by Ernie Fox
I’ve been waiting so long to have a genuine reason to use those words, and finally it has happened -though sadly under a different manager to whom the phrase was usually attributed to. Nevertheless, the performance and result against Manchester City on Saturday have given good reason for Liverpool fans everywhere to feel optimistic.
We can break down our assessment of the team’s performance in a number of ways; playing three up front without a recognised out and out goal scorer, the high level pressing that has been the first obvious sign of change under the new manager, or even another impressive goalkeeping display from the once under fire Simon Mingolet. You can point to a number of things that have changed for the better already under the German but there is one thing that stands out above the others – character.
Despite our last league match ending in a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace before the international break, we came out against the Premier League leaders at their ground and gave them hell. From front to back we refused to allow City time on the ball and constantly looked for opportunities to break behind their defensive line.
The point being the striking contrast with what happened before. Under the leadership of Rodgers we badly struggled to pick up points in the big matches. Too frequently when we faced the top sides we bottled it, we looked nervous and made all manner of errors both in possession and tracking back; the infamous match against Chelsea at Anfield was possibly the most obvious occasion that happening but there were plenty of others including our dismal Champions’ League displays.
Roll on just a matter of weeks into Klopp’s reign and already we have taken points off Chelsea and Man City. We look a completely different side, sure enough we have a long way to go still and can’t expect Klopp to work miracles overnight but what he has done is install a belief back into the club, both with the players and the fans.
All of a sudden, there is a realistic possibility that we can beat anybody; that’s not to say that we will go the rest of the season unbeaten, football doesn’t work that way, but there are no games we should be afraid of.
Some would argue that the victory against Chelsea was as much down to their poor display as it was us earning the victory, but it was one of those games that Mourinho thrived on, a match he could have used to turn their season around. We had the opportunities and we took them, we were decisive and confident – we showed character.
Fast forward to the game against Man City and a completely different set of circumstances. Man City were riding high at the top of the league, they have qualified to the next round of the Champions’ League and are looking confident with their league form. Many other teams would have gone into the match expecting to play with their backs to the wall and hoping to snatch an unlikely goal, but Klopp did the opposite. Klopp sent the Reds out to win at the Etihad and they did exactly that.
Mourinho and Pellegrini are two very different managers, with two very different philosophies, at two very different clubs; but the victories against both were as equally as vital in the progress of the team. It can’t be denied that both managers have enjoyed success with their respective clubs; Chelsea and Man City are two huge scalps no matter what their current form, it took character to win both games and for once in such a long time we have actually saw it in our players. Klopp and the team achieved two very impressive victories, very different obstacles, but thoroughly deserved and wonderful signs of what we can expect to see in the future.
Next up for Klopp is to work on our form at Anfield and create a fortress that teams are scared to travel to, but for the time being, away victories against two of the pre-season title favourites can’t be bad. There is much more to come from the Reds under the leadership of Klopp, it’ll be another roller coaster season for us Liverpool fans, time to enjoy the ride.
Written by Ernie Fox