Despite Liverpool actually doing fairly well this season, some of the negativity surrounding the team would make you think they are in Everton’s current plight.
It hasn’t been a memorable campaign so far, and some nights have been ruined by poor displays and late capitulations, but just one defeat in 13 matches suggests the Reds are progressing nicely.
They have won four of their last five Premier League games, at an aggregate score of 14-2, and only Willian’s lucky late goal for Chelsea prevented it from being five victories in succession.
Given the level of impatience that exists these days, particularly with social media now a platform for everybody to express their views, it is no surprise to see some supporters bizarrely rounding on Jurgen Klopp.
The German isn’t the messiah, and shouldn’t have been treated that way from minute one, but he is an excellent manager who will continue to take the team forward.
Perhaps Man City’s frankly ridiculous form is making expectation levels unreasonable – whatever it is, such unfair criticism is wide of the mark.
Curiously, for all the keyboard warriors out there making head-scratching comments about the manager that aren’t even worth reading, the ones who really have it in for him are those who adored Rafa Benitez.
Before this sounds as though I didn’t like the European Cup-winning Spaniard, I can assure that you I was a huge fan, and remain that way today.
He understood what it took to manage a club of Liverpool’s magnitude, and he did a wonderful job there between 2004 and 2010.
The Champions League success in 2005 remains the greatest time I’ve ever had following the Reds, and Liverpool became one of Europe’s most formidable teams with Benitez at the helm.
To this day, I semi-support whichever team the Spaniard is in charge of, and revel in him riling other managers and outfoxing them with his tactical brilliance. Stay up please, Newcastle.
He is a great man, who deserves all the love he has from Liverpool supporters.
The problem is, there are some out there who felt so unhappy with the way Benitez left, and how he was treated in general, that they are now taking it out on Klopp.
Benitez had to deal with soap opera-esque goings on at Anfield during the infamous reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, as well as a bizarre selection of fans who wanted him sacked even when Liverpool were top of the Premier League in 2008/09.
Some people had it in for Benitez for no reason, never managing to warm to him, and it irked those who idolised the current Newcastle boss.
So imagine when Klopp comes along in October 2015, and everyone showers him with adulation from the second he arrives on English shores.
The fans, the media, the pundits. Everyone. And when a few dodgy results came Liverpool’s way, there was still unanimous positivity surrounding him.
Imagine what that does in the minds of those who felt so furious about the treatment of Benitez.
Whether or not it’s a subconscious thing, they naturally struggled to take to Klopp from the off because of this. They will now lay into him at every given opportunity, almost as a way of showing their unwavering support for Benitez.
Their first instinct when Liverpool lose or Klopp says something questionable in a press conference appears to be, “Rafa was never like that”, or, “The Reds would never have lost that game under Benitez”.
It is normally something to do with Klopp being “too nice”, “too emotional” and “not being tactically astute enough”, because Benitez was the opposite of those things.
Why should Klopp be punished because of the way Benitez was treated by many in the footballing fraternity? There is no relevance whatsoever.
The Klopp doubters, who I must say are of a certain vintage – I don’t mean to be ageist, but they generally remember the glory days, and still think Liverpool have a divine right to be top of the table – are letting the unjust treatment of Benitez warp their views on Klopp. It is starting to make their opinion less credible.
The bottom line is that both are special managers in their own right, and both also have, or had in Benitez’s case at Liverpool, bad days at the office. Benitez has done more at Anfield and should be considered the more successful, but Klopp is still a long way from perfecting his plans.
Those who criticise Klopp’s use of substitutes tend to forget that Benitez only ever seemed to make changes on the hour mark, regardless of the situation of the match. It used to drive us all to distraction.
Those who lambast Klopp for an inability to beat the weaker teams at home have clearly forgotten about all those Anfield draws that proved so costly in 2008/09, and in other seasons. They were painfully predictable.
Klopp has failed with a few new signings, but Benitez made some absolute shockers during his six years with the Reds, whether it be Antonio Nunez, Andriy Voronin, Philipp Degen, David N’Gog or an injury-ravaged Alberto Aquilani.
All this seems to be forgotten in the eyes of the pro-Benitez/anti-Klopp brigade, however, with the former treated like he was perfection personified.
Look at Benitez’s six seasons at Liverpool after 14 league games played, and then look at Klopp’s. There is very little difference:
- 2004/05 – 24pts
- 2005/06 – 31pts
- 2006/07 – 22pts
- 2007/08 – 30pts
- 2008/09 – 34pts
- 2009/10 – 24pts
- 2016/17 – 31pts
- 2017/18 – 29pts
Both of these records are largely good under both managers, but there certainly isn’t some giant chasm between Benitez and Klopp – a chasm many would make you think exists.
The bottom line is that both Benitez and Klopp have their good and bad points, with the former outweighing the latter handsomely.
Quite why so many are hellbent on using Benitez as a stick to beat Klopp with is an odd one, but it would be nice to just see them get behind the current manager.
Klopp is the more warm, charismatic, likable individual, so it is only natural that he will more universally popular with supporters, media and anyone associated with the game.
Get over it and move on.
Benitez not earning the praise he merited should not have anything to do with your thoughts on Klopp. If it does, you’re holding an unnecessary grudge, and are therefore judging him unfairly.