mo Salah, Real Madrid were time-wasting when they needed to, they frustrated Liverpool and didn’t let them play.

“Klopp would have looked at that and realised that against the very best sides, just playing attacking football isn’t always enough and I believe we have seen different qualities from Liverpool this season.

“With Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk in their team now, they are tough to beat an no one enjoys playing them. The progress they have made over the last couple of years has not just been in their play, but also mentally and in their attitude.

“Klopp has assembled a group of fantastic players, honest players. They have one sole thing in their head as they go through the door and that is work harder than the guys they are up against. Couple that with the ability they have and they are a formidable outfit.

“If you are playing against them, there is no obvious weakness. Maybe young Trent Alexander-Arnold defensively has got a bit to go, but if you are looking to get joy against them, it’s hard to come up with any specific area.

“They work their socks off, they are in your face all the time and they actually bully teams, as far as the law allows you today.

“I spent some time with Klopp a few weeks back and told him he has a team that is destined to win a load of trophies. Of course, as a manager, he is reluctant to agree with you, but given the age and qualities they have, this is a team that is going to be around for a while. They are the real deal.”

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Virgin Media pundit and Liverpool legend Graeme Souness is pictured during a Q & A session at Virgin Media, Eastpoint Business Park in Dublin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Souness went on to a salute Klopp’s impact at Anfield, as he suggested the club’s owners deserve credit for getting their man in swift fashion after they sacked Brendan Rodgers in October 2015.

“Klopp has always seemed like a perfect fit for Liverpool,” states Souness. “He wears his heart on his sleeve and in what is an emotional club, the people there will like what they see from Klopp.

“His relationship with his players appears to be fantastic and that is not always easy to do in the game these days, given the dynamic between players and managers in the modern game.

“Then you see how the fans react to him and it is genuine affection. Some managers go out of their way to court the fans and try to get them on side, but Liverpool fans can see through that and they love Klopp’s honesty in good and bad times.

“The board could have waited a little longer and stuck by Brendan Rodgers back in 2015, but they wanted to make the change quickly to ensure Klopp was not taken by someone else and it has proved to be the correct decision.”

Souness insists Liverpool’s Champions League success can be the catalyst for a succession of trophies at Anfield, even though he admits the presence of treble-winners Manchester City in English football will be an obstacle they will struggle to overcome.

“Manchester City have proved they are right up there with the best teams we have seen and to get 198 points over two seasons is astonishing,” adds Souness.

“Can Liverpool repeat what they did in the Premier League this season and maybe go even better to overtake City? It’s hard to see and if you are Jurgen Klopp, you have to hope they come down a level or two, but I don’t see that happening.

“City will get close to 100 points again next season and if you want to win the Premier League, you have to reach those levels.”

Online Editors





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