Premier League: Can Liverpool defend their title?
Jürgen Klopp called it “the best problem you can have”; AS English spoke to a former Liverpool star who knows what it takes to win consecutive league titles with the club.
After a 30-year wait, Liverpool finally picked up their record-equalling 19th English league title last season but with the Premier League set to return on Saturday, thoughts have already turned to the small matter of keeping it.
Speaking ahead of the new Premier League season, Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp was very clear on his thoughts about a potential title defence: "Someone told me we have to defend the title. If there is a title out there, we showed last year we are able to go for it. Doesn't mean we will win it this but it is there to be attacked. That is how I understand it. No games, no points, let's go for it!"
It is a field that Klopp has some experience in after leading former club Borussia Dortmund to consecutive Bundesliga titles in 2010/11 and 2011/12. Before that, Dortmund had only been crowned German champions six times in their hundred-year history.
Sammy Lee: “You need to constantly be striving to improve”
The last Liverpool side to achieve that feat was the all-conquering team of the 1980s who also won two European Cups. Under the management of Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan Liverpool were crowned English champions in 1982, 1983 and 1984.
Former Liverpool and England midfielder Sammy Lee was a part of the team who won that historic hat-trick of championships and he spoke to AS English about what it takes to defend the title: “It’s never easy to retain the league, it takes consistency, you need the right man at the helm and you need to constantly be striving to improve. You listen to these Liverpool players talk after the game and they are very mature and they are always focused on improvement. You only have to look at Klopp to understand the way his team plays. They have a multitude of stars but nobody acts like a star, they are all just a part of the team.”
During the Premier League era only three clubs have successfully defended the title. Manchester United did it six times under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson and Chelsea and Manchester City have done it once each. If Liverpool can match their own standards of the last two seasons they have a chance of joining that elite club.
Liverpool have done little business in the transfer market recently and Klopp admitted that securing back-to-back titles will be difficult with all of the Reds’ main rivals strengthening. But the Liverpool boss seems ready for the challenges ahead: "Being the defending champions is the best problem you can have. Yes, if it's a problem I don't know, but everyone gives me the feeling it should be. Everyone wants to be champion, that is not news to me."
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