Interviews

John Barnes interview: "It's too early for Liverpool to target the double"

Despite a 13-point advantage in the Premier League, the Reds legend says the time isn't right to go all out for the FA Cup

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Liverpool have 18 league titles to their name, but only once in their history have they done the double - and John Barnes insists now’s not the moment to start dreaming of doing it again.

Despite winning six European Cups and dominating English football during the '70s and '80s, surprisingly their only league and FA Cup double came in 1985/86.

Preston and Aston Villa are among the fellow one-time double winners - Arsenal and Manchester United have achieved the feat three times, while Manchester City did it for the first time last season, adding the Carabao Cup for good measure.

Barnes twice had the double snatched away from him during his successful career as a Liverpool player. First came a shock defeat to Wimbledon in the 1988 FA Cup final, then followed the dramatic injury-time loss of the league title to Arsenal in 1989.

This season, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds lead the Premier League by 13 points going into Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie at home to Everton.

It's the sort of buffer that in theory could allow the German to put extra priority on the competition this season, having often made a number of changes to his line-up for cup games in previous years.

But Klopp is again expected to make changes for the clash with Everton, and Barnes thinks it’s far too early to start turning any focus from the league to the FA Cup.

“You can talk about a buffer in the league, that you can rest players in the league because you’re so far ahead - but then you end up losing league matches, and you can end up losing the league,” Barnes tells FourFourTwo.

“Jurgen won’t do that. Liverpool should just try to win football matches. You can’t talk about winning the double - that happens at the end of the season.

"If you’re thinking about winning the double, you forget to win the next game, and the next game, and the next game. Jurgen Klopp doesn’t look at trophies, he looks at games, and the best way to win a trophy is to win the next game.

“You can’t go for the double because in the cup, you don’t know who you’re going to play, and you can also play really well and lose. You can play your strongest team, hit the post 20 times, the opposition can have one chance and win 1-0.

"You can lose the odd game in the league, but to win it, you have to be the best team. The league is where you show consistency, and it’s always the most important thing.”

Liverpool could hand a debut to new signing Takumi Minamino against Everton, after his £7.25m move from Red Bull Salzburg.

The Japanese international could make his Reds bow exactly two years to the day since Virgil van Dijk scored the winner on his Liverpool debut, against the same opposition in the FA Cup third round.

“Everybody knew Virgil van Dijk, because he was joining Liverpool as an established player for £75m,” Barnes says.

“It’s a bit different with Minamino because not many people know about him, so maybe he’ll start, maybe he’ll be on the bench. We’re looking forward to seeing him.

“All of the players that Jurgen Klopp has signed are a reflection of him. He knows the type of players he wants, in terms of the way the team plays.

"So while a lot of people won’t have heard of Minamino before, and he’s not a signing like Mbappe, Messi or Ronaldo, Liverpool fans trust Klopp and know he signs players who fit the profile he wants - hard work and speed. When Jurgen Klopp signs a player, that player 100 per cent fits into what Klopp wants.”

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