Commentary

Two years into the Klopp era, Liverpool has yet to break through

The second anniversary of what some Liverpool supporters believed was tantamount to the Second Coming falls on Saturday, when the club hosts Manchester United.



Two years ago to the day, the club named Juergen Klopp to replace manager Brendan Rodgers, who steered Liverpool to second place in his second season (2013-14) but had since fallen off the pace.

During Klopp’s tenure of 75 games, Liverpool has been tough against the top clubs but inconsistent otherwise. Overall, his win percentage does not match up to that of his predecessor, Rafael Benitez, who guided the club to its last major trophy, the Champions League, in 2005:
 
Liverpool managers (1998-2017)

Manager Tenure Wins percentage
Juergen Klopp 2015-2017 50.67 (first 75 games)
Brendan Rogers 2012-2015 54.67 (first 75 games)
Rafael Benitez 2004-2010 54.67 (first 75 games)
Gerard Houllier 1998-2004 48.0 (first 75 games)
Kenny Dalglish 2011-2012 42.86 (56 games)
Roy Hodgson 2010-2011 35.0 (20 games)

  
While the rambunctious and ebullient Klopp, 50, has certainly captivated the fans and inspired his players, he has not sufficiently resolved those issues that were prevalent when he arrived. The defense is suspect, goalkeeping is a tossup between Simon Mignolet and one of Klopp’s acquisitions, Loris Karius, and his efforts to rebuild were delayed when RB Leipzig refused to sell Naby Kieta until next summer.

Liverpool is seventh, seven points behind co-leaders Manchester City and Manchester United. The free-flowing attack instituted by Klopp and propelled by Sadio Mane and Mo Salah has produced 13 goals in seven matches, but Liverpool has conceded 12. City and United have each allowed just two, third-place Tottenham five, and fourth-place Chelsea six.

Mane suffered a hamstring injury playing for Senegal against Cape Verde last weekend and will miss the United match.

Shaky play by centerbacks Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan is a constant concern exacerbated by Liverpool’s mucking up of a deal for Southampton mainstay Virgil van Dijk. A move for him broke down in June amid allegations he’d been illegally approached by Klopp, who had texted van Dijk directly in violation of FIFA and Premier League rules.

Liverpool can re-bid for van Dijk in January but given Southampton’s reluctance to let him go and the fact Keita will cost about $80 million next summer, the price may be too much.

“Liverpool will only make the big improvements by buying better players,” said former Liverpool star Jan Molby to BBC Sport. “But most Liverpool fans believe that in 12 months they will have a top midfield player in Keita and a top centre-half in Van Dijk - that will automatically improve them again.”
Lurking just beyond the horizon for Klopp and Liverpool is the spectre of Bayern Munich, which has hired Jupp Heynckes as interim manager to replace Carlo Ancelotti until next year, when it will likely list Klopp among its long-term candidates.

Klopp shown he can send out prepared, productive teams against top opposition. In 23 matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, and Everton during Klopp’s tenure Liverpool has won 12, tied nine, and lost only two. It finished eighth in his first season and improved to fourth last year to end two seasons without European play.

“I think there is such a focus on Champions League that top four [in the Premier League] is enough,” said Molby. “For the fans it's not, because you watch other teams going to Wembley and winning trophies, but I don't think Klopp is necessarily under pressure to win a trophy.

“Klopp also has the huge personality Liverpool fans like. We live in an era where personalities are so important, so to have a big personality doesn't hinder him - in fact I think it's a massive help."
4 comments about "Two years into the Klopp era, Liverpool has yet to break through".
  1. C Stephans, October 13, 2017 at 9:31 p.m.

    Maybe they should fire him and bring in Bruce Arena...that sure worked well for the USMNT.

  2. Gus Keri, October 14, 2017 at 5:35 a.m.

    Liverpool has not won the EPL since 1990 becasue they have been a seller club. Every time they reach good level, they sell their best players. Examples include Suarez, Torres, Alonso and Mascherano. This is the first season where they are trying to keep their star players, maily Coutinho. But they need to spend much more than what they have done so far. They will only compete with the Manchester clubs and Chelsea when they start spending like them. The story of Liscester City is not going to happen again in decades.

  3. I w Nowozeniuk, October 14, 2017 at 9:03 p.m.

    I'm not moved by your opinion Ridge...great teams acquire players that fit the system, unlike Liverpool which refuses to take risks with expensive talent on the transfer list.

  4. frank schoon, October 15, 2017 at 11:09 a.m.

    Klopp is an improvement over the previous Liverpool coach. But he is too much of a  run and gun , foam on the mouth type of soccer coach. He would be a good fit for an MLS team.

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