JAMES MILNER flew to Qatar with Liverpool hoping for an upgrade — from European champions to the best club team in the world.
The veteran midfielder is on a mission to help Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders land as many trophies as possible this season.
A bit like the legendary Anfield sides of the 1970s and 80s.
And, of course, like bitter rivals Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Milner, 33, signed a contract extension until 2022 last week, on the same day boss Klopp announced he had agreed a fresh deal that will keep him on Merseyside until 2024.
And their immediate aim is to win the Fifa Club World Cup for the first time here in Qatar, where the World Cup will be held on this day in 2022.
They face Mexicans Monterrey in Doha tonight, with the winner meeting Flamengo in Saturday’s final.
About 1,000 Liverpool fans travelled from the UK to the Middle East, while a further 4,000 have arrived from around the region to support the club.
Milner, whose team qualified for this tournament by beating Spurs in the Champions League final in June, said: “It was important for the club to get that first trophy as we had been unfortunate in a few finals.
“But the team has moved on. We don’t want to be remembered as the team who won one major trophy.
“We want people to remember us as a group and forget which year we won each trophy.
“These are exciting times. Since I have been at the club, we have improved all the time.
“Getting some trophies on the board is important and we have to keep doing that. The club have not won this trophy, so it would be nice to have it. It is special to be here as you have to be successful to be here.
“It will be difficult but you want to get that winning habit, win trophies and keep adding them.”
Liverpool have played three times in a match to decide the World Club champions.
Having rejected previous invitations to play in what was then the Intercontinental Cup — an annual meeting between the European and South American champions — they competed for the first time in 1981, when they faced Brazilian giants Flamengo, who had won their first Copa Libertadores.
Bob Paisley’s side lost that game 3-0 in Tokyo and then, in 1984, Joe Fagan’s Reds were beaten 1-0 by Independiente of Argentina.
Fifa launched the Club World Cup in 2000 and Liverpool featured in 2005 after their Champions League success.
They reached the final but lost, this time 1-0 to Brazil’s Sao Paulo.
The Scousers have a ten-point lead over second-placed Leicester as they target their debut Prem title — and first league crown since 1989-90.
And after fielding a second-string side in last night’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa, the Club World Cup could be seen as a distraction.
But Milner said: “If a chance to win a trophy is a distraction, then this is a pretty good distraction. We just want to keep being successful and keep winning trophies.
“Hopefully, we can go out and win the two games.”
Despite warm temperatures in Doha (79°F) the weather was once again poor yesterday with wind and rain.
Tunisia’s Esperance Sportive de Tunis thumped local side Al Sadd 6-2 in the Khalifa Stadium, before Flamengo beat Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 3-1 in the semi-final.
But Klopp claimed he was not worried about the state of the pitch.
The Kop boss said: “We spoke to our groundsman, who is here. It is in really, really good condition and the training ground is absolutely brilliant.
"When we arrived on Sunday night it was raining hard and I thought it would be difficult on each pitch.
“But our groundsman said it is built on sand so it will suck all the water off. It should not be a concern.”
Liverpool have a few injury issues as Dejan Lovren did not make the trip to Qatar.
Gini Wijnaldum travelled with the squad but will not feature today because of a hamstring problem.
Virgil van Dijk missed training on Monday due to a niggle but starts against Monterrey alongside Joe Gomez in central defence.
And Divock Origi comes in for the rested Sadio Mane.