When Jurgen arrived at Anfield, he followed three managers after Rafa Benitez had departed. He was a wonderful manager, a brilliant tactician & a man that brought the Champions League back to the red half of Liverpool. Istanbul stands as the greatest of finals, and the result will stand the test of time.
That kind of achievement cements a place in Liverpool folklore.
Rafa understood the reds, he understood the fans and understood the need for more. His final disagreements with Hicks & Gillet (former owners) saw him leave the reds without winning the league. Given the additional backing in his tenure, and with the funds to compete with Manchester United, Chelsea & Arsenal, he would have been able to claim that converted prize, probably.
The takeover by FSG and the stints of Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers all felt like a dress rehearsal before the main show, the Jurgen Klopp rock & roll show.
Upon announcing his leaving of Borussia Dortmund, his final season inevitably fell way below the level’s previously set. A short sabbatical was taken, the recharge was complete and Anfield had a new boss, the self proclaimed normal one.
Arriving with a huge reputation, massive self imposed expectation & an endearing personality, Jurgen Klopp set about his work with a smile.
The gegenpressing was brought in, players fell at the strain of work rate and the slow build to absolute success began. When the work is evident, the reds will always back the manager.
The players signed throughout the big German’s reign have been selected with care and precision. Liverpool’s sporting director, Michael Edwards, is a leading figure in his field, playing a significant role in all things recruitment. Players attributes are tracked, checked and the analytical study of the required attributes are confirmed prior to signing. Obviously Jurgen will have the final say on all players, and no doubt there are those which are signed, because he simply wants them.
The key with the recruitment, is that the player must fit the system, a system built to prosper, and Klopp is world class in implementing his version of the game. The brilliant Daniel Sturridge is testament to the fact, where despite all his attacking attributes, his body not being able to meet the needs of Jurgen’s system, will not cut it.
COVID-19 season, as this past year will no doubt be known, has brought challenges to all clubs. Liverpool (in defense of their league title), have experienced more injuries and disruption than most. The famous crowd of Anfield (missing in lockdown), added to the continuous team disruption will have caused Klopp’s job to be almost impossible in attempting to maintain previous levels set. The juggernaut team that nearly reached 100 points in the two previous campaigns, simply fell away as the squad crumbled.
No less than 19 defensive partnerships have been needed with injuries continues. Midfielders shoehorned into unfamiliar roles has created further disruption, and the system has been consistently failing as a result. This season cannot end soon enough for Klopp (who has also experienced terrible personal tragedy), and a restart that will hopefully see both fans & players returning, something that will bring much relief.
With title is lost & Champions League qualification unlikely, summer recruitment still appears active. The pandemic has left the riches of Europe’s elite somewhat sparse, thus the likelihood of key players leaving is remote. For quality managers that experience difficult seasons (such as Mauricio Pochettino or Antonio Conte), the bounce back is often quick. Klopp, after losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, the first time around, responded with an immense run and strong summer recruitment. A man so passionate in his approach, Klopp will be hurting just as much as all those that have seen this season unfold.
With the worlds best central defender (VVD) returning to be partnered with the rumored signing (the brilliant man mountain Ibrahim Konate), the reds could be fielding an imposing defensive partnership, that could once more shut down attacks with ease. It would also add a huge threat to the numerous corners and set pieces, that the reds have failed to take advantageous this term.
Recent murmurings of Jadon Sancho have arisen, with the owners no doubt looking to buy back the trust of Klopp, the players and certainly the fan base. The target may be far fetched, but the sense that another attacking threat will be added is sound. Even without Champions League for a year, the lure of Anfield & Klopp will no doubt turn most players heads, and the elite should still be attainable, if funds are in place.
In a relatively short duration, Klopp was able to build the best team in the world from a disjointed group he inherited. He was able to win Liverpool a first English League title in 30 years (in a timeframe he predicted), and he brought back the Champions League trophy as Rafa once had. All this was done with brilliant recruitment (keeping an impressive low net spend), and aggressive coaching. The man stood up to the great Manchester City, with Pep and those before him blessed with unlimited funds. He stood up to this trophy machine, and ran away from them, overcoming a team built to win.
A summer recharge for Klopp, some smart business adding to a less ravaged squad, and the mighty reds will be a huge force once more. An angry Jurgen Klopp is often followed by a trophy lift, and he will demand the best from everyone, including himself.
Form is only temporary, but Klopp’s class is permanent.