Following another of those performances away at Leicester, you know, the one where we boss possession but create very few clear cut chances on goal, there has been a lot written about the current state of play.
The current squad has been scrutinised and pulled apart and for the first time since he arrived, I have witnessed little doubts surfacing in regards to the manager. The picture was pretty grim post Leicester and Sunderland for many fans. ninth in the league, ten points adrift of fourth place, and just three wins from the last eleven league games. Talk of nicking a Champions League spot had all but died and the league as a competition offering reward, over for another year.
But, let’s look at silver linings.
If we take three key points into account then the remainder of this season can yet prove huge for Klopp’s Liverpool.
- We’re still challenging in three cup competitions. We’re in the bloody final of one of them! If we accept that the league will offer little but mid-table up to perhaps fifth at a real push, then we can put all our efforts into bringing cups to Anfield. It’s what Liverpool Football Club exist to do, and the fact that we’re still alive and kicking on three fronts should be fully embraced by us fans, the players and the coaching staff. For Klopp to deliver one trophy in his first part-season using a hugely criticised squad assembled by the former manager, would be a truly special moment and only serve to further galvanise the blossoming relationship between manager and fans.
- Within the young up and coming players at the club are some genuinely exciting prospects for the future, and from what we’ve seen already this season, for today. A hard fought draw played on a heavy Exeter City pitch against players who were fired up and ready for a scrap showed the mental strength of these lads; the replay gave hint of what they might be capable of, and the game against a strong West Ham team, despite ending level, drove home just how healthy the depth at the club actually is. Some real performers shone bright. Brannagan showed incisive, intelligent play and a beautiful set-piece delivery, Ojo displayed flair and pace in abundance and Smith got fans talking about him coming straight in to replace Moreno. These are just three among a whole batch of stand-out players who grabbed their moment in the spotlight with both hands.
- The final point links in closely to point two. We’re all expecting dramatic changes during the summer as Klopp overhauls the current first team squad and injects it with the sort of players he believes will deliver on his expectations. In year one with Dortmund, Klopp got rid of seventeen players, and signed thirteen. Huge numbers, but at present probably ones that would be welcome at Liverpool. If history is anything to go by, the Liverpool side that kicks off the 16/17 season could be largely unrecognisable from the one that finishes this season.
Taking into account the current league and cup situation and the fact that a good number of players will be on their bikes come the summer, I’d suggest that Jurgen Klopp finds himself in a great situation right now. He has the opportunity to blood the young talent in a run of tough league games without any real consequence, based on the belief that fourth is already gone and he hasn’t had the chance to assemble his own team yet. The benefit to throwing two or three in per game could be huge as the new season rolls around. For the manager he gets the chance to assess the lads at the highest level, for the players they get the chance to stake a claim and test themselves amongst top flight players in a run rarely afforded younger talent. Brannagan, Teixeira, Illori, Stewart, Smith, Randall, Kent and Ojo are a few of the names I’d be delighted to see picked in the starting eleven over the remainder of the league season. Not in one foul swoop mind you, but mixed in amongst the current crop of first team regulars. If we consider a lot of the current crop of first teamers will be plying their trade elsewhere in a few months then it looks foolish not to take the chance to blood these lads. I hope we basically see a reversal to the norm, throw the lads into the league action and save the big guns for the cup challenge. Go on Jurgen, you know it makes sense.