Don’t be so foolish as to think there is anyone better equipped or quite frankly as capable of fixing things at Anfield than Jurgen Klopp. He is the man for Liverpool Football Club.
In Klopp’s most testing period as a manager, take strength from the fact both he and his team are being forced to learn. In a time where the Reds are a shade of the explosive force that took the Premier League by storm, take optimism from the idea that they have something new to fight for. Top four at the end of the season or not, this is a struggle they needed and Klopp’s first serious, yet also valuable, exposure to what English football is truly all about. An already world class manager finds himself in a position where he is having to develop his approach by the day. Think of the possibilities.
Fans in this country can be emphatic, they can be an extra driving force but they can also be ruthless and sometimes even painfully fickle. For all Klopp has strived to unearth ‘that famous Anfield atmosphere’, nothing has changed and nothing will change between now and the end of the season. Toothless ‘fans’ calling for Klopp’s head amidst this recent struggle plague the terraces at the moment- terraces that can still be electric but have been stunned into a state of panic. A rocking and united Liverpool faithful is nowhere to be seen and it’s time the manager gets on with things without them. They will return to fight in good time and alongside those that admittedly deserve credit for their continued support.
Heads dropped again after the defeat to Hull with most, including neutrals, seemingly writing off Liverpool’s top four chances and perhaps that isn’t a bad thing. A regression bearing the crisis tag was greeted with initial ridicule but has since demoted Liverpool to being a team supposedly few have to worry about. A revival in the shadows is where Klopp can shine again. It’s an opportunity for him to experiment and truly distinguish between those who simply benefited from the passion he implemented and those that can carry this team forward. It’s the chance to threaten the places of first team regulars and identify who exactly he can build this team around.
Liverpool were due falling into a state of emergency but fans should take comfort from the fact it has come now. No one was overcoming the might of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea this season and his undeniable excellence is the pedestal Klopp and the rest of English football can take inspiration from. It takes a less spectacular approach to be successful, sometimes. That isn’t to say the attacking intensity and the excitement that Klopp’s methods demand should be abandoned because when they work, the German’s side are the most enticing to watch in the division. That’s the point though- when it works.
Injuries, a packed schedule and a lack of signings have for some time over the past month disguised a dramatic dip in form from every single player. This team’s failure to learn reeks of insanity in a way that has reignited concern over the lack of world class talent Klopp has at his disposal. Teams will always sit back against the Reds between now and the end of the season, but not out of fear in the way they would during the early stages of the campaign. A now consistent failure to break down tight back lines hasn’t been fixed by the players and re-emerging defensive frailties are being taken advantage of on the counter-attack.
The nature of the Premier League requires an immediate response or adjustment when things go wrong. Five games without a win marks things going wrong. Liverpool’s spark has disappeared and frustration amongst those connected to the club is fuelled by the players looking clueless as to what to do with the ball in the final third. This group should not be running out of ideas and neither should the manager. The thought of new ideas, though, is what fans should relish in this difficult period.
Not only is Klopp’s well-known ability to motivate his players being called into question but so are his qualities as a tactician. It is down to him to come up with something different. A new formation, a new line-up, a new game strategy. This so called ‘plan b’ has to become ‘plan a’ for the time being if Liverpool are to continue fighting for a Champions League place. It is up to Klopp to justify his lack of signings in January and prove he has the imagination and the creativity to find a way of getting results from his players again. This was a downfall that a long-term project was always going to entail, especially with a Liverpool squad that is nowhere near as strong as that of their top six rivals. Discovering a ‘plan b’ at this point is sure to save the Reds from falling into a similar situation later on during Klopp’s reign.
Here is the message to the fans. Keep the faith. There are no worries over keeping the most valuable players at the club in the summer. The entire focus can be on strengthening this squad and unveiling a new dimension but by no means a replacement for Klopp’s current style. Liverpool have to come back as a more solid outfit and can’t afford not to following what promises to be a busy transfer window.
This isn’t a transition period but a potentially decisive moment in Klopp’s time at Anfield. This is about him ensuring he remains a believer and not a doubter. It is his resilience being tested to a greater extent than ever before and it is his footballing intelligence and versatility that fans are about to see exercised. He is the kind of man this club has waited for, so enough of the ‘Klopp out’ demands. Expectations are understandably high and explain the current discontent but a drastic slump like this can be a potentially vital learning curve for the entire club.
The next few months promise to show everyone exactly what Klopp is made of. A response is needed and it’s for that reason that Liverpool fans must be patient again. Stand by, it’s going to get interesting.