Jürgen Klopp looks back on 2017 as a year of undoubted progression for Liverpool but with a sharp hunger to achieve more for the club in the 12 months to come.
The Reds secured a return to Champions League football with a fourth-place finish in the Premier League last season and subsequent play-off victory over Hoffenheim.
So far this term, Klopp’s men have eased into the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition – where they will face FC Porto – and remain in the top four domestically at the halfway point.
As Liverpool kick off the second half of the campaign by hosting Swansea City at Anfield, the manager has taken a moment to assess his team’s development during the calendar year.
“It is maybe more important than ever that as a club – that is team and supporters – we recognise the importance of our continued development,” writes Klopp in matchday programme ‘This is Anfield’.
“No-one here ever concedes a fight until the final bell of the final round sounds, but realistically Manchester City are in a good moment. If we were lesser people than we are collectively, we could maybe use that as an excuse to not perform to our maximum. It is vital that we all – every single one of us who cares about this club – banishes any attitude of that nature to the sidelines.
“We are about progression and development and our ambition is below no-one. We have trophies to fight for and goals to achieve this season. This team and this group of players is about so much more than just entertaining. Yes, we work every day because we love football and we all believe in playing the game in an adventurous, positive way. But that is just a part of what we are about.
“Our identity – as individuals, as a team, a squad and as a club – is about winning.
“So, with the year coming to a close in the next few days it is appropriate we look back briefly on what has been a very fulfilling 12 months together, but more so look ahead to what is still to be achieved together.
“We must take the information and learning from the last year and use it to our advantage for what is to come. I have confidence with the amazing players and staff we have, allied with the support we get each and every matchday, that the next year will be even better.”
Pick up your copy of ‘This is Anfield’ at the stadium today, or subscribe online here.
Liverpool have scored some excellent goals on Boxing Day in the Premier League era and you can relive 10 of the best with our free video.
The Reds welcome Swansea City to Anfield this evening with a view to giving fans a belated Christmas present by claiming all three points.
Before the game gets under way, registered users should check out our list of the club’s finest efforts on December 26 in recent history – featuring the likes of Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia and Fernando Torres – in the clip above.
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Jordan Henderson has used his Boxing Day programme notes to pay a special tribute to the 'team behind the team' at Liverpool.
At such a hectic stage of the Premier League season, the Reds captain – who has been ruled out of the Anfield clash with Swansea City – turns the spotlight on the vital work carried out by staff around the club to provide the players with a platform to perform.
“For those of us at Liverpool, this time of year does make us think more of what is often referenced as the ‘team behind the team’: the staff at Melwood,” writes Henderson in ‘This is Anfield’.
“Melwood, our training ground, has a life of its own. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to work there, but from the moment we drive in through the gates the players are surrounded by brilliant people and professionals who are there to help us be the best we can on the pitch.
“Probably because they’re the most visible, the coaching staff and medical team are often in the public eye: they’re seen in pictures either on the training ground or on matchday. But ask any of the players in our dressing room and they’ll tell you that they are just one part of a very important group of people we see on a daily basis.
“From the staff on the security gate to the kit and laundry guys, the reception and admin staff, the ground staff, the cleaners and the canteen team, they are all very much unsung heroes. These are the people who make Melwood what it is and help us each and every day.
“I noticed recently there was an article on the official club website about Carol and Caroline, who are the heart and soul of the canteen at Melwood. They’re part of the furniture there and would do anything for anyone.
“I loved reading that article, not because it gave Carol and Caroline publicity but because it highlighted that a football club is about far more than just people like us, the players and coaches, who get all the limelight and credit when things are going well.
“Carol and Caroline represent the sort of humour and spirit that gives Melwood warmth and personality as a place to go into work. Right through the building and outside working on the pitches and across the facility, we are blessed with brilliant individuals.
“The reason it hits home at this time of year is because these guys make similar sacrifices to us as players but without the same benefits we are lucky to have. When we’re in, they’re in – simple as that. They work all through Christmas and New Year and never once do you hear any complaining. They all are so proud to work for Liverpool and the club is very lucky to have them.
“Aside from Melwood, there will be staff who will have worked right through Christmas at Anfield as well, so that the game [on Boxing Day] can go ahead as normal. Again, these guys work incredibly hard during a time of year when the majority of people can wind down.
“I suppose it’s to be expected that the team will always hog the limelight and attention, but on behalf of all the players I wanted to use these Boxing Day notes to say how much we appreciate the work done by huge numbers of staff from across the club that make it such a special place.
“To the ones we see at Melwood we can say thanks and Merry Christmas personally. To the army of Anfield workers, the team is just as appreciative of your crucial role as well.”
Pick up your copy of ‘This is Anfield’ at the stadium, or subscribe online here.
Jürgen Klopp has shared a special message for Liverpool supporters around the world on Christmas Day...
I would like to wish all of our supporters, however they choose to mark this time of year, a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
I know our fans, be they from Liverpool the city itself, across the UK or from anywhere around the world, have a diverse set of beliefs and customs – and some who choose to follow none. This is the case within our team, for example – a wonderful and diverse coming together of cultures and backgrounds.
But regardless of faith or religion, at this time of year in the UK and many parts of the globe people come together with friends and family to enjoy spending time with each other. I absolutely love this.
This is my third Christmas as manager of Liverpool Football Club and I feel more energised and excited than I ever have done about the times we have ahead of us.
Of course, we would like more wins, more points and to be on track to win everything we compete for. I know this is important for our supporters. But I think in football, as in life, you can make a choice to be joyful and enjoy great moments and great times together. We have had these moments and we have had them in the last few years. These moments have been more special for those of us blessed to work for the club because we have shared them with our supporters.
It is important never to make specific promises that you can’t guarantee 100 per cent you can deliver on – but that doesn’t mean we should ever try to hide our ambitions in the shade or stop ourselves lifting our heads high and love being part of LFC. I say again – when I look at where we are as a team and a club and the progress we make, and the strides forward we take, I am filled with positivity and hope for 2018 and the years beyond.
There are crazy things happening in the world at the moment and football is not immune to it. For our supporters, wherever in the world, who are experiencing tough times, I hope that Christmas brings some respite from the day-to-day struggles of life.
Very close to us, Anfield and Melwood, we have two causes that demonstrate perfectly why those of us who are blessed with health and opportunity should always be thankful for it and not ignore our friends and neighbours.
At Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, there’ll be brave kids and parents today who are fighting some of the most important battles you could ever imagine – and doing it with courage and spirit. They’re courageously battling with the help and support of the world-class staff, be it doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, security or admin staff. Their dedication and compassion makes Alder Hey the amazing place Liverpool is so unbelievably proud of.
Locally – at Anfield and across the city – the various foodbank projects have supported families and individuals who are in need of a helping hand, not because of any fault of their own, but the circumstances they find themselves in, completely beyond their control. For this to be the case in a country that has wealth and resources like this one, is simply beyond belief. The extent the volunteers from organisations like Fans Supporting Foodbanks go to, to help and support others in their local community, is very humbling.
There’ll be hundreds and hundreds of other volunteers across Merseyside giving up their Christmas Day to help and support others – and also others working their regular jobs for the care and safety of others. To these special people we say a very loud Merry Christmas.
On behalf of the team, we look forward to seeing a good number of you at Anfield on Boxing Day and I know many more will be watching, listening and following the match through other means. We always appreciate your support and recognise that in doing so you invest a great deal in us. We will never take this for granted.
Have a great day, however you choose to spend it.
You’ll Never Walk Alone