Jürgen Klopp has said he and Mauricio Pochettino must accept the outside world will judge their managerial careers on silverware, as he hopes to win the Champions League final at the third attempt.
The Liverpool manager shares his Tottenham counterpart's view that it is "unfair" to measure success purely in terms of trophies won, describing as "silly" such an uncompromising assessment.
Klopp has lost his past six cup finals as manager, including the 2018 and 2013 Champions League finals, and was pipped to this season's Premier League title by a point by Manchester City. He insists Liverpool's campaign will live with him forever irrespective of the finale, but admits history will not be so kind without victory at Estadio Metropolitano.
"I think Poch is right but that's not important," said the Liverpool manager, who described Roberto Firmino as fit and ready but refused to confirm whether the influential Liverpool striker would start.
“The thing is, you – the outside world – it is your right to judge us by what we win and what we don’t win. Look back in 20 years and nobody will talk about our brilliant season – unless another team comes close to 97 points – but, for me, as a person, it will stay forever.
“That is probably what Poch is like as well, but the outside world is like this and we have to accept that. But to judge a coach by what he is winning is a silly thing because we all have different circumstances. We all have different teams, different clubs. We have to fight with or against different things. The manager of the year award this year [Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder] was a really good decision. It’s a good sign that people are looking behind the scenes when making this decision, looking at the circumstances, his resources and how they played.
“Coaches, most of us, judge each other not on trophies. And not because most of us don’t win but because we know about the job. I don’t say Pep Guardiola is the best – which is what I really think – because he constantly wins the league he’s in. It’s because of the football they play and the things he’s doing.”
Klopp believes Liverpool's run to a ninth European Cup/Champions League final was "fuelled by the experience of last year" when his team endured a calamitous defeat by Real Madrid. He admits winning 97 points in the Premier League but not the title will also spur his players in their attempts to crown Liverpool champions of Europe for a sixth time.
“It is a lot of motivation for Saturday, but I don’t have to be sad to be motivated,” he said. “We had a brilliant season. You don’t always motivate because something negative happens. It’s about what we can reach.”
Klopp was asked at his pre-final press conference in Madrid whether he believed in unlucky managers, having lost his past six cup finals – three with Liverpool and three with Borussia Dortmund.
“My career so far is not unlucky,” he replied. “My missus says it all the time: ‘When is the last game of the season?’ Because since 2012, and apart from 2017, every year my team has been in a final. I am probably the world record holder in winning semi-finals. I could write a book about that but no one would buy it. I don’t sit here and think about myself and think ‘loser’. And, if we won tomorrow, I would not sit here thinking ‘winner’. We want to win it with all we have. They can be lucky moments and in my two Champions League finals I was never on the lucky side.”
Meanwhile, Klopp has said Roberto Firmino is fit and ready for Saturday night’s final, although he refused to confirm the influential Liverpool striker would start against Tottenham.
Firmino has missed Liverpool’s last three matches with a groin muscle injury and trained only occasionally with the full squad since rejoining the group in Marbella last week. Klopp had said the Brazil international would return to full training on Wednesday, but that plan was delayed until Thursday as the striker continued an individual training programme.
The 27-year-old, who has played only 12 minutes of competitive football since April 21st, completed Liverpool’s training session at Estadio Metropolitano on Friday. Divock Origi is favourite to start against Spurs should Klopp decide Firmino is too much of a risk for European football’s showpiece occasion.
“Yes, he is ready,” the Liverpool manager said of Firmino. “Whether he will start? I thought I’d keep a few question marks open. He’s fit, he’s here. Unless anything happens in the training session later he should be fine.”