Jurgen Klopp's Reds reign so far: 4 things he's done well – and 4 more he can't ignore any more
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool reign so far can perhaps be summed up by the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Reds’ last two games, as they recovered from an entirely predictable defeat at relegation-threatened Leicester to beat fellow top-four contenders Arsenal and maintain an unbeaten record against the top six this season.
The reverse fixture against the Gunners, on the opening weekend of the season, was followed up by defeat to Burnley. Victory over Manchester City on New Year’s Eve preceded a 2-2 draw at Sunderland, and then one win in 10 games in all competitions.
Klopp’s Liverpool reign so far can perhaps be summed up by the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Reds’ last two games
Such a poor run of form put Klopp under pressure and led to him being questioned for the first time since taking the Anfield hot seat in October 2015. The German has conceded he doesn’t like such inconsistency from his side, but believes that it is – for now at least – part of his squad’s development.
But what’s gone well – and not so – up to this point?
1. Uniting the club
If I sit here in four years, I am pretty confident we will have one title
In the weeks before Klopp’s appointment at Anfield, most of the fanbase doubted whether the owners would appoint a high-profile manager like the German. The worry about sacking Rodgers was that the Reds would end up with another five-year project and a manager who needed time to develop.
Instead, to their credit, FSG got Klopp – who immediately united the fanbase and gave everybody at the club a huge boost. The German’s confident, charismatic style at his first press conference raised expectation levels. "If I sit here in four years, I am pretty confident we will have one title," he said – although whether he actually meant a league title, or titles in terms of trophies, still isn’t clear.
In Klopp’s first eight months in charge he was a couple of awful penalty kicks and a 45-minute capitulation away from delivering two trophies and a return to the Champions League. Those two cup final defeats did little to dent the optimism and enthusiasm ahead of his first full season in charge.
2. Entertaining football, big-game mentality
The football that Liverpool played early this season was some of the most entertaining Anfield has witnessed in decades. The 6-1 win against Watford, arriving on the back of 4-1 and 5-1 triumphs over Leicester and Hull respectively, buoyed spirits at Anfield.
Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation, with Adam Lallana in a deeper central role, worked to great effect, while the trio of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane offered variation and quality in attack. That unpredictability has dropped off in 2017 somewhat, with form, fitness and opposition teams perhaps wising up to Liverpool’s qualities accountable for that.
What should not be doubted is Klopp’s big-game mentality and tactical ability – his team recorded victories at Chelsea and Manchester City last season, again at Chelsea this campaign, and he has just become the first Reds boss since 1999/2000 to beat Arsenal home and away in the same season.