It’s not been a good couple of weeks to be a Liverpool fan, has it?
Some disappointing results and performances since the international break has seen discontent at boss Jurgen Klopp start to come to the fore. Coupled with a perceived lack of activity in the transfer market, some selection decisions that have not come off and a statistic that Klopp earned six fewer points in the same time as Brendan Rodgers and, amongst some, there are question marks over the German’s future.
So, we’ve corralled some of the team here at Friends of Liverpool to give us their take on Klopp’s performance and future. Is he the man for the job? Does he get a raw deal or is he getting an easy ride from many? Let’s see what they have to say:
Considering Liverpool have only lost two games since March, those criticisms of Klopp are undoubtedly unfair, however, it is clear to see why many supporters are losing their patience. The German was a fan favourite the minute he stepped foot inside Anfield, and has formed a special bond with the Liverpool faithful, yet a somewhat anxious start to the season is perhaps the reason for this divide between the fans. For me, I certainly wouldn’t like to see Klopp go soon and so I believe he deserves a lot more time, yet to spend money on another attacker in Oxlade-Chamberlain as opposed to a much-needed centre-back was a foolish mistake. I can understand how the German is so quick to defend his back four and goalkeeper, yet to believe they are capable of challenging for trophies is unthinkable. I simply cannot comprehend how Klopp can be so ignorant and fail to bring in an accomplished defender – perhaps more than one – along with a capable goalkeeper, and so I hope that January arrives with a number of new signings as this current crop are a long way off competing for a top four spot as well as a place in the latter stages of the Champions League.
Nobody’s perfect, honestly. The truth of the matter is that a lot of the statistics being trotted out about Klopp have to be taken in context. Remember his first few months in charge involved a deep Europa League run that was prioritised to get Champions League football. Hence we went away from home and played a second string line-up wherever possible meaning fewer points were picked up. Then again some criticism is fair: we should have strengthened our defensive options more than just Robertson and the signing of Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn’t seem to have logic. Plus, his continued choice to play Dejan Lovren really boggles the mind. The truth is, though, that he’s the best boss we’ve had since Rafa and we should back him to the hilt. Hodgson was trash, Dalglish was initially good but made questionable signings and Brendan was a good coach but really got success on the back of Luis Suarez. Klopp revitalised the club and made it fun to be a Liverpool fan again so let’s not jump on him when a couple of games have went south.
What can you say about Liverpool this season that hasn’t already been said? Poor defensively. Check. Great going forward. Check. Goalkeeping problems. Check. All we are seeing is people regurgitating the same tripe over and over again. But “Klopp out”? That’s a new one on me. Surely this isn’t serious. OK, Jurgen Klopp has his faults. He refuses to buy a new centre-half for whatever reason and apparently sees something he can work with in the goalkeepers that we currently have. These are also issues he had whilst at Borussia Dortmund when his back four contained Neven Subotic, who was by no means a world-class centre-half. He took them to a Champions League final and two Bundesliga titles. Now, it is a problem that has persisted. In two years at the club, Jurgen Klopp has taken us to two cup finals and led us back into the Champions League. I’m not saying these issues don’t matter, of course they do, they’re costing us points. But he has proven that when he gets it right, his heavy-metal, gegenpressing, high-tempo football is a system that works. This is characterised by the front three he has assembled, which is frighteningly good. It’s fair to assume that he has a complete disregard for defending, but while this team is attacking the way it is then we will always win games. Finally, let me put this question to you – when was the last time you had this much fun watching Liverpool? Thought so. Klopp out, my arse.
Football is such a funny sport. Travel less than a month into the past and the buzz around Liverpool was about a potential title challenge following the 4-0 drubbing of Arsenal. Two draws and two losses later, a terrifyingly toxic atmosphere has started to pollute the air that we fans breathe. Obvious improvements made under Klopp are constantly dismissed as critics somehow find it difficult to understand that this team couldn’t possibly become league champions in merely two full seasons. A popular statistic that keeps getting thrown around as of late is one that compares Klopp’s Premier League record with that of Brendan Rodgers after the same number of games. These numbers are often used to try and expose the lack of progress under the German but they could not be further from the truth. The first crucial piece of information to take into account is that Brendan Rodgers racked up 82 points in his second season at the club. A remarkable feat no doubt but one that clearly skews the tally in his favour. I am by no means discrediting that achievement by Rodgers but rather stating that having a lower total number of points at this stage should be expected from Klopp given how well 2013/2014 went for Rodgers. To put it simply, he has improved from Rodgers but not from 13/14 yet. In addition, Klopp spent several weeks in his debut campaign sacrificing league points in order to guide his side to two finals, two more than Rodgers managed in his entire tenure. Klopp is a great manager but he definitely has his faults, the defence is still a major issue and his transfer strategy over the last two summers baffles logic. However, given the German’s pedigree and the obvious steps forward that the club has already taken under his tutelage I have no doubts that he’s the perfect man to lead this great club onwards.
Jurgen Klopp has given Liverpool fans what they have been craving for a long time – moments. Football is about creating moments. The club’s run to the Europa League Final in 2016 – including that game at Anfield against Borussia Dortmund – contained many. Also in the same season, Liverpool reached the League Cup Final and over the past twelve months, they have won the majority of their matches against the so-called Premier League’top six’. However, consistency is the issue. The problem is maintaining Liverpool’s high-quality performances over a sustained period whilst adhering to Klopp’s ‘full-throttle’ style of play. Klopp doesn’t appear to have a plan B – whether it be the style of play or transfers – and this is causing the major issue on Merseyside. Klopp has to revert back to his roots at Mainz and Dortmund where they couldn’t compete against the financial superpowers and so had to create via different means. For Liverpool to push to the next level, the manager and players need to become more adaptable. Transfers are a part of this, but not the be-all-and-end-all. Coaching has to take precedent – the defence needs work and a sense of continuity and the attack needs to become more clinical. Liverpool under Klopp at the moment are a good team that are capable of winning in most circumstances but they need to become more adaptable, tougher and clinical to turn these moments into something greater.