There is no doubt that Jürgen Klopp is a high calibre manager. His work with Borussia Dortmund sent shockwaves around the world when his team managed to rise from 13th in the Bundesliga constantly struggling to stay in the league, to back-to-back titles in the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 seasons as well as winning the DFB-Pokal in 2012. However, having been announced as Liverpool manager, the question arises, can he bring a somewhat dishevelled Liverpool team back to the top of the Premier League amid some of the most competitive football played in England for years?
It is fair to say that Brendan Rodgers was committed to gaining glory for Liverpool; the fact that his team looked on track to win the Premier League in 2013/14 is a great testament to his managerial prowess, having been pipped to the title by Manchester City by only 2 points. He made sure to make the team his team by bringing in 31 players over his 3 year stint as boss, spending £291,550,000. Signings such as Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, and more recently Danny Ings and Nathaniel Clyne all seem to be well-calculated buys with a view for the future. However, bad acquistions such as Fabio Borini (bought from Roma for £10.5million) and Mario Balotelli (bought from AC Milan for £16million) simply failed to gel with the team, and so do nothing but tarnish Rodgers image. The fact that he had not won a trophy in his 3 years as manager, coupled with the fact that Liverpool currently sit tenth in the Premier League, meant that the fans and the board slowly lost their trust in him. Enter Jürgen Klopp.
Not only is Klopp experienced in turning a team into title-winners in a small number of years, he has managed his team in the final of the Champions League, despite not winning it, this bodes well for Liverpool’s chances of tasting European success once again in the near future. European football has been a key goal for Liverpool since the Shankly and Paisley years, therefore, for Klopp, qualification for the Champions League would be the first step on the long road to becoming a Liverpool legend.
Liverpool’s league record this season cannot be ignored, having scored 8 and let in 10 goals in 8 games, it is obvious where the frailties lie. The constant injuries to Daniel Sturridge over the past 2 seasons have been a nightmare for Liverpool, if Klopp wants to succeed, he needs Sturridge to be on top goal-scoring form, ideally replicating his tally of 24 goals in 2013/14. Admittedly however, new signings Christian Benteke and Danny Ings have shown their ability to score goals too, with the former scoring a wonderful overhead kick goal-of-the-season contender against Manchester United in September. If Klopp was to get all three of his main strikers pulling in the same direction, Liverpool could very well become a force to reckon with.
Of course, with Klopp arriving late to the party, he has no time to tweak his team to his own style, he has no pre-season with which to test out formations and strategies, he has mere days to enforce his playing style upon his team and stamp his philosophy on this struggling Liverpool team. Moreover, he is used to having the winter break in Germany. During this break, he would take his team on a training camp in Spain; it clearly worked for him last season where his Dortmund side went from 17th at the start of the winter break, to 7th at the end of the season, winning over 50% of their remaining games and ensuring European football for Dortmund once again. He has no such luxury in the Premier League, he must get to work straight away without a break to bond his team together. The biggest enemy for Klopp and Liverpool this year is not Everton, nor is it any of the London clubs, nor is it even Manchester United… it is time.
There are severe doubts as to whether Klopp can win anything this year, the team he is inheriting is already off the pace, however, like all managers, Klopp must be given time. If Liverpool do not make it into the top four this year, he must be given the chance to have a fresh season next year. In the Summer he must build his own squad around what he already has, and he must mould them together to play his own brand of football.