SINCE joining Liverpool in October 2015, German coach Jurgen Klopp has transformed the Reds into becoming a competitive outfit that their faithful are purring and believing again. Not entirely otherworldly, some remarkable progress and improvement can be noted about the Anfield side, however. From being rank outsiders on both the domestic and continental front, the former English and European champions have thrust themselves back into the frame — playing the Champions League final last season and, as pacesetters, presently are firmly in the picture for their first Premiership coronation this term. Naturally, Klopp’s reign has had its hits and misses; especially the current campaign and in particular this past week.
From the high of ending the first half of the season without losing a league game, Liverpool crashed to a low of surrendering their unbeaten start after a defeat to defending champions Manchester City; although they still enjoy a four-point cushion at the apex.
Still smarting from that setback, they reeled out of the FA Cup as Walverhampton Wanderers compounded their misery with another giant-slaying act and knockout blow.
Do these two successive defeats in two important assignments snap and sap the zest in the Liverpool dugout? Does it leave their campaign at crossroads?
Because the last thing that Klopp and his men ill-afforded was ending their interest in the knockout tournament after seeing their title tilt suffer a knock at the hands of their closest rivals. Because while the league defeat allowed City to run them close in the championship race, the cup loss to Wolves ruined their quest for the fabled treble.
Thus the log leaders’ reverse on their visit to Etihad demanded a roaring reaction, a perfect response at Molineux so as to gather their mojo back and get some momentum going again in hot pursuit of their first Premiership and top-flight league title since 1990 as well as a return to the podium which last came with a League Cup triumph in 2012. Grinding out a positive result against Wolves would have stemmed the losing tide and immediately replenished their buoyancy.
Not that Liverpool did not have to lose both matches in question, but it is the impact and repercussions it could have on their campaign.
And given the Merseysiders’ niggling and frustrating protracted trophy drought, dragging themselves as far as they can get and lasting longest in any competition, therefore, becomes imperative.
For a trophy, any cup, is now due at Anfield. Without essentially putting pressure on the team and the coach, it is high time Liverpool started clinching silverware so that they galvanise some fortitude that creates a winning mentality.
The reds need to get used to winning trophies and have it become an enduring tradition, which has long deserted them.
And every tournament they compete in becomes important. The German tactician concedes as much. “I don’t know what he means with that, to be honest.
We have to play football . . . that’s our job that we do the best we can do in all these games.
That’s what we try. I don’t know exactly what it means but to focus on one competition can only be if maybe you are already out of the competition nearly . . . It doesn’t work like this,” he was quoted as responding to Gary Neville after the former Manchester United captain had suggested that Klopp and his charges needed to sacrifice other competitions, especially the Champions League, in order to solely concentrate on the Premiership race.
Curiously, among the current crop of players only a handful, among which include James Milner (Manchester City), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Mohamed Salah (Basel and Chelsea), Sadio Mane (Red Bull Salzburg) and Virgil van Dijk (Celtic), have had gold medals, interestingly, elsewhere away from Liverpool and the coach has to psyche the rest up for their first trophy together as a group at Anfield.
That Klopp has lost all three major finals (League Cup, Europa League and Champions League) finals he has contested in with Liverpool has not helped matters either.
That said, this is Klopp’s third full season in charge; buy which time he had projected that silverware will start trickling in at Anfield.
Can Jurgen get jogging again? Will the Klopp keep ticking? Shall the Kop get klopping?
Meanwhile, we, the Kopites, walk on with hope in our hearts because we will never walk alone; not ever!
If it is about football that you care let’s share the cheer because we are made for the game, mad about the game!
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