Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool manager says he can 'never' enjoy Premier League title race
Are you able to enjoy the title race, Jurgen?
Tough luck for a man who is knee-deep in what could prove to be the tightest Premier League championship battle in several years.
Twenty-nine years have passed since Liverpool last won the league title, 29 years in which they have come close before but fallen at the final hurdle.
Under manager Jurgen Klopp, that run may be coming to an end, with the Reds sitting four points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table with 15 matches left to play.
For Liverpool fans, it's exciting, yet nerve-wracking - and their German boss is under no illusions as to the importance of those matches.
"It's not the biggest stress in the world, but it's so intense and so important and all in a short time," Klopp told BBC sport editor Dan Roan.
"Football is not the most important thing in the world, but at these moments, of course, it feels like that because we have nothing else to do.
"It's not easy to enjoy but I love what I do."
In a wide-ranging interview at Liverpool's Melwood training complex, Klopp spoke about the intensity of the title race, why football can be a power for good in the battle against racism and his thoughts on Brexit.
Klopp on the importance of the title
Klopp succeeded Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool boss in October 2015, and has since led the club to the Champions League and Europa League finals, only for his side to lose on each occasion.
He is yet to win a trophy with the Anfield club but he is looking to change that as Liverpool chase a 19th English top-flight title - and their first since the 1989-90 season.
This is arguably their best chance since then. The Reds have won 19 of their 23 league matches to date with their only defeat coming at Manchester City on 3 January. They are also through to the last 16 of the Champions League where they will face Bayern Munich.
Klopp has an impressive trophy haul as a manager, having won two Bundesliga titles with former club Borussia Dortmund, but in his few years on Merseyside, he has come to realise how important success is to the Liverpool fans.
"I don't meet a lot of people, that's the truth. I am here or at home or at Anfield," he said. "I would be excited if I was a supporter of Liverpool, but of course we have to deliver results to keep them all excited.
"It's really not about me. It's really about the supporters, first and foremost. Because they dream so long, I cannot say that I have dreamed 29 years for another title for Liverpool, to be honest.
"But a lot of people dream of that and that's what we try to deliver."
Klopp on why it is not a two-horse race
Champions Manchester City are Liverpool's main opponents for Premier League glory but, in Klopp's view, Tottenham are still in contention, sitting nine points behind the Reds in the table.
City failed to reduce the gap between themselves and Liverpool on Tuesday with defeat at Newcastle United, giving the Reds the opportunity to open up a seven-point lead when they host Leicester City on Wednesday. Spurs are at home to Watford on the same day.
"It's not only Manchester City. Again, everybody writes off Tottenham and I know a lot of people said about them after the last week with two cup competitions, but I really don't get it," Klopp said.
"City are a similar age group than we are, on the peak of everything, so it will definitely be difficult, but we don't know where we will end at the end of the season. We don't think about it really. We only want to win as many football games as possible."
On Monday, City boss Pep Guardiola said his side would need to "win a lot of games" if they were to usurp Liverpool, but Klopp is expecting the title race to go right to the wire.
"It looks like it will be more exciting than last year, so that is good for football in general and for the Premier League," he said.
"I would guess it will go right to the end of the season, I don't see any possible gaps.
"We have to be flawless as well, everybody has to be."
|Fixtures coming up (Premier League unless stated)|
|30 January||Leicester City (H)|
|3 February||Arsenal (H)|
|4 February||West Ham (A)|
|6 February||Everton (A)|
|9 February||Bournemouth (H)|
|10 February||Chelsea (H)|
|16 February||Boro/Newport (FA Cup)|
|19 February||Bayern Munich (H) (CL)|
|20 February||Schalke 04 (A) (CL)|
|24 February||Manchester United (A)||Chelsea (EFL Cup final)|
|27 February||Watford (H)||West Ham (H)|
Klopp on racism
Football has been blighted by allegations of racist abuse in recent months, with former Liverpool midfielder Raheem Sterling speaking out on social media after suffering alleged abuse during Manchester City's 2-0 defeat at Chelsea in December.
This weekend, some Millwall supporters could be heard using a racist term that is derogatory to the Pakistani community during Saturday's 3-2 FA Cup win over Everton at The Den. The FA and the Metropolitan Police are investigating.
While Klopp believes racism in football is not as big a problem as it was in the past, he says the sport should fight back.
"We all agree that whoever says anything racist, they are silly and they should not have the platform," he said.
"I don't see that there is a massive racism problem, but it's still there.
"It's not sorted, and as long as people are being abused by others, we have to work on it.
"In football, in a team, we don't see religion, we don't see different colours. We only see the human being."
Klopp on Brexit
Klopp has previously spoken out about the UK leaving the European Union, arguing in April 2018 that there should be another vote because "nobody has any idea how it will work".
With Brexit scheduled for 29 March, he said it will have a "massive impact on the young people and the cities".
Klopp added: "With Brexit, it looks as though no-one is an expert. Everybody is talking about it but nobody has a solution.
"History taught us that if you are alone, you are weaker than the unit.
"I'm 51 years old so I have never experienced a war. We are really blessed in our generation, but the past showed us that as long as strong partners are together, Europe is a much safer place.
"We live in wonderful circumstances; yes, we have problems, but we sort them.
"I don't like that it is starting to split again.
"I still hope that someone will use common sense at the end."