The charge labelled repeatedly against Jurgen Klopp is that he’s too loyal to his players, his staff and even his employees. Last season it felt like for many Reds that whilst they’d never turn on the manager who they love and adore, a certain line of credit was burned through by the players and him to some extent. This season and how Liverpool fared in the opening months feels pivotal in Klopp’s tenure. Looking at how the summer window is going, everyone’s loyalty is set to be potentially tested and hopefully, the manager has and will get it right.
When asked about loyalty and Liverpool’s struggles in January, Klopp was unequivocal in his response. “I heard I’m too loyal but I am not too loyal. The problem is too complex. If you can then go out and bring in another player to replace him, then it makes sense. But if you cannot bring anyone in, you cannot take anyone out. I am not too loyal. At Dortmund, it was clear when I left, I said ‘Something has to change here. It is a different situation.” The concerns of certain fans haven’t evaporated and a massive summer window which has just opened is driving tensions for all.
After the struggles endured by Fabinho, whose form appeared to fall off a cliff at one point the expectation and hope was a number six would be heading to Anfield. However, despite links with the likes of Caicedo and Ugarte, none of the recent transfer targets such as Thuram and Gravenberch carry that speciality. The manager appears to have retained faith in the Brazilian and by the looks of it a young Stefan Bajcetic and Jordan Henderson to cover that position. With the adopted 3-2-2-3, the former Monaco destroyer looked to be back to some semblance of his previous form, but it’s still a leap of faith for many to believe the Fabinho of old is still there. That’s before relying on a youngster and his 33-year-old captain.
Further back in the side, the drop-off from the likes of Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez saw many expecting a more than decent centre-half to enter the equation who could push to become a starter. As per Neil Jones on our media matters shows, whilst midfield is the priority a defender is still being looked at. However, a young centre-half whose prepared to bide their time and develop in their first season before challenging for a start is the profile being looked at. One glance at social media told you the alarm bells ringing for some reds at this update.
The form of Van Dijk or not was potentially the greatest concern with last year’s struggles and even questions being asked in this summer’s internationals aren’t resorting to faith. Both Matip and Gomez struggled badly at times, with games like Brighton away held up as evidence for why a new and top defender should be a priority for all in the fabled transfer committee. There are little question marks around Ibou Konate’s ability, but his injury record and the demands placed on him in the new formation do bring worries. As Jones put it, Klopp doesn’t seem to share the same concerns that others do.
There have been suggestions from other journalists that a bad start and Klopp could see his position under real threat by Christmas. The window has just opened and there’s still time when Jorg Schmadtke could bring in key personnel which could alter the opinions of those more sceptical. However, in the most pivotal window under his tenure and with those underlying suspicions still remaining, history will judge this period in the most critical terms. Whilst he won’t ever call out FSG and whilst he always backs his players, we’re about to find out just how that loyalty is set to be rewarded or not.