Upon the advent of a new Premier League season, doubts have again been invoked against the quality and position of our renowned club Liverpool. With recent performances stagnating, involving an opening day 3-3 draw at the hands of Watford, a 5-0 massacre at the Etihad and a string of dull draws, some previous fans of Jurgen Klopp have called for his head in hope of promoting the club’s American owners FSG into their first success at Liverpoool. Yet despite banners of ‘Klopp Out’ being waved at the Kop end, what many fail to understand is that the German began his reign at Dortmund in the same manner. His first 100 games in charge at the Westfalenstadion yielded similar results to his first 100 at Anfield. If trophies galore are to return then we must give him time and show our patience, not our temper.
From the moment the German set foot upon Merseyside soil, fans sensed a stir in the Kop. Fresh from success at Dortmund, Klopp, who hailed himself as the ‘Normal One’ promised fans that the Premier league trophy would return to Anfield within 4 seasons. Since those fateful two years ago, Liverpool have finished 8th and 4th in the league table, with poor form in the FA Cup and defeat in the Europa League final. Similarly, in his first 100 games at Dortmund, his team finished 5th and 6th respectively with no trophies to show for there ambition and vigour either. Under his rule after 100 games Liverpool have only 50 wins to their name whilst Dortmund had 52. As average as this seems, there are positives here even if there is no silverware to show for it. The key changes occurred at Dortmund after the first 100 games, where the team kicked on by blowing away their opponents with well over 100 goals per season, despite still conceding a fair few. If Liverpool fans and as such Klopp-sceptics can hold their tongues, they may see a similar trophy haul return to Anfield. During his last 2 years at the German club, Klopp saw an upward rise in victories and quality of performances, winning back to back Bundesliga titles as well as making it to the champions league final; they lost by narrow margins to Guardiola’s Bayern Munich.
The question that all ‘Klopp-Out’ fans have been asking is whether he can mimic his success in Germany here at Merseyside. Granted, the team’s performances have been sporadic, but they do point to a general improvement in all aspects of their game. The issue that seems to be featuring in their current play is a lack of consistency in the final third, something Dortmund excelled at and was a vital contributor to their title achievements. During last season, Liverpool scored 37 goals in 25 games post-January in comparison to 60 in the final 25 games of 2016; evidence of their lack of productivity up front. This seems particularly confusing, as a front four featuring Salah, Coutinho, Firmino and Mane should have enough attacking prowess to solve any goal-related issues Klopp could ever have, but that does not seem to be the case. On the other hand whilst a high-quality offence is vital, so is a competent defence. Liverpool’s performances across the season have been blighted by poor defensive play as well as some dodgy goalkeeping. They have conceded an average of nearly 2 goals a game- a mouthwatering prospect for any team visiting Anfield. Despite issues like these occurring at Dortmund with the team conceding as many goals as Liverpool, the cohesive attacking unit of Reus and Aubemeyeng seemed fitting enough for the rest of the team to follow suit. Although the ‘we’ll-score-more-goals-than-you’ approach has worked under the German, he is yet to see it blossom into success at Liverpool.
Yes, it’s frustrating to see a team you root for lose or draw in games they are expected to win, but this should not be a reflection of the manager’s ability to reap success. Klopp has stated that he is ‘not one for quitting’ and his feats at Dortmund and Mainz have proved that he can lead Liverpool back to mimicking the successes of their past. If he can alleviate his defensive frailties or resolve the scoring-drought he’ll be on his way to bringing trophies back to Anfield. A word of advice for ‘Klopp-Out’ fans? Whatever has happened in his first 100 games should be seen as merely the foundations towards a successful end product, what matters, and has had mattered in the past, is the next 100.