Jürgen Klopp believes Manchester City are the only team in the world good enough to thrash his Liverpool side after the Premier League champions were shown just how hard it will be to defend their title next season.
Although Klopp tried as hard as he could to protect his players after this thrashing, in which City were the better and sharper team from the first to final whistle, he knows this defeat is an early warning to those still basking in the glory of Liverpool’s first title success for 30 years.
“This has nothing to do with [winning the title] last week,” said a prickly Klopp. “It hurts like all defeats hurt. What I wanted to see tonight was a team that was ready to fight… they won the decisive moments…this doesn’t usually happen against us, but they have exceptional quality. They used our mistakes, we didn’t use their mistakes.
“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 different but for tonight that is it. If you see that game tonight, you can see the gap in quality between us and City is not 20 points. I can’t help that. But football is about winning games and we have done that.
“It was reminder how good Manchester City are. I didn’t need that, it’s true, I knew that before. But it was still a surprise that it is possible [for us to be beaten like that]. It is nice that in a league that City play in, that someone else can still be champions with the quality they have.
“We will see [if we can be champions] again, but it’s a while until then, we’ve still got six games left of this season.
“I saw tonight a team who are ready, my team were OK. But if we lose 4-0 you don’t have many arguments. That’s what we have to take now. We have two and a half days to prepare for Aston Villa and that’s what we try to do.”
Liverpool’s players inevitably looked fatigued after last week’s celebrations, despite Klopp’s claims to the contrary, and rarely looked like getting back into the game after Kevin De Bruyne had given their hosts the lead from the penalty spot.
“The game was open, but it clicked more for City than for us.” Klopp added. “But I wanted to see a brilliant attitude and I saw that, the boys were really fighting. Nobody was like ‘hey I am coming here, we don’t care’.
“If City are clicking it is uncomfortable to play them. It is very uncomfortable to play us. We had good moments but it is difficult to mention them because we lost 4-0.”