Jurgen Klopp admits he feared playing in the Europa Conference League last season

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Jurgen Klopp admits he feared playing in the Europa Conference League last season, a year after a deflating draw with Newcastle before Liverpool won their last five games to claim a top-four finish.

  • A year ago Joe Willock scored a late goal for Newcastle in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool
  • Jurgen Klopp says he feared playing in Europa Conference League after that
  • Liverpool have won their remaining five games to secure a Champions League place
  • Now the Reds are battling on all fronts as they aim for a historic quadruple

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits there were times last season when he was worried about having to play in the Europa Conference League.

Everton’s visit on Sunday for the 240th Merseyside derby marks the first anniversary of a 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle which put their first four Premier League hopefuls in grave danger.

They then won their remaining five games and finished comfortably third as Chelsea and Leicester faded and since that draw with Newcastle they have dropped just 20 points from a possible 111.

Jurgen Klopp admitted he feared playing in the Europa Conference League last season

It saw them win the League Cup, reach the FA Cup final, the Champions League semi-final and sit within a point of Manchester City in the title race.

“What we did last year, what the boys did last year, was very special in such a difficult situation,” he said.

“Qualifying for the Champions League was huge. There were a lot of moments before the Newcastle game – I didn’t know it was a year ago – when I was like, ‘Ah, it’s difficult and we won’t get there this year”.

“We had times where we thought, ‘OK, I hope we don’t have to play Conference League. It’s like that because it’s “OK, when does it start?” and then you have to readjust the pre-season planning and all that kind of stuff.

1-1 draw with Newcastle jeopardizes Liverpool's chances of finishing in the top four

1-1 draw with Newcastle jeopardizes Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the top four

“I remember those thoughts. And then the boys won five games in spectacular fashion – West Brom, Ali’s (Alisson) header, all that stuff. Exceptional, I loved every piece.

After their struggles to defend their title last season, badly affected by the loss of three first-choice defenders, many pundits didn’t have Liverpool to be in contention this season.

But already this campaign has exceeded expectations, although Klopp insists he had no specific goals in mind when it started.

A year on, Liverpool are battling on all fronts as they aim for a historic quadruple this season

A year on, Liverpool are battling on all fronts as they aim for a historic quadruple this season

“I didn’t expect us to win the Carabao Cup, to be in the FA Cup final, in the Champions League semi-finals and one point behind the leaders of the table,” he said. added.

“I didn’t think about it, to be honest, but I knew we would be better.

“But saying that, we knew by the time we can bring in Ibou (Ibrahima Konate’s summer signing) and when the other three boys (Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip) are back, we’ll be stronger, it’s clear.

Klopp says he didn't expect his team to be where they are now at the start of the season

Klopp says he didn’t expect his team to be where they are now at the start of the season

“When you’re third and you’re stronger and you’ve had a bad year for different reasons, it’s a normal human reaction that you step up pretty much every effort.

“That’s what we did, but then we had an absolutely decent first half of the season, but it wasn’t that people were over the moon when you’re 14 points behind the leader (in January) and probably a lot of other teams between us and them.

“But again, what the boys have done with it has been pretty special so far. We knew we would be better but that we would be in this position, I had no idea.

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