Jürgen Klopp was unveiled at Anfield as Liverpool’s new manager last October. In the following 13 months since he took over as boss from Brendan Rodgers, he has taken his new team to second in the table, having recently fallen one place from the top.
Losing just one game this so far this season, and with what should be an easier second half of the year to come, there is a real feeling that the German is the man to finally bring this fine old club in from the cold. What’s more, he has done this at a profit, selling on more players than he recruited, the only team in England’s top six to do so.
With 41 major honours to their name, including five European Cups and 18 League titles, Liverpool still bill themselves as England’s most successful club and yet you have to go all the way back to 1990 to find their last title win. In the years between then and now, various managers have come and gone, with Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benitez and Rodgers all coming second once but only really under Benitez did the team begin to truly re-assert itself on the world stage once again. This was cut short, however, when the banking crisis hit their original American owners who had the club reposed from them after defaulting on loan payments.
New American owners came in, in the shape of Boston Red Socks’ owners Fenway Sports Group and, through thrifty investment, bought the club finances back in to shape. What they needed then was a manager with a philosophy that was in agreement with their moneyball agenda. When that guy turned out not to be Brendan Rodgers, Klopp was drafted in having left his hugely successful role with Borussia Dortmund earlier on in 2015.
He saw the first season out, making two cup finals on the way, but seemed to be assessing his new charges before he tackled his first close season head on. Out went many, in came some, as stripped the squad bare, gave youth his chance and concentrated on the Gegenpressen principles that bore him so much fruit in his homeland.
Klopp took on an underperforming squad, that were struggling to win games, lacking belief and very much still mourning the loss of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez who had both departed in the previous two summer windows. These players had never been replaced and, truth is, still haven’t but now it seems not to matter so much. Other players already at the club stepped up where previously they had shrivelled. Critical in making this happen was the love and belief Klopp has inspired in almost all of his players. He kept faith with a battered group that appeared lacking in quality, and, almost overnight, a once confidence-stricken squad was rejuvenated by the bosses’ man-management.
Courtesy of the player cull, he pulled in £21 million from Bournemouth for Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith, £13m for Joe Allen’s move to Stoke, while recouping all of their £32.5 million outlay on Christian Benteke when he left for Crystal Palace. Those that came in included a young new goalkeeper Loris Karius, Marco Grujic, Gini Wijnaldum, Saido Mane and Joel Matip, who arrived on a free transfer. And when the club couldn’t reach a deal for a new left back, he simply reinvented James Milner as an impressively functional one.
Other players to have benefitted from Klopp’s style are England midfield pair Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana, who now look undroppable for club and country when this was certainly not the case twelve months ago. Dejan Lovren, too, is another player who looks entirely different to the one we saw pre-Klopp.
He has become the players friend, albeit a ferocious one, as Mamadou Sakho found out to his cost after he tested his German task master one too many times. The French international now finds himself playing for the reserves or under 23s as they have been re-branded.
Tactically, he doesn’t seem to structure his team in any particular way, giving his players total freedom to wander and try things and the results have been electrifying as the club, for whom top striker Daniel Sturridge barely starts, and yet are the league’s top scorers and have been a joy to watch. This freedom has benefitted, in particular, what has become Liverpool’s front three of Roberto Firmino, Saido Mane and Phillipe Coutinho, in the same way as it once did at Dortmund for the likes of Marco Reus and Mario Goetze.
Of course this positional fluidity would mean nothing without their fitness rates and work ethic also being statistically the highest in the league. By working hard for each other and moving with each other, the club have managed to put together a run that has seen them become one of the favourites for this year’s Premier League.
If there is one Achilles’ heel to the side it is in defence where they do look extremely leaky whenever they’re tested. Both of their goalkeeping options look decidedly weaker than those of any of their rivals, while the defending looks, at best, unorganised.
If you fancy Liverpool, then you will know that there are many online bookmakers where you can place a bet on Liverpool’s matches. They stand a very good chance, especially given that they’re only competing domestically this year. The many online bookmakers have experienced an increase in popularity together with online casinos as they have developed more and more games and guides. With modern-day smartphones, it is easy to follow Liverpool and place a bet on their results.
Crucially, the boss has befriended the media too, winning many admirers from an otherwise critical press. Like Jose Mourinho, he has made himself the focal taking point on many occasions, only here, it is pulled off in a charming, almost funny way, rather than the sneering whines of the Portuguese in Manchester.
In all, the impact that the impressive Jürgen Klopp has had on this club cannot be under estimated as they look to finally break their 26-year duck.