It’s been a year, which has toyed with the emotions of Liverpool Football Club’s supporters. 2015 ended in a deluge of optimism following the appointment of Jurgen Klopp, but 2016 is set to end with corroborated buoyancy.
The progress that Klopp has inherited from what was once, a jester of a squad, is reminiscent of the last 12 months.
Let this sink in. This exact moment, in 2015 under Klopp, we were 8th in the league, 11 points behind eventual champions Leicester City. We were 5 points short of 4th place, with the likes of Crystal Palace, Manchester United & Watford higher up the table. To cap it all, we were only a point off the bottom half of the table.
This exact moment, we lie in 2nd place, 6 points behind leaders Chelsea, whilst the likes of Arsenal, Man City, United & our neighbours down Stanley Park look enviously up the table.
Under Brendan Rodgers, supporters swiftly became disillusioned with the Northern Irishman & the dross inevitability.
However, Jurgen Klopp & Liverpool were simply a match made in heaven. Jurgen, in this case, the King Midas of Anfield, appeared to suddenly possess the Golden Touch that was missing for over a year (albeit it with a more positive moral this time)
And, after enduring years of being mocked, taunted & suffering derision from rivals [due our lack of silverware etc], it finally appears that we can create glories & histories in our latest exodus – opposed to dining on past ones.
With that in mind, here are five things any Liverpool supporter will infer from the club & Jurgen this year.
- Instilling confidence & motivation.
Albeit that Jurgen Klopp didn’t bring the change in results immediately, in preceding his arrival, he instilled the confidence in the team that had completely eluded the team of the backend of the Brendan Rodgers era.
Liverpool fans were believing. We saw glimpses of, why, Klopp is one of the best managers around in Europe – especially in European games too. A perfect example of this is against Borussia Dortmund at home in the Europa League quarter-final.
That night showed that Klopp didn’t need to rely on marquee signings or any cah whatsoever to retain trust, confidence or extraordinary success, like Rafa Benitez did in 2005. [Even though that night in ‘05 will never be pipped]
In fact, even Sir Alex Ferguson jumped to the praise for Klopp, comparing him to John Lennon, as well as admitting he had re-discovered LFC’s identity that had been absent for 7 years.
- Improving individual performances.
Under his tutelage, he has galvanised individual performances of Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren; all of which endured difficult debut seasons, but flourished, having been nurtured under Klopp – the German being renowned for his ability to create players, ready for the demands of tougher proposition.
Lallana is an example of a player who flattered to deceive in his debut season, but was more effective in the 4-4-1-1 system that Klopp appeared to settle on at times during the season, and it did pay dividends.
Can, too, has become less rusty on the ball, has composure, maturity & always impresses with his energy levels.
- Tactical vision
Another quality that Klopp has brought shining through to the club is his tactics.. His ‘gegenpressing ‘ philosophy the side has adopted last season & this season has made it easy for Liverpool to control possession & exert pressure on the opposition, on and off the ball.
The style also suits the mix of players we have at the club – we have a mix of versatility in the defensive ranks, with Nathaniel Clyne & Joel Matip.
In the midfield, Georginio Wijnaldum, one of Klopp’s shrewd signings, has also given more balance & options for the Reds. Can is also viewed as another alternative for Wijnaldum, due to his composure on the ball. Then there’s Adam Lallana, who offers so much creativity to the side.
The gegenpress is what makes Liverpool so exciting to watch – every player isn’t flattering to deceive either – an example of this was away at Tottenham, where they used their midfield energy to press Tottenham’s defenders & stifle their width too, meaning that the hosts were not able to control the game.
- Squad depth
The squad finally appears to have some spine, for the first time in at least 7 years.
Going forward, we have Coutinho, Firmino & Mane – whilst Coutinho has been slated for his inconsistency in the past, he was integral to Liverpool’s strong start. Firmino can lack composure & generally be frustrating on a mare of a day – but he’s often Mr. Reliable where assists are concerned.
That leaves us with Mane – Klopp brought him in the summer, and he has proven all the doom-mongers wrong, with some implying the club overpaid, again, for an average winger.
But, Mane has brought another dimension to our attacking play that is sometimes missing – the pace, fluidity & good balls into the box. It doesn’t even end there – we have a rich squad depth where attacking options are concerned, with the likes of Sturridge & Origi.
But, Klopp, as he’s done with the footballing world in his year long tenure in charge, polarised everyone’s opinions prompt. Other honourable mentions go to the signature of Ragnar Klavan, who has looked solid & composed when on the ball, and Gini. Youngsters too have been keen to impress.
Trent Alexander Arnold has put in some excellent shifts in the League Cup, Ben Woodburn created history, have the likes of Sheyi Ojo & Ovie Ejaria – who we saw more of in pre-season, created open play opportunities & their pace is always a problem.
- Klopp’s vision to develop Anfield + charisma
Klopp’s vision – this is an issue that’s cropped up too regularly in the past.
Of course, it’s going to be a problem when you have performing & in-form players, but it’s important you don’t lose the grips of the consensus. Liverpool has never been bought by Russian/Arabian multi-billionaires, but that’s no bombshell.
It is a stipulation for any manager of Liverpool to follow this vision – as any true Scouser would concur, the city is not known for £££, it’s centered on its unique historical character, dating back from the Beatles.
Jurgen wants to reface Anfield into an arena that not only creates deafening atmospheres, but also one that is an attractive place to go to, rather than splashing extortionate sums of cash on a new stadium.
Take Dortmund for example. Dortmund is regarded as the home of one the best traditional atmospheres in the world, never mind German football. He wants to do the same with Anfield, he wants it to become even more acclaimed & atmospheric during matches than it already is.
Compare that with a multibillion like Man City, you see an ominous number of empty seats on European nights. That’s not Anfield – Klopp is straying away from that philosophy, and instead trying to make Anfield the fortress we desire, again.
Long live Jurgen. Long live LFC. Here’s to a title-winning 2017.