Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side’s run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League should banish the notion that he has struggled to move the club forward in his third season at Anfield.
Klopp has yet to mount a sustained challenge for the Premier League title and is still waiting for his first trophy at Liverpool, but the German believes his side’s run in Europe’s elite competition confirms they have taken strides in the right direction.
Liverpool made progress in the Champions League after a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Tuesday secured a 5-0 aggregate win against FC Porto, earning the Reds a place in the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time in eight years.
“The last eight is cool,” declared Klopp. “We’re a little bit satisfied and it’s already good. I think it was time we showed up again.
“There is good development in Liverpool in the moment, it’s a nice moment, but if you don’t show up in a competition like the Champions League then nobody really will realise it. I’m happy for all the people involved that we have made that step. So it’s done, it’s good, now let’s carry on.”
When asked whether he is surprised to have made such comfortable progress to the last eight of the Champions League, Klopp stated: “I never had a timescale for it in my mind and thought ‘then we have to be there and then we have to be there’.
“I don’t want to make it smaller than it is, but I don’t want to make it bigger than it is. I think this year we belong there, to be honest – it should not be a big surprise.
“The next round will be very difficult, I think that’s clear. There are seven other very good teams that will be involved. Maybe four of them are then from England and that doesn’t make it easier, to be honest, but I think we’ll have a chance, for sure, to go to the semis and that’s the target. But you’re right, take it step by step and tonight it’s cool, absolutely. This year we had the first opportunity to do it and now we are in it, so I think we are in time.”
Klopp also downplayed suggestions that his side will have an advantage heading into Saturday’s Premier League game at Manchester United, as he dismissed the notion that Jose Mourinho’s side will have one eye on their Champions League clash against Sevilla next week, which is tied at 0-0 from the first leg in Spain.
“No advantage,” he added. “Manchester United are very experienced and very fit, as we saw last night – they can score late, so I don’t think they are too worried about playing on Saturday and then again on Tuesday.
“Actually, we didn’t think for a second when we played Newcastle that we had to play on Tuesday again. That’s how our life is – do what you have to do and after that, start thinking about the next step. No, I don’t think it’s an advantage. It’s just another game.”