Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he has no timetable to make the club league champions again but is confident if they maintain their current progress, they are right on track.
Tonight’s visit of Chelsea, the deposed Premier League title holders, pits two sides who would have expected to be challenging for the top this year but are instead in eighth and ninth respectively.
The German promised when he arrived in mid-October that he would win titles at Anfield but has set himself no time limits on that and his only requirement is the team keeps on improving.
“I’m not too interested in when Chelsea can next win the title and I have no idea when we can but I promise we will try everything to build on the base of this season,” said Klopp, who is preparing for his 50th match in charge.
“We can get sixth position, it isn’t the biggest success in the history of Liverpool, but everyone interested in Liverpool can see the good signs and we will build on it.
“We have to improve and I am sure we will. A lot of things need to be perfect for a really good season.
“I’m really looking forward to next season, to pre-season, but this season we are still looking for what we can get.”
Klopp has one eye already on next season and plans are well under way for that but he brushed aside suggestions he would be having a clear-out in the summer to prepare for it.
And he dismissed the latest speculation linking Christian Benteke with a £25 million (€31m) move to West Ham.
“I read transfer rumours in October. We work the whole day and of course we work on the squad for next year,” he added.
“Of course we think about transfers, we think about everything, but a lot of rumours are really far away from the actual thing.
“It is really funny when you are involved. Sometimes I’ve never heard of the player who has been linked with Liverpool.”
Klopp stressed performances in the match against Chelsea would have no bearing on his thinking about who should stay or remain but he is likely to bring back the majority of players who featured last week in the Europa League semi-final win over Villarreal and were rested at the weekend.
It is then a balancing act for their final league match at West Brom on Sunday before the Europa League final against Sevilla next Wednesday.
“We had a few changes in the last game and most of the players who play tomorrow will be in good physical shape after a normal week Thursday to Wednesday,” he said.
“I’ve learned to rotate; I’m not the world champion at this but I’m not too bad, and we will be ready 100% for the final.”
Klopp has been boosted by captain Jordan Henderson’s return to outdoor training after a knee ligament injury last month.
Meanwhile Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink has denied the expected departure of club captain John Terry has been treated badly.
Terry begins a two-match suspension tonight but Chelsea’s hierarchy are still to declare whether the defender will stay or go after 703 appearances since his debut in October 1998.
Terry is out of contract at the end of this season and in January said he would not be extending his stay.
Chelsea insisted an offer may be forthcoming, but there has been no news on his future yet.
“There’s time,” Hiddink said.
“People who are making the decisions want to take their time. That’s up to them.
“That doesn’t mean there’s dramatic, bad treatment so far, but everyone has his own approach to deal with this matter.”
Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were among the distinguished players who departed Stamford Bridge without a goodbye.
And some supporters are planning to protest at the likely departure of ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ Terry at the club’s final two games of a very disappointing season.
“Whatever will happen, whether he stays, whether he goes — in the last option, he deserves a huge goodbye,” Hiddink added.
“(But) it’s never goodbye with those players, because I think in the near future, whatever happens, those players, after a period of going away and calming down, they can have a big impact in clubs.”
Striker Diego Costa is out with a hamstring injury — “Costa is out probably for the weekend,” Hiddink said — and defender Branislav Ivanovic has a groin problem.
Winger Pedro suffered a broken nose in a domestic fall and could play with a protective mask at Anfield.
Hiddink could look at Chelsea’s future by including youth team striker Tammy Abraham and defender Fikayo Tomori in the matchday squad.
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