Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool’s season will be viewed as a failure if they do not win the Premier League title this season.
Liverpool have taken 27 points from a possible 33 in the league, and if they beat Fulham this weekend they will have their best goal difference and points total at this stage of the Premier League era.
Despite that, Liverpool head into this weekend in third place, tied with Chelsea and two points behind leaders Manchester City.
‘The season so far, point-wise, is really successful but it doesn’t feel like that for two reasons, Klopp said.
‘The comparison with last year and the free-flowing football, and Man City, Chelsea and the others who are playing a very good season as well.
‘You see this week, we struggle in Belgrade and they win 6-0. It’s a big gap. It feels a bit like that this season can only be a success if we become champion, in a year when our competitors are the champion of last year and the champion of two years ago.
‘And a refreshed Arsenal and a more experienced Tottenham, and Man United turning around. That’s a really tough job.
‘We go for everything. No problem with that, but we have to build on our situation to get better, more confidence. Tuesday was our massive knock, and now we have to react in the right way, not only on Sunday but in general.’
Klopp was asked whether the players can have their own input in the changing room following disappointing defeats such as the 2-0 Champions League loss to Red Star in midweek.
He said: ‘Can they speak in the dressing room? No, they can’t. There’s only one real assessment which counts and that’s mine.
‘We have all our emotions after a game, but disappointment and frustration is not advisable. If I’m angry or whatever, it doesn’t help. A full night allows me to see things in the right way.
‘The players talk to each other, but I don’t sit between them and ask! Usually after the meeting the day after the game, this game is done.’
Liverpool have won eight of their 11 Premier League matches this season and remain unbeaten but their goals tally is less than the teams around them.
But Klopp considers it disrespectful if they viewed Sunday’s game with bottom-placed Fulham as a chance to boost their total.
‘Wow! I would be really an idiot – people think I am but not that much! – if I would talk about goal difference before that game,’ said the German.
‘It would help if you would watch a few Fulham games before you ask a question like this. This is a really strange situation for Fulham, I can really imagine how they feel.
‘A lot of things are good – football is good, they caused City problems in the Carabao Cup, with really good football.
‘They are a really skilled team offensively, tuned and doing a lot of things, then the end product, the finishing, was not good enough often enough.
‘You cannot go into the game with the wrong attitude and think about scoring, scoring, scoring.
‘Big challenge for us, and we have to make sure that we really don’t forget what kind of situation we are in.
‘Atmosphere-wise, another challenge. 12 o’clock, so for all the people coming to the stadium, go to bed early on Saturday night, be in your best shape at lunchtime on Sunday and help!
‘If somebody goes there and expects an easy game then please stay at home, because it will not be, it will be a tough thing to do.
‘Yes, we want to show a reaction, that makes sense, but the right reaction.’