Football Insights - Neil Mellor
Chelsea’s victory over Manchester City last week saw Liverpool being crowned Premier League champions for the first time in 30-years and with still seven games to go for Jurgen Klopp’s team there are still records to be broken. Neil Mellor took time out to chat exclusively to GentingBet about their league title and the possibility of breaking the 100-point mark.
How much will winning the Premier League mean to Liverpool?
Winning the Premier League title is huge for Liverpool. It’s a joyous moment and it’s well deserved, Liverpool have had a brilliant season, to come so close last season with 97 points wasn't too bad, but this season, they've set about the task and they've been absolutely brilliant.
I think a big reason for that has been the mentality that the manager and the players have. I also think that Liverpool winning the Champions League in the summer gave everybody belief and confidence that they can achieve things. In the past it did they won the Champions League finals but ‘lost’ the Premier League, just by a point last year whereas this year, because they won that Champions League, I think the belief has been there that they can go on and achieve that, it's been fantastic.
What did you make of the scenes outside Anfield last week?
It was an outpouring of passion from supporters who have waited a long time - many probably weren’t born the last time Liverpool won the title, it’s been that long! It was brilliant to see the outpouring of emotion and celebration from Liverpool.
Can Liverpool win all 21 points left in the season for them?
To win all 21 points of the remainder of the season is a big ask as Liverpool have succeeded in what they set out to you, but the motivation will be to win at least 5 of the next 7 games to beat Manchester City’s 100-point record. The points they have now is phenomenal, only losing one game to Watford and drawing two games and winning the rest. The way Liverpool have performed this season I’d say they can get 21 points out, but it won’t be easy.
How big an achievement would it be for Liverpool to break City's 100 point record?
Manchester City’s record is incredible, it’s the greatest we’ve seen in the Premier League and we know how competitive the Premier League is but if Liverpool were to beat that, it would recognise the fact that the success of Liverpool, even with the pause in games. The break shows that the players can go again and that is a great credit to them that they could beat that Manchester City record.
Do you think this will provide ongoing motivation for Klopp and the squad even after the title is won?
The big test for Liverpool is achieving 100 points and remaining motivated – but one of Liverpool's main strengths is the mentality that they have within the group. So they have to rely on that new target, which is to be the Premier League team with the greatest ever points. To get 100 points is just unbelievable, so if Liverpool can do that, that is the incentive from now to the end of the season and it is possible. That will be the mentality – to enjoy this moment, and then prepare for the next games.
Is Klopp on track to become one of Liverpool's greatest managers?
Klopp is adored by Liverpool supporters and rightly so. When he took over at Liverpool the club was nowhere near competing for the Top Six, the season he arrived Liverpool finished 8th. Within a previous press conference he said ‘we will win a title’ and Liverpool fans wanted to believe him but found it difficult, because of where Liverpool actually were.
Klopp has turned any doubters into believers, and he has been phenomenal in what he has given Liverpool Football Club. Klopp has brought a togetherness and a connection to the club, which is really unique. Every supporter feels like they’re connected to the football club and you can see the players do too, with how they were together and celebrating the title win, and even game to game.
Is there a danger that Klopp starts to think he's achieved everything he came to Liverpool to do? How do you think he'd react to an approach from Barcelona or Real Madrid?
Liverpool have now put themselves into a position as one of the biggest clubs in the world, and Klopp will want more success at Anfield. I know we’ve seen both Suarez and Coutinho leave Liverpool for Barcelona, but I think Klopp would leave on his own terms, when he is ready. Hopefully he can go again next season to take the team to win the Premier League title again.
After winning the Premier League, what's the next goal for Liverpool?
The next aim for Liverpool will be to go again and win back to back Premier League titles. We’ve seen before that it’s very difficult to achieve such a feat again, but it will be next incentive for this Liverpool team.
Do Liverpool need to bring in any more players?
Liverpool will always be linked to players, it’s just the nature of the football club being one of the biggest in the world. The current group of players are really special and talented and any player who the manager feels as though he wants to bring in, has to have the talent but they also have to have that mentality and personality to come into the group.
There's been signings in the past that Klopp has made, and people doubted but they have taken Liverpool to the next level. So we may not see a big name arrive at Liverpool but I do think Liverpool will go to the market when they need and they will look to get the right personality and player to add strength to the squad.
When the time comes, who could you see replacing Jurgen Klopp?
The beauty of Liverpool is that no one is even considering anyone else other than Jurgen Klopp as manager.
He’s working to take Liverpool to that next level where they want to be Liverpool and the club are as happy as they have been for 30 years, with this manager in place taking the football club exactly where the fans want him to be.
There is no talk whatsoever that they want to see anybody else coming in and taking over the football club. Klopp seems to be Liverpool down to the ground, with his mentality and his approach. It's times like this, that the supporters can really enjoy having somebody like your club in charge who connects to the people of the city.
If you had to name one Liverpool player as player of the season, who would it be?
Virgil Van Dijk is my player of the season. Henderson has been unbelievable as a captain, as a leader on and off the pitch. I think the front three have been awesome and Salah as the top goal scorer, but I think the player for me, and others may disagree with me on this one, is Virgil Van Dijk.
Van Dijk gives Liverpool something that they haven't had for a long time. Historically, Liverpool have been vulnerable defensively, but I think there's been results this season that Liverpool would have dropped points, but for Virgil Van Dijk.
He has been unbelievable defensively, giving confidence to the rest of the team and he gives confidence to the supporters. He can also add a bit of fear factor to the opposition. So I think for me, whilst Henderson and the whole team have been amazing, I would go for Virgil Van Dijk is my player of the season.