Jurgen Klopp vowed this season was just the “first step” for his Liverpool team as he congratulated Manchester City on pipping his side to the Premier League title on Sunday.
Liverpool beat Wolves 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday thanks to two goals from Sadio Mane, but City came from behind to win 4-1 at Brighton and retain their title by a single point.
It meant Liverpool ended the season on 97 points, the third-highest tally in Premier League history, but fell agonisingly short of securing their first English top-flight title since 1990.
“Congratulations to Manchester City,” Liverpool boss Klopp told the BBC. “We tried everything to make it as difficult as possible but not difficult enough. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys.
“It’s incredible what they did all season and today was a strange situation. We were really good until 1-0, what happened then was clear. You can’t tell the people to calm down.”
City trailed for 83 seconds after Glenn Murray’s first-half header for Brighton, briefly putting Liverpool two points clear at the top as it stood, but Pep Guardiola’s side fought back to ultimately win with ease.
“At that moment (when Liverpool fans celebrated Brighton’s goal) it was a shock for everyone and Wolves were there,” added Klopp.
“We had to fight. In the end we scored two and kept a clean sheet. It’s nice but not how we wanted it.
“It’s clear we had to work hard and City too. Our target during the week was to get 97 points, we got that — that’s special. We want to write our own history and we did.
“Today feels not so good but we have plenty of time to prepare for an important game in three weeks (Champions League final).”
– ‘We’ll be there again’ –
Klopp hailed his team’s progress in the past year, having needed a 4-0 victory over Brighton on the final day of last season just to finish fourth.
“The boys were all there from last season apart from (goalkeeper) Alisson,” he said. “He had a big impact but all the rest were here last season.
“It’s a very special season, a better season than I played with my team (Borussia Dortmund) when we were champions in Germany. But we cannot ignore one team were better.
“It’s clear we were lucky in moments, like City were. We were unlucky against City but scored in the last second against Everton and late on against Newcastle, they could have been draws as well…
“They (City) have 198 points in two years, that’s special. We made such big steps. It’s only the first step. Always after a good year we lost key players (in the past) but we won’t (this time) so we’ll be there again.”
Liverpool could yet be crowned European champions for a sixth time if they beat English rivals Tottenham in the Champions League final in Madrid on June 1.
And Klopp told Sky Sports: “We have three weeks to prepare for the Champions League final — let’s give it a go.”