Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool must win at least three of their final four games to make the Champions League — and kick-start the next stage of his Anfield revolution.
Boss Klopp ’s side face a nail-biting finish to their bid for a top-four Premier League finish, with both Manchester clubs breathing down their neck.
If City and United win their Sunday games against strugglers Middlesbrough and Swansea respectively, Liverpool will be fifth when they kick-off away to Watford on Monday night.
Yet, Klopp is sure that his players are mature enough to cope with the pressure as they look to hold off the challenge from Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
And he played down the idea that the next four games – with the trip to Vicarage Road followed by matches against Southampton, West Ham and Middlesbrough – are the biggest of his 18-month Anfield reign.
But he does admit that there is little margin for error after last Sunday’s surprise defeat at home to Crystal Palace.
Klopp said: “If we win no games in the last four, it will be difficult to be in the Champions League.
“If we win one, it will be unlikely.
“If we win two, it’s not really likely.
“But if we win three, it can work.
“If we win four, I would say it’s more likely it will happen.
“The only way to do this is to win the next one, and that’s what we should try. It’s difficult enough without getting involved in all the pressure around it.”
His response to being asked about the intensity of the next four games is to point to all the big
moments he has faced as Liverpool boss.
He led them to last season’s Europa League final – with an extraordinary comeback win against his former club Borussia Dortmund on the way – before they were beaten by Sevilla.
Klopp said: “Is it the most important time? I’m not sure. How was the week before the Europa League final against Sevilla last year? I would say we have had a few important weeks and we are only in this position because we have been really serious in preparing for all the games.”
Klopp, set to welcome back Adam Lallana after more than a month out with a thigh injury, believes his team have grown up since finishing eighth in the Premier League last season.
Liverpool’s summer transfer plans appear to be underway
He wants to strengthen his squad over the summer, but is aware that securing Champions League football will be a major factor in attracting top talent.
He said: “When I came here, nobody told me immediately, but I could hear people say that Adam Lallana was not able to play more than 60 minutes, Jordan Henderson struggled in the captain’s role, Dejan Lovren was not a proper centre-half. But they have all made big progress.
“I think we can still develop as a group as long as the players are ready for the next step in their development. Everything is fine, but we can bring in more quality and they can push each other to the next level, but for this, we need European football.
“We will see where we exactly end and finalise our plans and then we go into the next season.”