Klopp’s time at Anfield

Updated: October 28, 2016
jurgen-klopp

It’s been just over a year since Jürgen Klopp arrived at Anfield, radiating positivity with his big, toothy grin and talk of “turning doubters into believers”. He inherited a side downtrodden by the turgid conclusion to the Brendan Rodgers era and fans were immediately enthralled by the big German’s seemingly boundless energy. Now, twelve months into his time at the helm of Liverpool Football Club, we must ask if Klopp has produced the results to match his ambition? At the heart of the matter, Klopp’s ambition undoubtedly takes the form of silverware.

Given Liverpool’s two near misses, falling at the final hurdle in both the League Cup and the Europa League, the man himself will secretly feel the sting of failure in some capacity when he reviews his first year in charge. Nonetheless, to adjudge this first year as a failure based on the lack of a trophy would be an overly-simplistic, uninformed assessment of a spell that has produced more highs than lows for the Anfield faithful. Klopp inherited a squad at a low ebb, Liverpool had failed to recover from the hangover that followed on from the almost season in 2013/2014 and after being demolished away at Stoke on the final day of the 2014/2015 campaign the writing was on the wall for predecessor Brendan Rodgers.

A stunted beginning to the 2015/2016 season saw a number of nervy 1-0 wins paper over the cracks somewhat, but it was apparent from the outset that Liverpool were in dire need of a managerial change. Klopp may have been coming off the back of disappointing season for Borussia Dortmund, but his track-record and an infectious passion for the game made him the first-choice replacement for Rodgers among most Liverpool fans. There was an immediate transformation at Anfield upon Klopp’s appointment, in terms of results, mood and general outlook. The “new manager bounce” is an almost inevitable phenomenon in modern football (Aston Villa excepted), but with Klopp there was a feeling that this was more than just a temporary upturn in fortunes.

The lethargy that characterised the end of Rodgers’ time in charge slowly, but surely, began to dissipate, making way for the relentless pressing football that had established Klopp in the upper echelon of modern managers during his time at Dortmund. With the Klopp approach, growing pains were inevitable. The football wasn’t always electric, the results often left fans wanting and injuries began to pile-up as Liverpool’s fixture list grew ever more hectic due to their cup runs.

Despite these difficulties, the German remained a beacon of positivity, dragging the club through these rough periods and rousing the Anfield crowd from their slumber when the so-called ‘lesser’ sides came to town. On one occasion, Klopp endured much derision for his display of gratitude toward the Kop following a 2-2 draw at home to West Brom in December 2015. Having rescued a point thanks to a late, deflected equaliser from Divock Origi, the manager led his players as they applauded the fans for their support in a game that the Reds likely would have lost under Brendan Rodgers. Many saw this as a sorry reflection of how the mighty Liverpool had fallen, celebrating a point at home against a mid-table side. The naysayers failed to acknowledge this gesture as emblematic of the positivity that Klopp was trying to instil into a fan-base prone to looking down, rather than up. The draw against West Brom meant little in terms of Liverpool’s final position at the end of the season, but the warm appreciation shown all-round after the final whistle marked an important step in the progression of the mood around Anfield.

The foundations laid by Klopp in his early months in charge have played an important role in the improved fortunes of the club over the past year. Without solidifying the supporters’ belief in the side, performances like the Europa League quarter final display against Borussia Dortmund would not have been possible. Lovren’s late goal may have been far more important than Origi’s strike against West Brom, but both moments exemplified the enduring belief which was sorely absent in the latter stages of Rodgers’ reign. Things aren’t perfect on Merseyside by any means. Despite impressive runs in the League Cup and the Europa League last year, Liverpool’s league position after thirty-eight games left a lot to be desired.

This season has started brightly, with the Reds looking one of the most electrifying attacking sides in the Premier League. Some of the old flaws still remain, however. Klopp’s men still seem incapable of breaking down those sides which park the bus, evidenced against Manchester United on Monday night, and the nervous energy which has permeated the defence for some years still remains despite Simon Mignolet’s relegation to the bench. There are still problems for Klopp to solve at Anfield, but it is undeniable that ‘The Normal One’ is well on his way to transforming the doubters into believers.

 

Shane Croghan is a writer of fiction, nonfiction and everything in between. Based in Galway, he has recently completed a degree in Film & Documentary Studies at GMIT. As a Liverpool fan, he firmly believes that ‘next year is our year’.


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