Jurgen Klopp promised Liverpool a Premier League title within four years, two years into the German’s reign, are the Reds any closer?
WHEN Jurgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool chief two years ago, he promised a Premier League title within four years.
Following Rodgers’ claim of “judge me in three years” when he took over, many considered the German’s statement to be somewhat outlandish and ill-thought-out.
Speaking at his first press conference, two years ago this weekend, Klopp confidently predicted the feat.
He said: “If I sit here in four years, I am pretty confident we will have one title.”
Two years in, we take a look at whether Liverpool are actually any closer to ending their Premier League drought with Klopp at the helm…
What he brought to Liverpool.
KLOPP arrived in England with a reputation for implementing a “Gegenpress” style of football, chasing high up the pitch and playing at a supremely upbeat tempo.
Liverpool have certainly thrived in the German boss’ system. With quick wingers like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, as well as high work-rate stars including Adam Lallana, Klopp has the right players at his disposal.
However, with the peaks come the troughs, with Liverpool scintillating in attack, but worryingly sub-par in defence.
Since Klopp took over, no Premier League side has been involved in more goals that Liverpool (240).
The Reds have the third-most goals scored in that span (146), but have conceded a dreadful 94 times in the process.
The uptempo pace makes Liverpool fearsome in attack, with arguably the strongest front-line in England. But in defence it leaves them exposed, with few if any world-class defenders to fall back on.
SIGNINGS & TEAM:
ON that note, Liverpool’s obvious pitfall is their defensive prowess… or lack thereof.
Players such as Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno are much-maligned at Anfield, while goalkeepers Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius often inspire a feeling of dread among Reds fans.
It would seem it’s not only the supporters, but also players and the manager who fear for the defensive fragility.
Conceding goals, often following a defensive howler, has been the hallmark of Liverpool’s lack of success in recent months.
Klopp’s inability to sign Virgil van Dijk in the summer was a telling and worrying blunder.
The Dutchman, alongside Joel Matip, in the heart of defence certainly would have inspired a lot more confidence.
BACK-TO-BACK League Cup finals and a Europa League final have shown Liverpool aren’t a million miles away from getting their hands on some silverware.
However, the Reds lost all three of those games, once again displaying a lack of killer instinct needed to be the best.
Klopp also led Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table in November 2016, with the title a genuine possibility… until January.
In the opening month of this year, the Reds struggled unbelievably to fall out of the title race completely. The only silver lining for Liverpool was breaking back into the Champions League… for only the second time in the past eight years.
That is certainly no small feat either, with the strength in depth in the Premier League growing year after year.
The £5.14BILLION television rights deal signed in 2016 meant even the “smaller” clubs were able to battle it out with the best for some of the most sought-after stars.
With clubs such as Tottenham, Everton and Leicester fighting with the original “Big Four”, the battle for a place in Europe’s elite competition is more fierce than ever.
Liverpool are back in the big time for now… but it’s just one small step towards the giant leap that would be the Premier League title.
LIVERPOOL have certainly improved under Klopp in the past two years. Their style is a pure joy to watch, particularly for the neutrals. The inconsistency and lack of killer instinct for the current crop is a real concern though.
While the squad is still very Rodgers-eque, with 15 of the players used this season having been at the club under the Northern Irishman, Klopp has forced his imprint on the Reds.
Another transfer window or two – to bring in Van Dijk, Naby Keita and more to the club – and Klopp will be a very happy man. Some new faces, a little more experience for the youngsters and a big dose of much-needed confidence could certainly see Liverpool challenge for the title.
But to do so in the next two years would be a truly monumental task. Then again, if Leicester can win the Premier League having narrowly avoided relegation the season before, anything is possible in the English top flight.
One thing is for sure: Liverpool are more exciting and have vastly more potential under Klopp. Certain people suggesting the Reds should look elsewhere are just plain wrong.
Give the German some time and that passion surging through his veins will manifest itself in the players and Liverpool will win the Premier League… at last.