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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has played down the importance of leading from the front in the Premier League, saying his players are focused as the season enters its final stretch.
Manchester City trailed Liverpool by seven points in January but are now one point clear as they chase a second consecutive league title.
Klopp, whose side face Fulham on Sunday, can leapfrog City, who are playing Swansea in the FA Cup quarter-finals this weekend.
“Being ahead of City when City have a game in hand is not that important,” he said in his pre-match press conference on Friday. “Psychologically we didn’t struggle because we’re not ahead of them any more. That doesn’t change.
“We try to be as long as possible in the tunnel, really focused on the football game and if there’s something to celebrate at the end of the season we will be the first involved in the celebrations but until then let’s play football.”
Klopp said Liverpool’s midweek victory against Bayern Munich in the Champions League was the most mature performance in Europe since he had been in charge at Anfield, but the game against struggling Fulham would be tricky.
“I’ve known my boys now three-and-a-half years and I would say it’s tricky in itself because it’s Fulham and I know what people probably expect but we know about that, it’s nothing to do with the Champions League game on Wednesday so it’s just a very important game to us,” he said.
“We don’t think about the situation in the table or whatever, we are only focused on our situation but we know how difficult it is.
“We only have to take our game against Fulham at home. We needed a genius moment from Ali (Alisson Becker), Trent (Alexander-Arnold) and Mo (Salah) to win that game.”
Klopp said his players were staying level-headed despite the growing pressures, dismissing the idea that near misses in recent seasons gave them extra motivation.
“That’s normal that we want to prove things but it’s not that we wake up in the morning and think we lost against City in the League Cup final, Europa League final against Sevilla and against Real Madrid in Kiev (2018 Champions League final),” he said.
“The things we did last year helped us of course this year because it’s our experience.
“It’s not that we’re the most experienced team but we had a very fresh experience from last year — what do we have to do? It helped us a lot for the game against Munich.”
And Klopp said he is not interested in his personal legacy.
“I’m not searching for being remembered in 50 years or whatever the people speak about me,” he said. “For me it’s no pressure, only opportunity.
“I love what I do. I think I have a fantastic team out there and that’s all I need to be a happy person.”
? 2019 AFP