Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits it will be “almost impossible” to finish in the top four this season.
Despite Monday’s win over Wolves – only their fourth in the league since Christmas – moving to them within five points of Chelsea in the final Champions League qualification spot Klopp believes they still have an uphill battle.
“I like to be an optimist, but in the league it is almost impossible to qualify in the competition for the Champions League places that we have,” Klopp, whose side are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, told German newspaper Bild.
“At Tottenham, Gareth Bale is now playing again, and they are also in the running. Plus (Manchester) City and United, who are far away.
“Chelsea is on the rise. Reaching Champions League qualification through the league will be difficult, we know that.
“You don’t usually win the Champions League itself in a year with injury worries as big as we have.
“Then in the worst case it will be next year: no Champions League, maybe Europa League, although that is not guaranteed either.”
Not returning to Europe’s elite club competition next season would mean a huge reduction in revenue, coming off the back of a year severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Klopp acknowledges this but does not fear for his job should they not make it – in fact were they not to qualify for Europe at all, which is still a possibility, he believes it would make his side stronger for another tilt at the title they won last summer.
“It would mean a huge financial loss,” he said regarding a lack of Champions League football. Otherwise not that much,” he added.
“I am aware, in almost all football clubs in the world, I would be questioned in a situation like our current one.
“This is completely normal, reality, the business. I would accept that immediately.
“But it’s different here in Liverpool. Our owners, the sports director, even the players, nobody doubts anyone here. We have accepted the situation for ourselves and fight our way through it.
“Even if there has never been anything like it after a championship then we’ll be the first to fight our way, as a large, successful club.
“If we don’t play internationally (in Europe) at all, that means more time to relax. That would be bad for all other teams because training is good for us.
“If we had more time, we could take advantage of it. We would try to turn the bad situation into something good.”