Jurgen Klopp believes that Liverpool are still capable of finishing fifth this season as he prepares for his very first taste of the Merseyside derby. The eighth-place Reds, who beat Bournemouth 2-1 last weekend, host their local rivals at Anfield on Wednesday (20 April) and currently lie five points adrift of Manchester United with a game in hand to come against relegation battlers Newcastle.
Following their remarkable 5-4 aggregate victory over Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool travel to face La Liga side Villarreal next week for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final meeting at Estadio El Madrigal. While many might expect that match to take precedence over a fairly mediocre top-flight campaign, the manager insists no-one is looking beyond their next task.
"Nobody in the dressing room thinks about [the] European league, to be honest," Klopp said at his pre-match press conference. "It's only "what can we reach in this Premier League season? What's our position at the end?'
"Liverpool is a very big club, it's very important. It's a big difference if you are seventh, sixth, fifth or fourth...We can be fifth at the end, and that's a better place than seventh, a better place than eighth. We need to try everything to get the best position at the end of the season."
Although Klopp has yet to face Everton since succeeding Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool boss in October 2015, he has already presided over three meetings with Manchester United. He also took charge of Dortmund for several fierce Ruhr derby clashes against Schalke and has called for his side to channel their aggression.
"Before I came to Dortmund, there were a lot of red cards in derbies," he added. "I don't like this kind of showing. Maybe 20 fans want to see that you do things like this but you will never help. A red card can happen if you are a second late in a challenge or whatever, but not because you want to show 'I'm the man'.
"I understand aggressiveness only in one way and that's being prepared to hurt yourself, not somebody else. If you are really aggressive, really ready and if you feel all the passion, then you do more than usual. That's possible, but not in this part of the game."