Jurgen Klopp is one of football’s most beloved characters, rightly or wrongly. His charisma immediately endeared him to the media and the fans as he arrived on our shores to take the reigns at Anfield, and its earned him the luxury of a blind eye being turned to his failures.
Klopp arrived at a sinking ship; a squad in a mess and only good enough to finish eighth in his first season in charge of the club. He’s followed that by getting the five-times champions of Europe back into the Champions League, with back-to-back fourth placed finishes.
His biggest achievement has undoubtedly been getting the Reds to the final of this year’s Champions League, where they were beaten by Gareth Bale’s wonder-goal and a disaster class from goalkeeper Loris Karius. However, two-and-a-half trophy-less seasons have seen the club win just one honour since 2006.
There are definite successes from his time at the club. The style of play has been fantastic to watch, it’s a team that promises entertainment. Although it counts for nothing if you lose, Klopp has been able to lift the Anfield crowd off their seats on a weekly basis with his sides attacking football.
Klopp has managed to deal with the sale of his best player, Phillippe Coutinho, for well over £100 million to Barcelona. While this served to pad out their net spend statistics, it drastically enhanced the first-team. Switching to a flatter three-man midfield improved the balance of the team, and helped unleash Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and more crucially, Mohamed Salah.
(Liverpool fans before Champions League tie against Manchester City.)
The Egyptian has broken all kind of records in his first season on Merseyside, and although it ended in heartbreak, he’s undoubtedly the bargain of the year. Add to this the success story of Virgil Van Dijk, the world’s most expensive defender. He has transformed their defence to look relatively solid nowadays, when before it was an absolute calamity.
If you measured success on squad harmony and play-style, Klopp would be the most sought-after coach in the world. It doesn’t work like that, though. The German has lost each of his last six cup finals, and that’s a mentality problem. His team have often been underdogs, but six on the bounce is a horrendous record. He needs to be more ruthless in the transfer market, it’s been evident that Karius isn’t good enough for a long time and he was never replaced, and it cost the Reds the Champions League.
For Klopp to leave an indelible mark on Anfield, he needs to win a trophy. It’s all well and good playing pretty football, but it counts for nothing when you’re winning as many trophies as Watford and Bournemouth.