Belfast Telegraph

Klopp urging Liverpool to forget past and build a new golden legacy

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has called on his players to create new history rather than be burdened by tales of their trophy-laden past.

The Reds went to the top of the table for the first time since May 2014 with Sunday's win over Watford and as the Premier League's leading goalscorers, having lost just once in 11 matches, are viewed as genuine title contenders.

It has been more than 26 years since Liverpool won the last of their 18 league championships and having come so close under Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers three seasons ago, eventually being pipped by Manchester City, expectations are growing about a return to the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s.

But Klopp insists previous success should have no bearing on what his current side are doing now - even if comparisons are already being made with the 1990 side which featured some Liverpool greats like Alan Hansen, Ian Rush and John Barnes.

"It's a really good moment and I know that everybody compares with the past, especially at Liverpool," he said. "Three years ago, 10, five, 25 years ago - but this team is new, we are new.

"Our story started a few months ago so you cannot compare us with anyone else. You cannot carry the history on our backs, we should feel free to create something in the near future."

The Reds have already started looking to the future by handing new contracts to three of their most promising youngsters.

Kevin Stewart and Trent Alexander-Arnold have agreed deals until 2021 with reserve team striker Ben Woodburn's new contract taking him up to 2019.

Stewart, aged 23, has already made 17 appearances for the first team while Alexander-Arnold, 18, made his debut in last month's EFL Cup victory over Tottenham.

Woodburn, 17, featured in a couple of pre-season friendlies and has continued to impress for the Under-23s.

"This is really positive news, and it's brilliant we have acted decisively to show our intent with our young players," Klopp said.

"All three are big talents and are at different stages of their development, but they must continue to learn and improve to achieve their full potential."

Klopp thinks it will provide encouragement to other academy youngsters with ambitions to break into the first team now they can see there is a route for them.

The German has invited many of the academy players to train with the first team, particularly during international breaks when he is low on numbers, and that is helping to ease the transition.

"The most important thing is the pathway to the first team," he added. "I think we have shown that with the work Alex (Inglethorpe, academy director) and his staff do we offer a clear pathway to first-team football if the players embrace what is on offer for them.

"I cannot praise them (the academy) enough for the culture and environment they have there. It is perfect."

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