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Jurgen Klopp - is he really all that?
As we come to the end of this week, there have been several graphics and statistics thrown about showing Jurgen Klopp’s record in his time as Liverpool manager. Memes have been rife showing a smiling Brendan Rodgers compared to an angry Klopp as he has a slightly better winning percentage after the same amount of games. Even the disastrous tenure of David Moyes at bitter rivals Manchester United had a better win rate than the charismatic German at the Reds. A defeat at Leicester in the Carabao Cup has only worsened Klopp’s record but quite surprisingly, fans of the great club are starting question whether he is the right person to manage the club. People have also said that Klopp has been given an easy ride because of his funny interviews and passion, that is clear to see on the touchline every game. However, is the criticism this early in the season justified?
Now, I can already hear several irate Liverpool fans screaming at their computer, saying that the problem has not just been this season. The defensive issues Liverpool face have been analysed to death this week. Obviously, there are issues with the way Liverpool play defensively, but they are not the only team with concerns. The league leaders, Manchester City, have had their hands full of defensive errors over the last year and serious questions were asked of Pep Guardiola’s qualities. Even though they are scoring for fun and condemned Liverpool to a heavy defeat, there are still mistakes brewing to happen at some point or another. Therefore, the perception of Liverpool suddenly being in dire straights is simply not justified and fans must have patience. The fact that Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have started out of the blocks like Usain Bolt also has something to do with the sombre mood around Anfield at the moment. Despite all of the negative feelings, it must not be forgotten that just a few weeks ago they destroyed Arsenal 4-0 at their own patch. Chelsea last year started poorly but then went on an incredible run to put distance between themselves and the rest of the Premier League. While it does not seem that Liverpool can overhaul the clubs from Manchester, it would not be the biggest surprise if they do.
An interesting statistic popped up on social media this week. Throughout the seasons that Klopp has managed football clubs, the average league position he has finished in is a miserly 10th. This statistic is impacted massively by his time managing Mainz, who he got promoted into the Bundesliga so we cannot take this statistic at face value. Just like that statistic, we cannot take the current situation he faces at Liverpool at face value. When he took over the job in October 2015, his reputation brought expectations that were unjustified for a club that had never won the Premier League. Of course, since they have such a rich history and a magnificent fanbase, they are always expected to challenge and have on a few occasions. But, the rebuilding job Klopp had when he arrived at Liverpool was probably understated and is going to maybe take a few more years. The Anfield faithful should take solace in the fact that Klopp has dealt with a club like this before. The position of reinvigorating “sleeping giants” is what he did at Borrusia Dortmund. The fact that he took three years to deliver the league title at Dortmund cannot be compared to the Premier League because of the number of teams who are able to win the ultimate crown come May. Therefore, it may take more time, but there should still be hope that the Premier League title can have a new home at Liverpool.
Furthermore, the attacking brand of football has been a breath of fresh air to see in England. But journalists and some fans alike feel that this has tinted the glasses of the public when in actual fact, results have been rather disappointing. Again however, we are missing the point of what this manager is trying to do. To instil his beliefs about the way games should be played takes time to become a reality. Short term results are arguably easier to achieve, but a sustained period of brilliance is far more difficult to attain. If you are able to achieve both like Mourinho and Guardiola have done time and again in their career, then you really are the king. The obsession over results and the scrutiny the press is putting Klopp under is just another punctuation mark in the English mentality that is not built for long term greatness. It may be that Klopp ultimately fails in his time at Liverpool, but the club must make sure he is given the time and space to make his magic and charisma work to the optimum level.
So, Liverpool are apparently in dire straights and are well on their way to becoming one of the worst teams in the league. Come on people, take your blinkers off and realise that Liverpool can very easily turn this around with their inspirational coach at the helm.