Jürgen Klopp joined Liverpool in October 2015 with Liverpool fans immediately taking to the German manager and what he is all about, and rightfully so. Two and a half years down the line, he has reached 100 league games transforming the club from perennial underperformers to one of the most expansive and attacking teams in Europe poised to challenge for major honours once again. A true force to be reckoned with.
While Klopp’s side were perhaps fortunate to secure three points on his 100th Premier League outing against Crystal Palace, it cemented a 54 percent win rate for the German in England’s top flight with 18 defeats alongside 28 draws. Liverpool have scored 208 league goals in Klopp’s first 100 – only Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City managed more (231). Klopp has amassed a points total in his first 100 league only second to Kenny Dalglish amongst the clubs the 125 year history.
At this juncture it’s the perfect time to look back at the highs and lows Klopp has experienced in his Liverpool career, and the progress we have seen over his 905 days on Merseyside.
Football is an unpredictable game. Anything can happen both on and off the pitch that can affect the game. With 18 defeats, Klopp has experienced a few lows during his tenure.
Jürgen Klopp’s first defeat was actually against Crystal Palace, who came to Anfield in November 2015 and snuck off with a 2-1 victory and inflicted the first real low point of the German’s reign. Klopp even said he “can’t forget this f****** loss to Crystal Palace” a few weeks later.
His second defeat came just under a month later where his side suffered a series of defeats, or what felt like defeats, before Christmas and failed to beat Newcastle, also dropping points against West Bromwich Albion and Watford.
In January 2017, during Klopp’s first full season in charge, his team suffered back-to-back dropped points against Sunderland, Manchester United, Swansea and Chelsea and that carried on over into February. Nevertheless, the team recovered well and went on to finish fourth with a Champions League qualifier between them and Europe’s greatest competition.
Just settling into his new job, Liverpool fans were treated to a glimpse of the Jürgen Klopp era – a 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium as the Reds ripped the hosts to shreds with a comfortable win. Klopp went over to the travelling Kop at full-time as they sang his name in appreciation.
Liverpool had experienced fluctuations in form under Klopp, but the craziest had to be the 5-4 victory in January 2016 away to Norwich. The hosts took the lead and were 3-1 up before Jordan Henderson made it 3-2 and put Liverpool back in the game. Firmino scored a scored just after the hour mark and then Liverpool were 4-3 up thanks to Milner. A stoppage-time equaliser earned what appeared to be a share of the spoils until Adam Lallana scored a 90+5’ winner, making the score 5-4 to Liverpool and sparked joyous celebrations. Absolute LIMBS. Lallana’s shirt was off, players ran to celebrate with the gaffer and Klopp’s glasses were knocked off and broken as a result. Arguably the best team celebration.
His first Merseyside derby will also be a game he won’t forget with an emphatic display at Anfield to put Everton to the sword. It ended 4-0 but it could have been a lot more – even Lucas Leiva had a shot!
It’s not just on the pitch where Klopp was making his mark. Some of his signings have proved to be pivotal for Liverpool, including Sadio Mané, Loris Karius, Gini Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk – all of whom are key players in Liverpool’s strongest squad.
Mo Salah is currently the league’s top goalscorer with 37 goals in 42 appearance this season – a flying start for the Egyptian’s first season with Liverpool and he’s breaking records left, right and centre! He has proved to be a brilliant signing by Klopp and for around £38m, AS Roma were robbed in broad daylight.
Andy Robertson is a good one to mention as well. A left-back we’ve been crying out for. Defends and attacks with style – had some great assists too. The best £8m Klopp could have spent – he oozes quality and suits Klopp’s style of play. Loris Karius – the current first-choice ‘keeper – is finally showing us why Klopp was adamant on replacing Mignolet with him between the sticks.
His targets are observed carefully and are well thought through before going ahead and signing them – it pays off and we would all have a lot to say if he was to ‘panic buy’.
Klopp’s most recent highlight would have to be the 4-3 victory over Manchester City at Anfield. The league’s two best attacking sides went head-to-head and the runaway Premier League leaders fell short at Anfield – their first and only league loss so far this season.
That game highlighted the quality of this Liverpool side as they extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches. Liverpool’s approach to the game caused Pep Guardiola’s side plenty of concern, yet City demonstrated their threat at times. It was a joy to watch and an important result for Liverpool – one to remember before they face City twice in the coming weeks in the Champions League quarter-final.
Progress has been made
It’s easy to measure success by the number of games won and trophies to show for it – but progress can be made by slow-and-steady improvements. There’s no wrong way. We all want to win every game NOW and be in the fight for every trophy available to us, but sometimes that doesn’t result in long-term results.
For the first time since Rafa was in charge, we are looking at back-to-back years of Champions League qualification. That is huge, believe it or not. When you consider a club with Liverpool’s history and stature it may not seem like a great achievement, but considering there was a dark period following Benitez’s departure and times were pretty bleak – we’ve come a long way since then.
Before Klopp, there were many problems the club was facing. Despite losing Fernando Torres, Liverpool signed Luis Suarez. They won the League Cup. They didn’t qualify for Europe but things were on the up, right? Wrong. Who was to know that would be the last trophy Liverpool would win. Six years ago. When we did qualify for Europe, the squad lacked the quality to progress. Talents like Suarez and Sterling left as much by the club’s inability to challenge for major honours as the wealth of riches being offered elsewhere.
But when you look at the club now, you can really see the change. Transfer lists have been shortened and the bench is filled with decent players, with competition at almost all positions keeping the players determined and focused.
Klopp has brought us into an era of hope and I can’t wait to see where he can take us.