Whilst Chelsea limp to their title defence, Jose Mourinho complains that the bus he so frequently parks isn’t expensive enough, and Arsenal continue to stagnate, things are looking a lot more positive at Anfield, and not just because of the recent record-breaking capture of Virgil van Dijk.
I have not written about football in quite some time, but I felt compelled to write now because of the optimism I feel at this moment. Optimism that I have not felt since that opening 20-minute demolition of Arsenal and what was to become the greatest BT advert of all time.
Before the WhatsApp group was disbanded, I, ludicrously, had to listen to one Liverpool “fan” demanding “Klopp Out” week after week, after week, after week. It was, and is, pure insanity, and despite my best efforts, said “fan” was immune to all logic and reason.
If you are unable to see what Jurgen Klopp – with backing from Fenway Sports Group to give them their credit – is building at Liverpool, then you completely fail to understand the depth and dynamics of football as a sport. Yes, of course, at its most basic level, football is a game of 90-minutes between two opposing teams of 11 players. But Liverpool are not a basic club, and Liverpool’s hierarchy know that.
They are not a club who are simply out to win a football match each week, they are club who are out to build a dynasty.
Sure, we have problems still, but who doesn’t? Aside from Manchester City it seems, every club can point to its weaknesses.
Liverpool are far too fragile still, prone to let leaks become floods (see the second game against Sevilla, 5-minutes against Arsenal); we are dropping points and drawing far too many games (see the first game against Sevilla, Everton, or any of the other remaining eight league games we have drawn already this season); our first-choice goalkeeper continues to fill me with all the confidence of a blind surgeon; and we seem to lack leaders on the pitch.
But for all this, and despite not being in a cup final and not meaningfully challenging for the Premier League title this season, I am utterly and hopelessly committed to the revolution that Chairman Klopp and his red army are enacting.
In his first six-months in charge, Klopp guided Liverpool to both the League Cup final and the Europa League final. In his first full season in charge, we finished in the top four in the Premier League for only the second time in eight seasons. And now, in his second full season in charge, we qualified for the Champions League proper, finished undefeated as winners of the group, with the second-best goal difference in the competition – bettered only by Paris St Germain, and are now, once again, in the top four in the Premier League.
In the Premier League this season, we have only lost twice – with ten-men against a near perfect Manchester City side, and with essentially ten-men thanks to Dejan Lovren’s nightmare display against Tottenham, a side who have finished second in the Premier League for the last two seasons and have the best out-and-out goalscorer in the world. Both of these games, incidentally, were also away from home.
Despite our obvious defensive frailties, we have managed to keep 12 clean sheets in all competitions this season, including eight in our last 14 matches. Added to this is the fact that we have only lost 4 of our last 41 competitive games.
And, on top of all of this, our transfer policy is bearing golden fruit.
We are swatting away Barcelona’s interest in our Brazilian magician Philippe Coutinho, beating Chelsea to the signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£35m), and beating Manchester City to the signing of the world’s most expensive defender Virgil van Dijk (£75m). We have added Sadio Mane (£34m) Liverpool’s Players Player and Fans Player of the Year last season; Mohamed Salah (£37.8m) who has joined Ian Rush and Roger Hunt on the list of players who have scored 20 goals before Christmas, has done it in fewer games than both, and was voted 2017 African Player of the Year; and we have secured Naby Keita (potential £67.5m) for next season, the best player in the Bundesliga outside of Bayern Munich.
Upon completing his transfer, Keita will join Mane and Salah, in the top three most expensive African footballers of all time.
Liverpool’s fluid, free-flowing football is mesmerising to watch – “poetry in motion” as the song goes. And is a million miles away from the days of losing 6-1 to Stoke and having a pool of forwards consisting of Fabio Borini, Rickie Lambert, and Mario Balotelli – a combined 888 minutes with no goals.
In Europe’s top 5 leagues (France, Germany, England, Spain, Italy), only Manchester City (61) and Paris St Germain (58) have scored more league goals than Liverpool (46).
The Fab Four of Mane, Salah, Coutinho, and Roberto Firmino are not only competing, and beating, the strikeforces in England, but also some of the elite of Europe.
|Team||Games Started (league and Europe)||Assists||Goals|
|Romelu Lukaku||Manchester United||26||4||14|
|Anthony Martial||Manchester United||14||5||7|
|Marcus Rashford||Manchester United||15||5||7|
|Sergio Aguero||Manchester City||18||4||15|
|Gabriel Jesus||Manchester City||15||2||10|
|Raheem Sterling||Manchester City||18||4||17|
|Leroy Sane||Manchester City||17||10||6|
|Harry Kane||Tottenham Hotspur||24||3||24|
|Delle Alli||Tottenham Hotspur||21||9||6|
|Team||Games Started (league and Europe)||Assists||Goals|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||18||3||13|
|Karim Benzema||Real Madrid||14||4||4|
|Neymar||Paris St Germain||20||12||17|
|Kylian Mbappe||Paris St Germain||19||11||12|
|Edison Cavani||Paris St Germain||23||3||25|
Added to this is a smattering of homegrown and youth talent in the form of future Liverpool captain Trent Alexander-Arnold, England under-21 captain Joe Gomez, Player of the Tournament at the Under-20 World Cup Dominic Solanke, Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer Ben Woodburn, as well as the likes of Ryan Kent, Rhian Brewster, and Harry Wilson.
As 2018 creeps nearer, there is very good reason for morale to be high at Liverpool. Indeed, the future hasn’t seemed this bright for a long time.
Calls for “Klopp Out” are drastically wide of the mark. He is just getting started.
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