The Reds have been cursed this season and have not been able to defend their title, totally outclassed by a great City team.
Jurgen Klopp believes that Manchester City would not have regained the Premier League title this season if they had been forced to deal with the same injuries as Liverpool, as the Reds prepare for one last chance to qualify for the Champions League.
The Merseyside club, holders of the English league title for the first time in three decades, have struggled to defend their crown this season, and at one point looked in serious danger of being left out of continental soccer after several key injuries, particularly at the back.
City, on the other hand, recovered from a sluggish start to win a third title under Pep Guardiola and reach the Champions League final for the first time under the Spaniard, but the German believes that had they been similarly hampered, they would not be sitting at the top this time around.
“As good as they are, if City have their three central defenders out, no [they don’t win the league],” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference ahead of the final day game against Crystal Palace.
“United’s three central defenders, no. Throughout the season, it’s like that. But the problem with a season is that you can’t separate the negative parts from the positive parts and say we’re almost there.”
Klopp expanded on how the loss of players like Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sabotaged Liverpool’s chances of fighting for the title once again, adding, “I said when we lost our center backs, all of them pretty much, we broke our leg, but we could still win games.
“It wasn’t always in the most convincing way, but we were still winning games, scoring goals.
“Then we had to – and we had to at the time – turn the midfielders into central defenders and that broke our backbone. Then the whole organization disappeared. The young boys weren’t ready to play center back.
“We lost the rhythm all of a sudden, but not all the time. A soccer team is like an orchestra with a lot of people working together, and if you lose one piece, you might still be able to do it, but if you lose two, it becomes difficult.
“I’ve said it before, this year, with the number of injuries we had, it was not the year to become champions. No chance. For anyone.
“We fought a little bit, accepted the difficulties and made the best of it. And if we win on Sunday, and we qualify for the Champions League, then we made the best of it. That’s it.”
Just when it looked like they had disappeared from the race for Europe, the collapse of a number of rivals in the final weeks of the season saw Liverpool return to the top four ahead of the final game of the campaign.
While they could theoretically still win and not qualify for the Champions League, that would require Leicester City – coached by former Reds boss Brendan Rodgers – to get a four-goal cushion against Tottenham.
In addition, Anfield will host former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson’s last game in charge of Palace, and his team will be determined to give him a good start.