By Matthew Amalan (@MagicMatthewz)
2015 can be considered a year of repetition for Liverpool. Results haven’t been good enough and another manager was sacked. Jürgen Klopp has been welcomed but results haven’t drastically improved either. Recent performances against Newcastle, West Brom and Watford dissolve the euphoria surrounding the away wins against Chelsea, Man City and Southampton. It’s clear that Liverpool still have a lot of work to do. In this article I will highlight 4 New Year resolutions Liverpool must make in order to take strides forward.
Relieve the pressure off the manager and the players
Jürgen Klopp has come in and suddenly expectations seem more likely to be met. Rightly so, considering what Klopp achieved at Borussia Dortmund. But, Liverpool have to be realistic. Klopp isn’t a magician to pull a trick overnight. Well, at least that’s not how he did it with Dortmund. Klopp needs time to get his methods across, and neither did he have a pre-season with Liverpool to do so.
The media are going to do what they do, but the board and the fans should not impose any unrealistic targets for the club this season. In fact, Liverpool should do away with it this time round. Let the manager and the players be given the freedom to play and take each game as it comes. Allow them to write their own fate come late May.
But no expectations doesn’t mean that Liverpool will lack the motivation or the drive to win games. It’s just that too high an expectation can cause unnecessary pressure that can hinder performances. Jürgen Klopp is an ambitious pragmatist, he wants to win every game but also knows his side currently aren’t good enough to win them all. His ambitious pragmatism would strike the right mix of balance required to make progress in this transitional period. Liverpool shouldn’t put too much pressure on their tightrope stuntmen, especially halfway through the act.
Back Jürgen Klopp in the transfer market
It seems straightforward isn’t it, when a club isn’t doing well enough, they should dip into the transfer market? But, that doesn’t necessary lead to success and Liverpool know that well through their horrendous experience with recent transfers. If you don’t believe me, ask Stewart Downing, Andy Caroll, Fabio Borini, Paul Konchesky, Milan Jovanovic, Christian Poulsen, Oussama Assaidi, Iago Aspas or Sebastian Coates and they will tell you.
If their recent transfers haven’t gone on too well, should they be skeptical when backing Klopp in the transfer market? Well, the answer is no. Jurgen Klopp spent a total of £34.31m on Shinji Kagawa, Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundongan, Marco Reus, Neven Subotic, and Aubameyang. That is still cheaper than what Andy Caroll costed Liverpool and a gazillion times more effective!
Of course, Jürgen Klopp has had his misses too, with the likes of Ciro Immobile and possibly Henkrikh Mkhitaryan. “But it’s definitely a risk worth taking,” any statistician will tell you that. The problem with Liverpool’s transfers is not their philosophy, but getting the wrong managers to do it for them. Now they have the right one, it would no longer be considered an irrationality to show their backing.
Make the right appointments
Jordan Henderson is Jürgen Klopp’s captain. Wait, who is Jürgen Klopp’s vice-captain? He hasn’t selected one, has he? During Henderson’s absence, Milner was given the nod to lead the team. But to be honest, I’m not quite sure if James Milner will walk into the Liverpool starting eleven. He seems second to Klopp’s preferred central midfield pairing- Jordan Henderson and Emre Can. Furthermore, he should first focus on settling into his new club before taking on the responsibility to lead them. I believe Klopp should turn his attentions elsewhere. Based on recent performances, and my opinion? Dejan Lovren.
Jürgen Klopp hasn’t filled the vacant ‘first team coach’ position left by Gary McAllister. Not quite sure if it’s a ploy by Klopp to get Gerrard to train with Liverpool and then to bring him back as a coach at the end of the season when his contract ends with LA Galaxy. But if that’s the case, that’s exactly what they need. Gerrard could set the standards required to be a Liverpool player and would be able to connect the fans with the relatively new set of coaching staff. They got to make that dramatic move and prove that fairytales do exist.
Make the Kop loud again
Anfield hasn’t quite been the same place since the big European nights and more recently Liverpool’s 2013/2014 title mount season. There seems to be this eerie, fidgety silence if Liverpool do not make good starts or find themselves behind. The ghost of Anfield needs to be exorcised, it is hindering the home team’s performance and giving opposition teams room to play. It’s a double whammy.
Well, it makes sense to say if performances and results improve, the atmosphere will essentially improve. But, Liverpool fans do not want to take risks in showing their support, worried that each time they do, it might turn out irrelevant. They are not entirely wrong, in the past six seasons, Liverpool have only made it to the ‘top 4’ once and that’s not good enough for a club of Liverpool’s stature. To actualize a livelier atmosphere at Anfield, they have to start small. It’s either they start winning games there, or hope that Jürgen Klopp’s enthusiasm in the touchline creates a ripple effect around Anfield.