It was a subtle, and almost obligatory nod to a glorious, trophy-laden history – but Jurgen Klopp struck the right chord when he admitted Liverpool could no longer live off past glories.
The German’s impressive first news conference as Liverpool manager contained dozens of talking points, and the former Borussia Dortmund coach was in fine fettle as he gushed about finally managing the five-time European champions.
They are the usual platitudes that accompany an incoming manager of a football club that has won the league 18 times, but while Klopp was keen to acknowledge the abundance of success that Liverpool have enjoyed over the years, the ex-BVB coach made it clear that he is in no mood to be suffocated by it.
Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Kenny Dalglish, and more recently, Rafa Benitez are just some of the ghosts of glory that hang heavy over Anfield, but the enthusiastic Klopp won’t be constrained by history.
He made the right noises when speaking of his desire to use the past as a light springboard to what could just be a brilliant future for the red half of Merseyside.
“History is the base for us,” said Klopp in his first press conference as Liverpool manager, covered by the Echo. “It’s not allowed to take the history in the backpack. You have to come in our race. I want to see the first step next week but not always compare with other times.
“I don’t compare myself with these geniuses within the history of Liverpool. It’s cool that you are looking forward to the work for the next few months and years. None of these managers said they wanted to be a legend when they arrived. This is a great club because of many good decisions in the past.”
Liverpool, more than most others, proudly boast about their history, and decades of success have afforded them a status as one of the game’s superpowers, but the cold reality is that this is a club that haven’t won a trophy since Dalglish’s men edged out Championship side Cardiff City on penalties in the final of 2012 League Cup.
For too long, the fans have been starved of success, and despite the second-placed finish of 2014, where they came within a whisker of ending their 24-year wait for a league title, Liverpool are not currently good enough to win English football’s biggest crown.
Fan base and history will ensure that Liverpool remain a Premier League giant for some time, but while he was not discarding the past completely, Klopp was right to focus Anfield minds on the future.
He knows there is work to be done.