'We are still Rocky Balboa, not Ivan Drago' - Klopp calms talk of Liverpool's title challenge

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The Reds boss is ready for the new Premier League season but still rates his team as underdogs compared to champions Manchester City

Jurgen Klopp's focus is on ensuring his talented Liverpool squad deliver on their potential after extensive spending in the transfer market, rather than worrying about closing the gap to Manchester City.

Liverpool's close-season outlay was greater than any of their Premier League rivals, adding Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri to a team that reached the Champions League final last term.

Setting aside talk of his expectations and the strength of the group, Klopp acknowledged only results will matter when the season starts against West Ham on Sunday.

"My own expectations are always pretty high, to make the best of it, get everything out of it," Klopp told a pre-match news conference. "These are my expectations all the time,

“We have to be more consistent, we know that. We have to be more clinical in the right moments, more aggressive in the right moments. We can improve everything: we can improve our offensive game, we can improve our defensive game."

The German boss then expressed his belief that his team should still be considered underdogs in any tussle for the league title, referencing the popular film franchise Rocky as an example of where Liverpool currently sit in the pecking order at the top of the table.

When asked how Liverpool can close the gap on champions Manchester City, he replied: “We have to be more consistent, we know that. We have to be more clinical in the right moments, more aggressive in the right moments. We can improve everything: we can improve our offensive game, we can improve our defensive game.

“You all ask me about the gap to City and what we have to do, it has nothing to do with City. City took three points from us, we took three points from them but we lost them in other games. Win all of them and it is good but it is pretty difficult to do because not only the other Big Six you see how Wolverhampton acts, how Fulham acts and how Everton acts – they are all ambitious. We can't go there and because we are Liverpool we win the game.

“It is not only really difficult for us, it is difficult for the other teams as well. I don't think too much about what we have to do; I thought about it pre-season but now we have to be in this championship mood. It is like you jump in the water and dive and then let's go for it until you don't have enough air anymore or oxygen and you have to go up again. That is the plan, that we really go for it.

“I know a lot of people think that because we were that active in the transfer window but that is part of the business, it doesn't decide anything. We want to be, it has been clear for ages, champion of England and winning the league but how can we say that? What about United, what about the other clubs.

“The champions are Manchester City and they did not lose any player and brought in Mahrez, so it doesn't make them weaker. They are top quality. We are still Rocky Balboa, not Ivan Drago. We are the ones who have to do more, fight more, and that must be our attitude.

“In the moment someone thinks we reached already a point then come on boys, that is when you start disappointing yourself and the people around you. Why should we do that? We didn't reach anything so far. We went to finals. Should we go to a final again we should try to win it this time? In the league it is exactly the same: we came into the Champions League (places) but there are still two places at three and two which would be better than four. Then we can talk but at the moment it is nothing.

“It is like scientists without trying to see if it really works. We have to be like Rocky!”

Fabinho, Liverpool

With players still recovering after the World Cup, Klopp will not yet be able to call on a full-strength squad - Dejan Lovren will be absent and Fabinho is a doubt due to illness - but he is confident Liverpool are ready for the match at Anfield against West Ham.

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"We will see. They're all in a different shape," he said. "Trent [Alexander-Arnold] has been a bit longer, Hendo's [Jordan Henderson] in and full of power but only three or four days, Dejan will not be available.

"[Fabinho's] scan was clear, he felt ill when he came back, so we sent him home again. We will see.

"That's how it is. We have little things we have to think about, if it's a risk or not, if we take the risk or not. At the end, I believe we will have a fantastic football team on the pitch. I have to make a few decisions."

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