The last few weeks have been far from ideal for Liverpool Football Club with results not going the way supporters or the club would like and the injury list once again becoming stacked up.
Aside from minor injuries that the likes of Dejan Lovren might be carrying consistently, Liverpool now have three starting players out. Sadio Mane’s hamstring injury means he will be out for six weeks and joins Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana on the road to recovery.
Constant injuries won’t help the growing pressure that surrounds Jürgen Klopp to improve on the results of the past few weeks.
Yet, when all is said and done, the manager himself has a very precise plan of what he wants for the club in mind and while he doesn’t share this with journalists at press conferences, there is no doubting that the former Borussia Dortmund man is confident in his ability to bring success to Merseyside.
An important thing to note when trying to understand the what Klopp has in mind for Liverpool and how he’s going to go about achieving what he wants to are the trends that have been laid down in his career so far.
At 50 years of age, the German has managed three football clubs including Liverpool. He took over the reigns at Mainz after retiring as a professional footballer and took charge of a club in need of vast improvement, not in the way Liverpool are, but Mainz were a ways off what they wanted to become.
7 years later after spending minimal money – he couldn’t really as Mainz was a cash strapped club – he departed after seeing them relegated and joined Borussia Dortmund the next month.
Comparisons between Klopp’s time at Dortmund and his tenure at Liverpool are more appropriate given their relative statuses and wealth at the time of his managing them.
Although Liverpool is a club that has a lot of money – not quite so much as the Manchester clubs but plenty all the same – Dortmund was not when Klopp took over in 2008 and his transfer targets along with the expertise of Director of Sport Michael Zorc saw future stars signed in Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus. All for what are now the biggest bargains in world football.
When Klopp signed as Liverpool manager in 2015, supporters were understandably excited about a manager joining who had in recent years made it to the Champions League final. Yet, many fans were excited for the wrong reasons.
It has become somewhat of a joke on Twitter among many during any transfer window to reply to any of the club’s tweets with “sign Reus.” While this might be purely because the German flyer is a player who would instantly improve Liverpool, in 2015, it become a possibility in many fans’ minds that signing Reus was achievable because Klopp had managed him.
It wasn’t just Reus, however, with present and past Dortmund players seen by a portion of the Liverpool fan base as open season because of our manager’s relationship with him.
Regardless of the fact that Liverpool didn’t challenge for his signature, I think the fact that Henrikh Mkhitaryan signed for Manchester United would point to the fact that Klopp having managed him and other players isn’t the be all and end all.
What Jurgen Klopp will bring to Liverpool, and of this I am absolutely certain, are trophies.
The challenge he faces, however, is not turning the doubters into believers as he so famously said in 2015 but convincing fans that instant success that the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea achieve through their investment is not the trump card.
What seems to have been forgotten since Klopp took over at Liverpool is that he is first and foremost a coach. Many other managers like Jose Mourinho succeed through signing players like Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, who are readymade quality players.
Klopp, on the other hand, is a manager that historically likes to hone a player’s skillset over a couple years and turn them into something great. Klopp signed Robert Lewandowksi as a raw 21-year-old and helped turn him into one of the best number nines on the planet and almost won the Champions League with him.
While this might be one of his greatest achievements, one of his greatest critiques at the moment is failing to sign anyone in the club’s most problematic area.
Having not signed Virgil van Dijk and then a replacement, and given ample time in the summer to do so, failure to sign a central defender when issues at the back persist is damning but it won’t see Klopp’s tenure at Liverpool deemed a failure.
Despite the fact that Liverpool have conceded 28 set-piece goals in 75 games under Klopp, more than Leicester City and the same as Swansea and Southampton, the faith placed in him by the club’s owners will be repaid over time.
Some will tell me I’m following blindly and Klopp will suffer a similar fate to Gerard Houllier and Brendan Rodgers but the fact of the matter is that this Liverpool side is Naby Keita and a few top additions in defensive areas away from being a classy outfit.
It’s tiresome to be saying this directly after a transfer window when there was the opportunity to go into the season with such a squad at hand but the truth is, Liverpool aren’t as bad a side as some would have you believe.
In fact, if a couple results this season had gone Liverpool’s way, we would all be singing an entirely different tune.
So here’s my advice, and don’t for a second think I’m being condescending. Klopp knows what he’s doing and has a very precise plan in mind, even if he’s not sharing it in 140 characters. Manchester United visit Anfield this weekend and their visit presents an opportunity to both kick-start our season and take them down a peg.
Up the Reds.