A belated reflection of a year of Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool

A belated reflection of a year of Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool

It is hard to remember life without Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool but what will be remembered is the impact he had in his first year.

Cameron Hogwood

Many will argue it was never entirely a case of ‘turning doubters to believers’ and I’m sure the very manager who promised such a feat upon his arrival at Liverpool has witnessed a greater sense of, previously hidden, optimism than first expected.

What was required, however, was the right man to help unveil and unleash the belief that has always been there for Liverpool fans but the belief that has been hard to express during some frustrating years. 

Of course doubts have crept in during some tough times, but not doubts capable of unhinging the belief amongst Liverpool fans that, deep down, this club can achieve great things once again.

October 8 marked a year of Jürgen Klopp as manager of Liverpool football club and a year in which one special man has provided substance to the previously dormant belief of those connected to this team.

Rarely can an entire group of supporters say they have taken to cherish a new manager as quickly as Reds fans have with Klopp. It has become far too easy to overlook what strikes many as a destined and long awaited union between both a unique club and coach.

Not only has Klopp inspired this team, but we as fans have inspired him to acknowledge we are greater believers than he thought and that we are worthy of the efforts to try and take Liverpool back to the top.

The decision for fans to leave early in last season’s game against Crystal Palace represented doubts visibly tip-toeing in, yet doubts quickly answered by Klopp as he challenged these early departures in a manner that subtly reinvigorated a feeling of ‘fight to the very end’ amongst the Liverpool faithful.

Message received. The fans began to come back in force and Anfield gradually started to rediscover its roar. A few months down the line, in an unforgettable Europa League tie against Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool’s famous home produces what Klopp described as the best atmosphere he has ever experienced - signs of things truly coming together.

The German doesn’t care, and hasn’t cared since arriving on Merseyside, what people think of his exuberance and has no reason to worry about what his own fans think. All of them respect and adore him.

While the rest of the league mocked Klopp and his players for applauding the Kop after a 2-2 draw against West Brom, Liverpool fans took note. It was different, a sign that things were going to be okay, a sign that an identity was beginning to force through and a reminder that the fans are part of helping this club towards success.

It almost disbanded Liverpool from the rest of the league for a moment and, even if few took it seriously, posed as a warning that this group of players were very much together and playing under the guidance of a man who is determined to move forward.

Klopp’s presence alone when stepping out for his first game in charge in a solid draw away against Spurs was enough for people to take note, but it has come to be so much more than that now.

German really turning things around on L4

He has taken the set up during Brendan Rodgers’ reign and has put his stamp on it within a year. Aside from his work on the training ground and methods on the pitch, he has ruthlessly shaped the club’s transfer policy and has reincorporated the passion amongst supporters into Liverpool’s identity.

His management has seen him move a large group of players onto other clubs during the transfer windows without being critcised for mistreatment, creating a solid set up all the way through to the youth teams and leaving a group of players that he very clearly values.

The time he has dedicated to doing so and, in turn, educating himself to know each of his club’s youth prospects demonstrates his commitment to Liverpool.

There is a respect there for all affiliated with the club and even those categorised as the supposed ‘deadwood’ that he decided were surplus to requirements in the summer.

Klopp has refused to shift from the ideologies he knows and believes in. The signings of Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Joel Matip were methodical and in opposition to the tendency for big Premier League clubs to spend large amounts of money on the so-called big names.

He very blatantly looked to address the lack of speed, goals from midfield and defensive frailties with this trio of signings while elsewhere he guaranteed much needed competition for the starting goalkeepers spot with the arrival of Loris Karius.

Specific necessities, all of which he had the final say on.

Fans have also been treated to a master class in man management on his part.

Klopp can take huge credit for the way he has eased Daniel Sturridge back towards full fitness, helping Liverpool’s star striker regain the physical ability that has enabled him to feature from the off this season.

Bad memories of Rodgers playing Sturridge up front with Mario Balotelli in an away Europa League tie against Besiktas just a week or so after he returned from an injury lay-off, have been buried in the past.

Klopp knew just how to deal with the injury-stricken star.

Aside from this, the expansion of Anfield couldn’t have come at a better time. It has coincided with the explosive attacking football the manager has implemented this season, in portraying a sense of progression.

Klopp's job far from done, and he knows that

The message from the manager this week was very clearly that there is more to come.

More to come from a Liverpool side that has secured away victories against Arsenal and Chelsea, taken a point away from White Hart Lane, thrashed the champions Leicester and frightened Manchester United enough for Jose Mourinho to park his bus on the Anfield turf.

United’s defensive approach to Monday’s game was a sign of the times - Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool are considered a threat.

The way Klopp has applied his tactics and the way he seems to have realised both his strongest formation and starting eleven, is underrated. Reds fans can acknowledge that his managerial decisions are far more intelligent than he gets credit for.

He knows what he is doing and knows how he wants his side to move forward.    

This reflection does, albeit, come a couple of weeks after the weekend in which fans celebrated one year of Jürgen Klopp, but it also comes at a time when things have blown over and where life under the German has become second nature.

The fans deserve a successful year, so let’s hope Klopp and his men can take some strides towards making that happen sooner rather than later.