by Ernie Fox
As a lifelong Liverpool fan it’s impossible to comprehend talking of anything other than Klopp from this week’s events. Despite the fact Wales and Northern Ireland have successfully qualified for next summer’s European Championships and England are just one win away from a perfect qualifying campaign; Klopp is the only thing on my mind right now, and with good reason.
Everybody seems to be in love with the charismatic German; the press, the fans, former players, pundits, even Alex Ferguson has declared his backing for Klopp being a success at Anfield. I don’t remember a managerial appointment being met with so much enthusiasm in the past, but then this is no ordinary man.
Klopp represents something we have been missing for the last few years, something that previously saw the club rise above the others time and time again. It is all very well adopting whichever football philosophy you fancy, whether you want to retain possession, play a high tempo passing game, or sit back and catch the opposition on a quick paced counter attack; over the years we’ve seen them all but it is no one style that has been prevalent throughout the glory days. At times we have lost our soul, the very heartbeat of the club, and that has been the truth behind our failings.
What will Klopp do differently to his predecessors? If he performs anything like he did when he led Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title, Klopp will reignite Anfield with a passion that has been missing these last few years. If these last couple of days are anything to go by, Klopp will have the Kop singing with so much enthusiasm, the goals will practically score themselves. It is what made this club great.
There were a number of reasons I supported Rodgers’ reign for so long. I was optimistic about his footballing philosophy, his use of youth players in the first team, and the prospect of a long term manager seeing through generations of players with a clear and defined style and formation; but with hindsight I must confess that we were always lacking something. When it came to the big games, we often looked nervous and uncomfortable on the ball, the Kop would become quiet and disgruntled, the atmosphere at Anfield was far from a fortress.
In the end we had to accept the very basic principle, that Liverpool football club wasn’t built on a continental approach of Tika Taka or Total Football. Liverpool’s success was built on a passionate support and desire to be the best; whatever we want from our team, we can’t forget that.
And so we return to the current day; Klopp has suggested that we could be Premier League champions within four years and I genuinely believe he could be right. Why not? We have a decent enough squad, some very good first team players and decent youngsters to add depth to the squad. What we really need is some direction and momentum, and that is exactly what Klopp brings.
But I do have some minor concerns around the appointment, as much as I believe Klopp will be a success, that success will come at a price. Klopp’s enthusiasm is infectious but how do we go about ensuring any success he brings to the club isn’t short lived? I think we need to ensure that with Klopp there is a plan of succession, one that can ensure that the club continues to progress long after the German leaves. What we don’t want is to find ourselves in a position where we stumble from manager to manager waiting for the next genius to arrive who can once again reinvigorate the Kop.
Personally, I hope that former Kop favourites Gerrard or Fowler might have a place in the back room staff, learn from Klopp just how to get the best out of the team, and not just the players but the fans as well. If they can then we will have a legacy that could survive generations and maintain this club’s position amongst the best in the game.
Of course I am getting ahead of myself, Klopp is yet to preside over his first game and I’m already discussing his successor; but at a club like Liverpool we can’t solely live in the moment, this club is an institution, a way of life for millions around the world, and as such we have to consider both short term and long term prospects.
Having said that, this week has been a fantastic week for the club, one to celebrate. We have captured one of the world’s top managers, and one whose brand of football will delight the fans. In the end that has to be the most important part of the game, to give the fans something to support, something worthy of the hard earnt wages that go towards paying for each and every ticket. We have sent a message out to the Premier League as well as the rest of European football; right now everybody in the game is talking about Liverpool and Klopp – let’s keep it that way.
Written by Ernie Fox