‘This year’s our year.’ Sound familiar?
Well, next season just might be. Exuberant Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, has transformed this reinvented Liverpool side from scraping European spots to potentially challenging for the ever so elusive first Premier League title in 2018/19.
Ultimately, it all seems to be down to the coach. Jurgen Norbert Klopp. He’s injected a new sense of freedom in the way they play, where they can enjoy themselves and not be distracted by media, like previous Liverpool sides’ might have been. From the outset, Klopp has created a fun-loving vibe, bringing the squad together through team building and increasing the camaraderie and unity. Look at Liverpool now. Every fan loves the coach, the players love the coach, the coach loves the players, and it’s resulting in not just winning games, but scintillating football to watch too.
So in two and a half years, what has Klopp done to reinvigorate and modernise such a historic and traditional club?Embed from Getty Images
First and foremost, their defence are no longer a calamity of errors and miscommunication. The highly publicised and elongated signing of Southampton outcast, Virgil van Dijk, has sured up the back four and has given them a focal point: a true leader to sort out all misunderstandings. Joel Matip, a former Bundesliga starter at Schalke, arrived on a free transfer at the end of Klopp’s first half season in charge. Schalke dropped from 5th place in the 15/16 season (and a Europa league position) to 10th place in 16/17, (after Matip left) proving how important he was to their team and an indicator as to the quality of the player Liverpool were about to gain.
Previous to Klopp’s era, full backs have been a huge issue for Liverpool, with repeated complaints about the likes of Alberto Moreno, Jon Flanagan and Jose Enrique. The recent emergences of Andy Robertson, signed from Hull at the beginning of this season and the 19 year old academy project himself, scouse Trent Alexander-Arnold, have given Liverpool fans a breath of fresh air. Klopp’s system of playing youth, if they’ve got the right attitude, will never fail as not only will they gain experience, but they also give off a raw tenacity, to keep their spot in the side. Klopp’s evident trust and belief in these players is what fuels them and gives the confidence to perform on the big stage. A year of solidification and a slightly more uniformed structure will do them a world of good going into the next campaign.
Into the attacking aspect, it’s clear that attack has been the best form of defence for the Reds this season. A total of 78 goals have been scored so far in the league, only second behind Manchester City – a monumental feat. Mo Salah, as we know, has been nothing short of record-breaking.
With Sadio Mane providing a constant danger and the workhorse Bobby Firmino acting as a perfect link between the two, opposition defences have found it suspectedly difficult to contain the trio. An equal, direct threat from all three areas of the front third is quite hard to manufacture, yet Liverpool seem to have achieved it. While it can be debated that teams will know what to expect next season, the x-factor that all three stars can bring on any given day at any given time will arguably outweigh any research conducted. You can’t prepare for the unknown.
The addition of Naby Keita for next year, as well as rumoured transfer targets Jorginho and Alisson in goal brings a new depth and competition for places as well as extra, experienced players for rotation in Europe and domestic cup games. It will prevent the current squad from going stale and expecting a spot in the squad, also giving Klopp variety to pick the team he feels suits, with a plethora of options in every position.Embed from Getty Images
You might be laughing, but they’ve beaten current champions Manchester City three times this season. They’re into the semi-finals of the Champions League. Their manager knows how to win a league title, doing it with Dortmund back in 2011/12. No club have gone back to back in the PL since Manchester United in 07/08 & 08/09, when Ronaldo was still at the club 10 years ago. Why can’t Liverpool do it now?
Written by Gerard Vincent.