Claudio Ranieri, the manager of reigning Premier League champions Leicester City, prepares his team to take on Jurgen Klopp’s men once the league resumes this weekend after the international break. Is it just the mind games from Ranieri or do his statements have any truth in it?
No offence, but Liverpool are considered as one of the biggest disappointments in the last two decades of the Premier League. Despite being one of the top clubs in terms of fan base and revenue, they have been nowhere near the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and most recently, Manchester City in terms of their ability to achieve. Apart from a couple of campaigns, Liverpool have vastly underachieved even though they have had top players like Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, and Luis Suarez. Yet, they were unable to mount a serious title challenge apart from two seasons since the turn of the millennium.
Klopp was straightaway given a six-year contract after the owners watched him in the second half of last season. The German manager asks his team to operate at such an intense level that it takes time for the players to build their fitness to the requirements. After having his first full pre-season with the Reds, it may be difficult or tough to judge Klopp just on the 2016-17 season. They do have a good and strong squad but injuries to key players have been the biggest hindrance.
Liverpool have one of finest English forwards, Daniel Sturridge, but the striker has made less than 50 league appearances in the last two years. In order to compensate for the injured players, Liverpool used to rely on average names in the past. However, Klopp has brought in the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane to provide not just competitive replacements but also offer a real headache in terms of the starting line-up.
Even if Liverpool do not have the largest squad amongst the top teams, they can certainly do well in the 2016-17 campaign with a small bunch of players. This is largely due to the absence of Europa League – or any other European football for that matter – this campaign. It remains to be seen if Klopp will be able to employ his intense pressing game due to the better energy levels his players are bound to have due to lack of European football.