Jurgen Klopp has revealed Roberto Firmino threw himself into his arms to thank the Liverpool boss for sticking by him.
Firmino is in red-hot form for Klopp’s unbeaten Premier League leaders after scoring four goals in his last three games.
The Brazilian forward followed up his two goals in Qatar that saw Liverpool crowned Club World Cup champions with a double at Leicester on Boxing Day to send the Reds 13 points clear at the Premier League summit.
Firmino ran into Klopp’s arms on the touchline at the King Power Stadium to celebrate after making it 3-0 with his second of the game, and the pair embraced again after the final whistle. But while it’s all smiles for Firmino right now, Klopp admits he wasn’t always so confident during a drought that yielded just one goal in 16 games.
And that’s despite the encouraging words of his manager who has always insisted he is the player who pulls the strings for Liverpool.
“He doesn’t have to come and do that after every goal but this time he thought I was calm enough to leave him on the pitch and he thought he had to say thank you,” said Klopp.
“Bobby has four goals in three games. Before that spell he hadn’t scored much but I hadn’t realised.
“When I think about Bobby, I don’t think about scoring. I think about how important he is.
“But we had a bit of a talk because for the first time since I’d known him he looked a little bit concerned. I told him I am not interested in a goals tally because he is the connector for our team. He’s so important for us. He is not the only one who can play that position but he can play that position in a very special way.”
Liverpool’s emphatic 4-0 win at Leicester, their nearest title challengers on Boxing Day, made it 35 league games without defeat stretching back to this time last year.
They have collected an incredible 79 points from the last 81 available.
But as they close in on a first league crown in 30 years, Klopp insists no one at Anfield is getting complacent.
“I am blessed I have a very smart team,” he said ahead of Sunday’s visit of Wolves . “It is not like I have to tell them to stay focused because they are.
“We have so many good characters in the team.”
Wolves’ visit is the first of three successive home games, with Sheffield United next on Thursday before Liverpool host neighbours Everton in the FA Cup third round.
Klopp said: “We need massive help from the crowd because this period is so intense.”
Liverpool are on fire after adding the Club World Cup to a trophy haul that includes the Champions League and Super Cup.
They are in such unstoppable form that Arsenal legend Thierry Henry reckons that the league leaders could emulate the Gunners’ title-winning Invincibles side that avoided defeat for the entire 2003-04 season.
In total Arsene Wenger’s side went a record 49 consecutive top-flight league games unbeaten from May 2003 to October 2004.
But Klopp is not getting carried away just yet.
He said: “I have been in this business a while and if you ask me if that is possible I am not sure. I am an optimistic person but not before a football game.
“I know we can win it but I never thought we probably will win it, which makes life really uncomfortable.”