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
|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
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
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."