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This has been most difficult season, year of my life

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said this season has been the “most difficult” of his life due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Klopp has endured a testing period both on and off pitch throughout the campaign. His mother died in February and he was unable to return to Germany for the funeral while his team failed to successfully their Premier League title and lost out to eventual champions Manchester City.

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“It was the most difficult year of my life and the season was obviously in this year because I never thought I would have to deal with the pandemic — not me personally but all of us,” Klopp told a news conference.

“I’ve found that really difficult to deal with to be honest. What did I learn? Sleep is over-estimated [laughs]. I spoke with Pep [Lijnders] and we were saying coaches and managers who are in a job shouldn’t be asked for renewing, they should get renewed because no day is like the day before.

“It’s always new and always something else. Experience is important but it doesn’t help always and that’s just the job. Does it mean that we are better? I don’t know but are we more experienced? Definitely.

“We’ve made so many experiences we couldn’t have done in other years so yes, there will be a time where I will really appreciate that but it will be in the future, not in the moment.”

Liverpool can still end the season on a high and qualify for next season’s Champions League with a win against Crystal Palace on Sunday at Anfield.

Klopp’s side looked out of contention for a top-four finish last month but have won their last four league games to leapfrog Leicester City into fourth place with one game remaining.

Liverpool have had to find ways to deal with the long-term injuries of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip this season but Klopp is delighted with the way his team has reacted to adversity.

“When we lost our centre-halves — all of them pretty much — we could still win games but not always with the most convincing football,” he said. “At that time, we had to transform midfielders into centre-halves and that broke our spine. The young boys were not ready to play as centre-halves, the midfielders had to play centre-halves and we lost rhythm and pretty much everything but not all the time.”

He added: “A football team is like an orchestra and if you lose one piece, you can still do it but if you lose another piece, it becomes very difficult and especially in this league where everybody performs at such an incredible high intensity level.

“You need time to settle and obviously we found a way out which is absolutely great. Whatever happens on Sunday, we found a way out and brought us to our situation. Weeks ago, it wasn’t clear that we would play Europa League but we’ve achieved that already and it’s not exactly what we wanted but it’s better than nothing. Ask [Manchester] United if they like Europa League and in the moment they would say yes as they play the final and have a chance to win it.

“This year, with the injuries that we’ve had, was a not year where we could become champions. No chance, for nobody. As good as they are, if you take out the three centre-halves of City, no. The three centre-halves of United, no. But fight back, accept the difficulties and make the best of it and if we win on Sunday and qualify for the Champions League then we made the best of it.”

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