Progress At Liverpool FC Regardless Of Final Fixture

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Let’s get something absolutely clear from the off, friends – whether Liverpool beat Middlesborough and secure a Champions League play-off or not, there has been obvious, demonstrable progress under Jürgen Klopp this season. This really shouldn’t need saying, but the fickle and pugnacious nature of many of our fans makes it important to nail your colours to the mast on any areas of potential conflict. Heaven forbid that one might not be comically extreme on every position. It seems to be de rigeur to be entrenched and furious about every decision the club makes. There are times when LFC phone-ins and social media seem to be solely populated by outraged Alex Jones clones frothing rabidly about the issue of the day.

Normally, as a comparatively measured chap, I abhor joining in the screeching rancorous civil war beloved of so many who purport to share an affinity for Liverpool Football Club. It always seems like such a boring kind of hysteria, such a fruitless investment of one’s energy – the impotent raging against something one cannot hope to influence. On the issue of progress, however, I bow to no man, woman or keyboard warrior. Things are getting better. You can throw stats at me until Charle Adam’s cup final penalty eventually comes down from the sky and I will not waver – Klopp’s 2017 Liverpool, even if it has stumbled unforgivably this season, is on the up.

When it comes to Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool, however, everybody’s a critic. Professional curmudgeon and controversy enthusiast, Eamon Dunphy, writing in The Irish Daily Star today, said that the Redmen “need to start thinking, and acting, like a big club again.” His thesis is that Liverpool’s owners must back their manager in the transfer market, assuming the objective of top-tier European competition is attained.

“The Liverpool squad needs to be strengthened significantly,” insisted the cadaverous ex-Manchester United and Milwall grunt. “They need a goalkeeper, at least one centre-half, a left-back, a central midfielder, a winger and probably two strikers. And they need players of Champions League quality in those positions. They won’t be easy to find as a host of top clubs will be going into the market. But if Liverpool are prepared to spend big – on wages as well as transfer fees – they can attract quality, as the club is a global brand. Tougher tests are coming down the track, but Liverpool have a chance now to make a big statement about where they want to go.”

Not many would argue with that patently obvious take on the Anfield squad situation, but when the grizzled pundit cites “the happy-clappy image” of the German coach and speculates that it “could be wearing thin with players when things aren’t going well,” he is straying into the kind of territory that seems gratuitously insulting and indulgently subjective – in other words, exactly the kind of thing that some Liverpool fans have been whining at each other about all season. Some folk, it seems, feed on conflict and these misery vampires are all too prevalent.

For this reason, it was especially gratifying for those of us inclined to mine the best from life, when Daniel Sturridge started and scored on Sunday. His goal was exactly the kind of thing we love about the player – clinical, clever and effortlessly classy. The Sturridge situation is complex and endlessly frustrating but the player’s brilliance has never been up for debate amongst those of a rational nature. The rage-chorus is currently engaged in bile-soaked speculation about the wriggly-armed hitman but many of us were just supremely relieved and heartened to see the player do what he does best.

“The manager has shown faith in me and we have a good relationship as well,” Sturridge insisted. “The fans have been different class. I don’t have any worries about next season. I am looking forward to this last game. We need the three points of course and then we’ll be in the Champions League. These are the things I guess you don’t train on very much when you’re one on one, you don’t really get many, with that much time anyway. I felt sharp. I’m glad to be starting and glad to be providing some chances for the boys as well and it’s a great victory for us.”

After the match, Klopp, who recently promoted the Reds’ participation in the summer’s Audi Cup in hologram form, was understandably pleased with his charges and took some satisfaction in the players’ ability to “handle pressure.” He told the media that the immediate dressing room reaction was ‘one more time, one more game’ which indicates that nobody at the club is expecting or relying on any favours from David Moyes or Ronald Koeman. This is probably a very wise course of action. Another smart move might be for the manager to go with a similarly attacking line-up against Middlesborough. Certainly his neighbour and hug-buddy, Adam Lallana seemed to suggest that the choice of personnel imbued the team with a sense of confidence.

“It was a very calm atmosphere actually,” the talented attacker told “People were obviously talking about the pressure with the results on Saturday, but I felt very calm even in the warm-up and the dressing room. I felt the balance was right and we didn’t have to put too much pressure on ourselves. You only have to look at the teamsheet and it had goals, creative players, it had everything really, and I felt we trusted that, we trusted our ability.”

A moderately clever French bloke called Voltaire once said that “appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” Lallana was able to see what was admirable in his teammates and it gave him confidence. Ahead of the make-or-break fixture at Anfield next Sunday, Liverpool fans could try the same approach. The points tally, the peaks of performance when they have come, the overall standard of the personnel and the results against the very best sides are all evidence of progress. Needless to say, we’d all be that much more appreciative if those things were on display in the very finest European venues next season.

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  1. Lots of adjectives aiming to impress but not much substance. In fact, the lack of substance is ammunition for the critics, because without the proofs to justify the writer’s position, the critics can say that statistically Klopp’s PL record to date is no different to Brendan Rodgers’.

  2. And if critics did say that they would sound a bit stupid considering klopp hasn’t had the luxury of having the services of Gerrard, sterling, a fully fit Sturridge and of course that other fella who was quite good…
    …I think it was Suarez 😉
    Give those to klopp and we might of actually won some trophies by now

  3. I have a mind of my own and with it, I sense it is only tactical myopia and deep hatred for lfc that can compell one to compare Rogers to Klopp. Klopp is light years ahead. If klopp has failed to win the EPL this season, blame it on the injuries. Based on what is at his disposal, he has done so well. I strongly believe so many famous coaches would’ve been faced with relegation threat if they were to be challenged just excactly like Klopp. Believe it or not our team was an average team right from the start of 2016/17 campaign and made worst by key injuries. Yet we are where we are, and about to finish where we are going to finish. Let’s give it to Klopp and his entire players. Never ever come up with the Brendan Rogers comparison any more. I Am a fan of lfc with pride. I guess you are a fan of Brendan Rogers. If not, why must you always pop up with your featherweight analysis of Rogers – Klopp equation?

  4. Every team has injuries. To “blame it on injuries” is a feeble excuse. It’s clutching at straws.

    There is no point feeling sorry for Klopp if he didn’t have the resources at his disposal. Well whose fault was that then? There is no conclusive evidence to suggest he was prohibited from making signings. In fact, he is responsible for 3 major blunders this season, 2 of which have been mentioned by Carragher.

    First, after the Europa League final, it was patently obvious that Liverpool needed a left back. It was the proverbial elephant in the room. Instead Klopp decided to convert an ageing midfielder in to a left back. If Hodgson did that, he would have been slaughtered and rightly so. But when Klopp does it, he is a tactical genius.

    Milner has done his best so he cannot be criticised but Klopp is solely responsible for the fact that Milner slows the attacks and allows defenders to get back in to their position by cutting back on to his right foot. There has been games we would have won had a first time ball gone in with the left foot. Let’s say 3 points more than we have now.

    Second Klopp knew Mane was going Afcon and how vital he was. Question is what did he do about it? Nothing. This demonstrates what a respected insider said that, at the time of his appointment, Klopp told the board that what he had was good enough to work with, whereas Ancelotti said otherwise. So this mistake (let’s estimate also cost us a minimum of 3 points)

    Third is his substitutions. Case in point being he waited until the 68th minute against Southampton to bring on Lallana and Sturridge, when it was obvious by half time that change was needed. Let’s just say this failure cost us a minimum of another 3 points. All of a sudden we are 9 points better off and closer to the title.

    The fact that you believe other managers would be close to relegation with this squad is irrelevant because you have just made a statement (just put it out there) without backing it up. You then ironically coat it by criticising my “featherweight anslysis.” I wonder who is the one suffering from myopia.

    Just because it’s the fashion to call Klopp’s reign a raging success, it doesn’t mean you have to be the sheep in the herd. Sometimes, rather than just agree with everybody else in robotic monosyllables, it does help if you watch the games yourself and try to figure out what’s going on.

    Try to think why there is such a large gap between Lovren and Milner and why teams keep pumping it in to that channel and scoring from it. Then try to work out why it happened. I am sure you cerebral functions are in working order as you seem to be a master of using sugar-coated adjectives. Perhaps you can use some of that grey matter to justify your opinions on the basis of evidence from games.

    The facts (or phacts as Rafa would say) speak for themselves. Klopp’s record is no different to BR’s record in the PL. People simply focus on what BR had but he still had to get the best out of it. They forget what Klopp has failed to do. They just get on the hype train and keep riding until the media tell them that actually he is getting it wrong.

    Then they change their tune. Have you not noticed how we repeatedly concede elementary goals from set pieces and how we have become so easy to play against since January. Klopp has only had 18 months to organise us on set pieces. Most other managers lower down manage to get their team to do basics right from set pieces. Do you not see this or is your head in the sand? Are you flexible enough to get your head in the sand?

  5. This Klopp vs Rodgers dialogue is a little over the top. In little more than half a season Klopp took Rodgers players to two finals. The results weren’t what we wanted but the achievement was still special. After one summer window Klopp has taken the team to an undefeated record against the top seven and is a game away from CL qualification. If that isn’t enough to show the difference between the two managers the most convincing evidence is the eye. This team is capable of playing a very exciting brand of football and they will only get better. The other difference is the mood of the team and the vast majority of the supporters. We like what the team is doing and we have hope for the future. Didn’t have much of that 20 months ago.


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