Jurgen Klopp has channelled Jose Mourinho by considering a third-placed finish with Liverpool in 2021 as one of his best career successes.
Liverpool endured a difficult defence of their only Premier League title in the 2020/21 season, losing six consecutive home games and sitting outside the Champions League qualification places at the start of May.
But the Reds powered into third place by winning each of their last five games as part of a closing 10-game unbeaten run, finishing ahead of Chelsea and Leicester, albeit behind Manchester United by five points – and a whole 17 behind champions Manchester City.
A report in The Athletic explains how it was one of the toughest seasons Klopp has endured, from the complications of pandemic football to injuries, issues in training and problems on the pitch.
Klopp is said to have become ‘obsessed’ between January and May of 2021, barely taking time off and finding it ‘impossible to say what he really believed’ because of the condensed nature of the fixture schedule.
‘It added to the feeling that he was living in a cage,’ writes James Pearce, who adds: ‘He felt guilty about earning so much money but not being able to come up with any solutions.’
And echoing the thoughts of Jose Mourinho, who once described finishing distant Premier League runners-up with Manchester United in 2018 as “one of my biggest achievements in the game,” it is said that Klopp ‘considers it one of his greatest achievements’ to have finished the campaign in third.
You understand why Mourinho said his greatest achievement was finishing second with these players. You laughed and slated him for it… now look. #MUFC
— HM (@MUnitedGirl) October 6, 2019
The German took an almost eight-week holiday at the end of that season, the first seven days of which he ensured not to look at his phone to help refresh him.
It was during the subsequent pre-season that he underlined his admiration for Harvey Elliott by privately distancing the club from speculation over Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez.