When Jürgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, there was speculation as to whether the German would make an instant impact and reignite the Reds of old, delivering the Premier League title in his first season. After the huge success he had experienced at Borussia Dortmund, this was not completely out of the question. The more cautious and realistic of fans realised that things would take a bit more time. Over the course of the season it has become apparent that progress is being made, and a top five finish in the league is well within Liverpool’s grasp.
Klopp made his name as one of the best managers in the world at Dortmund, but it took him a few years to achieve this status. Indeed, it was his third season at the club in which he guided them to the top of the Bundesliga, winning the league two years in a row. This was some feat, as his team were vying with one of the powerhouses of Europe, Bayern Munich, for the top spot.
No longer hung up on the past
What has been clear from the outset of Klopp’s tenure at Liverpool is his enthusiasm and passion. He has breathed new life into a team that were plodding along under Rodgers, and still coming to terms with the aftermath of the Luis Suarez sale. The turnaround is so great that 32red, 10bet and bwin have Liverpool at 12/5 to topple Manchester City in the League Cup final. Under Klopp Liverpool are no longer a side mourning the loss of a loved one, but a team excited about the future and injected with new life and energy. Those signings that didn’t pay off have become a distant memory, and there is confidence that the German won’t follow his predecessor in making rash judgements on new players.
It is important, however, to remember that it took a few seasons for Klopp to mould the Dortmund team into that title winning machine, and it could take a bit longer in England in a division where the competition is fierce. Although, Leicester City’s incredible success story, that sees them among the favourites to win the league with 32red and others, gives hope to every team and shows that anything is possible.
It may be best to wait until the summer transfer window to assess the direction in which Klopp is wishing to head with this team. Although he had reportedly been interested in signing Christian Benteke while at Dortmund, at present the Belgian doesn’t look like featuring much in his future plans. And the defence is in dire need of a complete overhaul, with many wondering how Simon Mignolet has lasted this long between the sticks. Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino look set to form the foundations of a devastating attack force, but can Daniel Sturridge be relied upon to spearhead the attack with his patchy fitness record?
Finish on a high
From Sturridge’s perspective, he will be desperately hoping that he can make it to the end of the season without suffering another injury. Not only because he needs to prove to his new manager that he is an integral member of the team, but also because he needs to be in with a shot of making the England squad for Euro 2016.
The England striker, who enjoyed such a fine season in Liverpool’s title challenging campaign of 2013/14 alongside Suarez, showed just what he can do against Aston Villa in his first league match of 2016. His positioning is still exceptional and he managed to slot away an easy goal to mark his return. His record for Liverpool in the matches he has played has been outstanding, with 38 goals in 61 league games. If he doesn’t manage to see out the rest of the season, though, Klopp may decide he is too unreliable, and look to build his team around a different striker as the focal point.
Liverpool can still end this season on a high. A fifth place finish is well within their grasp, and with the finals of the League Cup alongside that, it marks a fine achievement for Klopp’s first season in charge. Indeed, it is a rather promising omen for the future, and could be the beginning of the journey back to elite status. It has been too long since Liverpool were rubbing shoulders with the best in the world, but the signs indicate that the long wait may soon be over.