The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That’s such a clichéd turn of phrase. Often, with sayings such as that, meaning gets lost. What does it actually mean? If things change, surely corresponding changes occur. Something can’t possibly change without things changing alongside it, that’s the point of change. It inspires things, it creates other things, and it destroys some things.
Through all of the change that’s occurred within the last twelve months at Liverpool, the undying resolution of Liverpool fans to not exhibit any form of patience whatsoever is astoundingly constant. It’s as if Liverpool fans never had this burning desire to replace an obviously faulty manager with one that beat Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga twice and went to the ultimate summit of club football in the Champions League final. Is Klopp just another subject of intense scrutiny and vitriol? And if he is, will anyone ever satisfy the toxicity that exists in this football club.
Make no mistake, this club is still great. Perhaps living too much in the past, perhaps the expectations are too high; but one glance at two vitally important fixtures in Liverpool’s recent history: Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal’s trips to Anfield; shows just how incredibly this club – and it’s fans – can be.
Then, the dark side comes out; all it took was one summer – and all of a sudden every move Jürgen Klopp makes is subjected to the ire and fury of Liverpool’s ‘passionate’ fanbase. Inevitably, much of the ire was subjected at the club’s moves in the transfer market; moves which Klopp himself claimed chief responsibility.
How dare he sell one of Liverpool’s most diabolical, error-prone centre halves and replace him with a tall, strong Bundesliga defender who’s represented Schalke at the highest level consistently. How dare he address the most glaring need of height and strength via defending set pieces. How dare he spend a whole £30 million at Southampton again, doesn’t he know we have a Southampton-abuse problem? How dare he spend less than a third of what Juventus spend on Gonzalo Higuain on an attacker with pace and directness not seen in our attack for years. How dare he persist with a Spanish left-back that has all the attributes to succeed with the right coaching and who was actually one of the better players of the Brendan Rodgers tenure.
Of course, people have come around on Sadio Mane. People have come around on Joel Matip. People have come around on Alberto M- wait, no actually; they’re still wildly overreacting on that account. But you see the point; Liverpool is a hive of instant reaction, instant gratification, and jumping to conclusions.
So, when news came out that Klopp wouldn’t be pursuing deals for Christian Pulisic and Mahmoud Dahoud; two players that embody many of Liverpool fans’ deepest desires, there was a backlash, as there always is. Perhaps it’s a classic case of tunnel vision, perhaps it was just a slight overreaction; but the consensus seems to be that Liverpool are once again being left behind in both the transfer market and the Premier League.
But, really. Are we?
Mahmoud Dahoud, currently twenty years of age, is playing far ahead of his years. In one of the most intense, competitive leagues in world football, he’s currently occupying the role in centre midfield alongside Christoph Kramer and exhibiting all the trademarks of someone far ahead of expectations. A move to Liverpool would severely intensify those expectations, however, should he be good enough, then of course, those expectations will be met. If Jurgen Klopp has decided that Mahmoud Dahoud is the man he wants – a 20 year old who will probably be available next summer – instead of another central midfielder that Klopp perhaps didn’t want, what really matters? Does the ‘fume’ – if this writer can use that horrid colloquial term – brought about when Gladbach refused to sell Dahoud, does that matter?
Does the fact Liverpool couldn’t do a deal with Dortmund for a seventeen year old, let alone a winger who won’t be featured for the large part this campaign, and have instead opted to wait until a time when they feel they have better chance at securing the young American’s signature, does that matter?
Or does the manager who will in all likelihood be at the helm of this football club for several years, the one intent on building a squad capable of taking Liverpool back to the top, does he matter?
Make no mistake, if Klopp wants Dahoud, he will wait until he is available and then pursue him mercilessly. Klopp threw £30 million at Sadio Mané because he wanted the player and was willing to use the club’s funds to obtain him.
Short-sighted tunnel vision is a symptom of the instant gratification era; where fans want everything now and not a minute after. Which then begs the question, why the hell did we want Jürgen Klopp?
Of course, he’s a talented tactical manager; he’s probably the best man manager in the business. As aforementioned, he also managed to dethrone the gargantuan Bayern Munich for two seasons; and even went toe to toe with them on the biggest stage of them all. Yes, he did that all with a modest budget and tight knit squad of players who, on the face of things, were far inferior to that of their foes on the top of that mountain. And of course, he did take over a Liverpool side with a glaring amount of holes and take them to two cup finals – one of them a European one, without even having a pre-season.
But he didn’t sign a defensive midfielder. OR a left back. The cheek of him.
And thusly, he is therefore open to the ire and savage claws of a fan-base that will not rest until they see Premier League title on Liverpool’s trophy cabinet. And it would’ve happened this year! If only Jürgen had signed a left back to replace that god awful Alberto Moreno – you know, the one who’s actually quite a capable back with all the attributes to succeed under Klopp – or signed a defensive midfielder! No matter if Liverpool then went and signed Dahoud six months later and ended up with a 20 year old midfielder who couldn’t get a game, at least the desperate need for a covering midfielder would be satiated!
Why, oh why, can Jürgen not just compromise every belief he holds about football and the transfer market and do something he’s never done before and splash four hundred million pounds on three players at the peak of their careers to take us back to the top of the Premier League; alongside the three other clubs who’ve spent just as much with equal ambition.
So, the real question is, what do people expect?
Now, of course, we do need another midfielder. And we probably need another left back to compete with Alberto Moreno, dependent on James Milner’s progress.
Anyone who thought Jürgen Klopp would solve things in one, single transfer window, perhaps really didn’t want Jürgen Klopp at all. What they wanted was the idea of having on the best managers in the world bring success to the club. Of course, every Liverpool fan wants that. And guess what? We’ve got it. But for those who do want Jürgen Klopp, it’s going to take a fair bit of patience and a whole lot of trust to let the big loveable German take Liverpool to those kinds of eclectic highs that the fanbase so desperately covets. In fact, he already has. Think back to the feeling of getting to the Europa League final, despite the result. All it took was a few months and Klopp already had us dreaming again.
Give him a bit more time, and he’ll do a whole lot more than that.