While Liverpool are faring no better in the league table since Rodger’s dismissal at the start of October, Klopp, in his three and a half months in charge has already managed to achieve something which in his three and a half years at the helm, Rodgers could not; he’s steered them to a cup final. In addition, it is important to note that the German has inherited an incohesive group of players from Dalglish and Rodgers and the notorious transfer committee which has since been beset by a seemingly never ending plague of hamstring injuries. Klopp has combated their injury woes and Benteke’s incompatibility by deploying €29 million man, Roberto Firmino (who until recently had greatly underperformed) as a striker in a front three with Adam Lallana and compatriot Phillipe Coutinho to great effect. This was showcased perhaps most notably in the Reds’ 4-1 humbling of Manchester City at Eastland’s. Coutinho has since also been sidelined. But another floundering hot prospect’s form has been restored; Jordan Ibe who offers Liverpool a thrusting threat down the left hand side.
Klopp has been vocal about Liverpool’s defeatism when falling behind and has set about reclaiming the Red’s ruthless streak that epitomised them so well during the title charge in 13/14. Since Klopp’s much revered salute to the Kop following Divock Origi’s injury time equaliser against West Brom, Liverpool have earned seven points in the last half an hour of matches, most remarkably against Arsenal and the rollercoaster against Norwich. While their defensive inadequacies clearly remain, particularly at set pieces, it must be encouraging for Reds’ supporters to find their team finding the back of the net more frequently again. Points have come from the most unlikely places like Joe Allen and Adam Lallana who are two men who quite clearly have benefited from Klopp’s terrific man management. The animated German has made players genuinely want to play for him while also re-establishing a feel good factor around the ground at Anfield.
Furthermore, Klopp seems to have stamped his authority in the club’s transfer dealings, reports suggesting this week that they’re in for Schalke defender, Joel Matip and Shaktar Donetsk attacker, Alex Teixeira. This can only be good for a side in desperate need of a restoration of cohesion and defensive leadership and discipline. Despite their high points, Liverpool have too often been vulnerable at the back. They were completely outplayed by the strength and power of Ighalo and Deeney at Watford and simply should not have allowed Wayne Rooney to find space to score the winner at Anfield. Klopp has held talks with the defenders and Mahmadou Sakho looks to be returning to his best after a spell out. But it remains to be seen whether the Reds can keep the opposition from scoring so often as we approach the final third of the season. While their hopes of forcing their way into the top four seem to have dwindled, they still remain in all three cup competitions. Attention must be turned to these avenues. Overall, Klopp has begun his tenure well. He seems to have resurrected a team, partially at least, prior to his arrival completely devoid of self-belief or ambition. From now until the rest of the season, he must look to continue to eradicate their inconsistencies and find composure at the back. If he does this, the future will be bright for the Merseysiders.
- Ally Murty, Sports Writer
This article originally appeared in Volume 29, Issue 7. Published February 2nd 2016.