LONDON (Reuters) – Juergen Klopp refused to rule out Liverpool as Premier League title contenders on Wednesday after ending the year level on points with Manchester United and nine behind leaders Arsenal.
“I don’t know,” the manager told Sky Sports television after Liverpool, who last won a top-flight title in 1990, won 1-0 at struggling Sunderland.
“You can see we have both 30 points. I think in this moment Liverpool feels not too bad and in Man Utd the atmosphere is not the best.
“We wanted at least 30 points, we got them. Perfect.”
United have been seen as contenders for much of the season despite lacklustre performances but the heat is on manager Louis van Gaal whose side have gone eight games without a win.
Klopp, now with 11 league matches under his belt since arriving at Liverpool to replace the sacked Brendan Rodgers, said things were going in the right direction.
“I can do better, but of course I did sometimes worse in my life so everything’s OK,” said the German.
Against a defensive Sunderland, second-bottom of the table and desperate for a draw to avoid a fifth successive defeat, Liverpool looked for the early goal but found it heavy going.
“We had our situations against a very good defending team, nearly only defending so that makes it harder for us,” said Klopp, who spoke to the players at halftime about the need to press more.
Adam Lallana, who provided the final touch for Christian Benteke to score 22 seconds into the second half, recognised Liverpool had got lucky.
“I don’t think I meant it to go directly into Christian’s path but sometimes you need the rub of the green, especially when you come to a tough place like this where they’re scrapping for every point,” he said.
“The manager’s tried to drum it into us that sometimes we’ve got to be a bit more dirty and got to fight a bit more, play teams at their own game,” Lallana added.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)