Soccer-Liverpool's Klopp enjoying top-four chase as battle intensifies

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Liverpool - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 13, 2021 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and Andrew Robertson celebrate after the match Pool via REUTERS/Dave Thompson

(Reuters) - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said he has enjoyed chasing teams throughout his career as the battle to qualify for next season's Champions League goes down to the final three games of the season.

Liverpool moved within four points of fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand after Thursday's 4-2 Premier League victory over Manchester United.

The Merseyside club were already crowned champions at this stage last season but Klopp said he still enjoys playing catch-up to the sides ahead of him in the closing stages of the campaign.

"Most of the time I've been in a chasing role so I'm enjoying it," Klopp told a news conference. "It hasn't happened a lot to me that the teams I've coached were running away or whatever, so it's a normal situation.

"Last night was very much needed, but it gave us a good feeling as well. After a long season, playing Thursday, Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday is a tough one, but let's give it a try."

If Liverpool win at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday they will close to within one and three points respectively of FA Cup finalists Chelsea and Leicester City, who still have to play each other in the league at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Klopp knows if Liverpool win all their games - and overhaul Leicester's goal difference advantage of one - they will secure a top-four finish and a place in Europe's elite competition next season.

"These three games can have an extremely positive outcome," Klopp added. "But we don't now make the second step before the first."

Klopp once again played down Sadio Mane's handshake snub after the game at Old Trafford, where the forward was dropped to the substitutes' bench.

The German coach said his relationship with Mane has been built on mutual respect and one incident will not have any impact on that.

"If somebody shows me respect five million times, and one time not, what is more important?" Klopp added.

"The world is in a situation where you then make this one time bigger than necessary. That's unfortunately the case."

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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