Jurgen Klopp says he “doesn’t care” about the “increasing pressure” at Liverpool after spending nearly £170m on four new players this summer.
The Reds have signed goalkeeper Alisson and midfielders Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri as they look to close the gap on Manchester City.
Liverpool finished 25 points behind Premier League winners City last term.”We have not bought a team whilst the others have sold theirs, it is not like this,” manager Klopp told BBC Sport.
“We don’t have a free way to go to the championship, it will be really hard.
“They are still there, but we have improved our position for us. What it means for the league we will see.”
‘I am not a dreamer’Liverpool have spent nearly £250m in the last 12 months, including world record fees for £66.8m goalkeeper Alisson from Roma and £75m defender Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January.
This summer, Guinea midfielder Keita has arrived from RB Leipzig for about £50m, Brazil midfielder Fabinho has joined from Monaco in a deal that could be worth more than £40m, and Switzerland winger Shaqiri has come in from Stoke for £13m.
However the club has also raised significant funds, including through the £142m sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January.
Klopp said: “Pressure is only on the outside. That is not important really. What you say about me in three months doesn’t change my life completely.
“It is exactly the same with our owners. We are completely fine. It is not as though the others are asleep.
“You are right, the pressure comes from outside. It is probably increasing. I don’t care about that. I want us to play the best football we can play and make our fans happy. That is it. What other people say, I don’t care.
“I am not a dreamer, I don’t dream that we can be there or there. Other people can do that but we have to build a ground for these dreams.
“We need to play football and that is 80% of the season, if not 90%, the hardest work. The 10% is the day when you go bang, bang, bang and win 5-0. Wow. That is football.”
‘We have to prove we’re not a selling club’Klopp won two Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 and one German Cup during his seven-season spell at Borussia Dortmund, as well as reaching a Champions League final, but also saw key players leave during his reign.
Striker Robert Lewandowski and midfielder Mario Gotze both joined Bayern Munich and Shinji Kagawa went to Manchester United, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan all departed after Klopp left the club in 2015.
Liverpool have also seen many of their star players leave in recent seasons including Coutinho and Luis Suarez to Barcelona, Raheem Sterling to Manchester City and Fernando Torres to Chelsea.
Klopp says Liverpool have to “prove” they are no longer a selling club and faces a “similar” situation to what he had at Dortmund.
“Years ago I was at Dortmund,” he said. “If they had let us play for the next four years with the Dortmund team of 2011 we would have won the Champions League at least once.
“They were 19/20 years old. It was an unbelievable team and we were lucky to bring them all together. We have not exactly the same [at Liverpool] but it is similar.
“In the past for Liverpool it was the same situation. Torres, Suarez, Coutinho, Sterling. They were sold. That is true. The only thing that means for us now is that we are responsible. We cannot blame anybody. We cannot say ‘he is not there any more’.
“You have to use the quality and don’t rely on individuals to make a difference. Football is not like this.
“City wasn’t champions last season because they had the best players in every position. They played outstandingly well and fantastic football. That was the reason.”
‘I can’t promise silverware’Klopp’s side impressed with an all-out attacking style of play last season to reach the Champions League final and finish fourth in the Premier League.
But their last trophy was the 2012 League Cup, while they have not won the league title since 1990.
German Klopp was appointed as manager in October 2015 and reached the Europa League and League Cup final in his first campaign, but were beaten in both finals by Sevilla and Manchester City respectively.
“Can I promise next season any silverware? Of course not,” said Klopp. “How could I? We will fight for it. That is what we promised in all the years and we did it.
“We were always close. If people want to judge our journey so far as a success or not purely on whether you have won something, do it. I have no problem with that. That is how the world is.
“But did people enjoy the journey, saw the final and said ‘that’s football, it can be happy’ then we have been successful.
“Then we are close together with the fans and the team. It feels different. People were really ready to fight together until the final thing.”
‘100% true that Karius had concussion’Last season, a brilliant run in Europe was ended in Kiev by Real Madrid, who claimed their third straight Champions League triumph with a 3-1 victory.
Two mistakes from goalkeeper Loris Karius helped the Spanish side on their way, with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale both profiting by scoring.
The errors were put down to Karius colliding with Real defender Sergio Ramos with the score goalless, and five days later was discovered to have “26 of 30 markers for a concussion” in tests.
The German keeper has made two errors leading to goals in pre-season so far against Tranmere and Dortmund.
Klopp added: “Nobody believes what happened in Kiev but it is 100% true, he had concussion.
“Anyone who has had it knows it is quite difficult to judge situations. You have forgotten things and other people have to tell you how you behaved. That how these things are but the world out there is not interested.
“I really think that Loris is our goalkeeper 100%. From that point of view nothing changed. Is this the most easy period of his life? For sure not. Can it make him stronger? 100% yes.
“He is still a young boy. He has outstanding skills. The big goal is to bring it out on the pitch. That is the way it is for all players. We will try to help him with that.”
‘We have to be angry, aggressive, greedy’
Forward Mohamed Salah was Liverpool’s star performer in the last campaign, netting 44 goals in 52 games in his debut season, including 32 in the Premier League and the Egypt international signed a new five-year deal at Anfield earlier this month.
Liverpool continued their pre-season US tour with a 2-1 win over Manchester City, and face rivals Manchester United on Saturday (22:05 BST).
They play their opening Premier League match at home to West Ham on Sunday, 12 August.
Klopp told LFCTV: “We need to be ready for the big challenges, the big goals, we have to be this angry, aggressive, greedy team full of desire that wants to win each game.
“All the other teams have quality as well so we need to be ready for fights, not celebrating signings and stuff.
“I get it, it is only pre-season and people are happy – cool. To stay happy there is a lot of work ahead.
“We are in the middle of the process and they will not be finished for the first match day, of course not.”