Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola insisted that Liverpool had been fully focused and hadn’t taken their foot off the gas, despite Manchester City’s comfortable 4-0 win over the newly crowned champions at the Etihad on Thursday.
City looked sharper and hungrier for most of the game, taking a 3-0 lead by halftime, while Klopp’s Liverpool were well below their usual levels of intensity.
Liverpool had previously lost only one league game this season, leading some observers to suggest last week’s title win – their first in 30 years – and subsequent celebrations had affected play on Thursday.
But manager Klopp was having none of it.
“If you want to lead this story in the direction that we we’re not focused, then do it,” Klopp said. “I liked my teams’ attitude – I saw a brilliant attitude – I saw boys who were fighting with all they have.
“It has nothing to do with last week, to be honest. It hurts like defeats hurt. What I wanted to see tonight was a team who is ready to fight against Man City, who obviously had a point to prove,” the German said.
“If there is a team in the world that can smash us like this, it is probably City but we will come again. Make a few things better and it could look differently, but for tonight that is it,” he added.
City manager Guardiola said there was no question of Liverpool having suffered any kind of ‘hangover’ from their title win.
“I think they drunk a lot of beer the last week, but they were here with no beer in their blood and to win this game,” the Spaniard said.
“I saw a team with incredible focus, with energy and a desire to win the game, and I saw from the first minute they were focused to play hard,” he added.