Liverpool is reaping the benefits of faith

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. Picture: getty
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. Picture: getty

When Jürgen Klopp took over as manager at Liverpool in October 2015, the club was in the midst of a barren spell.

From 1998 to 2010, the club had enjoyed a successful period under Gérard Houllier and Rafael Benítez, winning the FA Cup twice, the Champions League, the Uefa Cup, the Uefa Super Cup, the League Cup (twice), the Community Shield and the Charity Cup.

In the five years that followed, the club employed three coaches – Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers – but none of them brought any silverware, with the 2012 League Cup the only success.

When Rodgers was sacked in 2015 after a 1-1 draw in the Merseyside derby against Everton, the club turned to Germany for a new coach, hiring Klopp, who had left Borussia Dortmund a few months earlier.

But if fans thought Klopp would bring instant success, they were sadly mistaken.

Although he had won the Bundesliga twice with Dortmund, Klopp was also known as a coach who took his teams far, but failed to clear the final hurdle. With Dortmund, he twice lost the German Cup and the Super Cup, lost the Champions League final and twice finished runner-up in the Bundesliga.

And that was how he started with Liverpool. Losing the League Cup final and the Europa League final in 2016 and the Champions League final last year.

The club, however, kept their faith in him, even after giving up a comfortable seven-point lead at the start of the year to finish second in the Premier League, one point behind title winners Manchester City.

All of that changed on June 1, when Klopp saw his team triumph against Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the final of the Champions League.

And, on Wednesday, they added a further feather to their cap when they secured a penalty shoot-out win against Chelsea in the Uefa Super Cup.

Klopp has already firmly established himself as one of the best coaches, not only for Liverpool, but arguably in the world.

Unsurprisingly, he made the short list for the Fifa world coach of the year award. and he will be taking the Liverpool squad to the Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar in December.

However, as happy as all of that makes Liverpool supporters, they are longing for the one thing that has eluded them for so long – the Premier League title.

Of the 15 players who featured against Chelsea on Wednesday in Istanbul, only two – goalkeeper Adrian and midfielder James Milner – were born when the Reds last won the league title. That was in the 1989/90 season, when it was not yet called the Premier League.

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Liverpool coaches and their successes

Since then, Manchester, Arsenal, Chelsea and even Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City have all managed to win the league title. Not so Liverpool, whose best performances in the Premiership have been four second places.

Just as much as Pep Guardiola is being measured by the competition Manchester City have not won – the Champions League – Klopp is being looked at in terms of the Premier League, and most Liverpool fans will gladly trade Champions League success this season for the Premier League title.

Not surprisingly, there have been rumours that Klopp has been told to focus on the league, even at the expense of cup success.

It is a claim the German has dismissed.

“Unfortunately, I am not good enough to decide that! I have to take what I can get. That is how it is,” Klopp said. “We didn’t decide last year that we would go for the Champions League and ignore the Premier League, obviously, so we just try to win the next football game.

“I am not a genius, so I have to take what I can get. Last year, thankfully, we won something and celebrated it, so now let’s carry on.”

Bringing the Premier League title to Anfield, though, would surely qualify him as a genius in the eyes of the Liverpool fans and certainly more than repay the faith the club owners have had in him.

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August 2020

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