Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he has “lots of reasons” for optimism despite the crushing disappointment of missing out on Champions League qualification.
Manchester United’s 4-1 win against Chelsea on Thursday sealed their place in Europe’s elite club competition next season alongside champions Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle.
Writing on social media after United’s victory consigned Liverpool to Europa League football, forward Mohamed Salah said he was “devastated” and there was no excuse for not making the top four.
Klopp, whose team are guaranteed to finish fifth, told his pre-match press conference on Friday he had expected United and Newcastle to get the points they needed this week after Liverpool’s 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.
It means Liverpool, who narrowly missed out on a historic quadruple last year, have failed to qualify for the competition after featuring for six straight seasons.
“For a long time it was clear this will not be a historically good season,” said Klopp.
“I think I said everything about it, that we are absolutely not happy with it, that we made mistakes, that we couldn’t deliver, ultimately we weren’t consistent enough.”
But he said Liverpool’s late-season form, including a seven-match winning run in the league, had been impressive.
“If we could have done that over the whole season we would be in a different place,” said the German.
“Of course there are reasons for optimistic views because of the things we showed in the last few weeks. That’s definitely the case.
“We have other reasons for an optimistic view because of the atmosphere our people created in the last home game…. All these kinds of things are absolutely the basis for a fantastic future so we don’t have to make it bigger than it is. It’s a football season.
“We didn’t deliver what everybody wanted and everybody expected, rightly so, but we are still really united and that’s the good thing about it.”
Klopp acknowledged Liverpool would take a financial hit as a result of their failure to qualify for the Champions League but said he was still looking forward to next season.
“From a financial point of view that’s the only problem really,” he said. “That’s a big problem in football, I know that. But besides that we have European nights next year.
“Instead of Tuesday, Wednesday, it’s a Thursday. Who cares? Great games, atmosphere, we have the chance to do it all.
“The FA Cup will happen again, the League Cup will happen again, so great, we have the chance to do that. Obviously the Premier League is there as well so let’s give it a go.
“When everything goes in the right direction it’s always easy to feel this togetherness. If it’s not going in the right direction it’s much more challenging. I didn’t want to prove that point but we did and for me that’s the trophy we won this year.”