It was eight years ago yesterday that Jürgen Norbert Klopp took on the role of Liverpool manager, replacing Brendan Rodgers. It has been some eight years since, with another European Cup added to the trophy cabinet alongside two defeats in that competition’s final, as well as the long wait for a Premier League title finally drawn to a close. Add in the two near misses in the Premier League and you can see why it is that we all adore him so much. He is the longest serving manager that we’ve had in the Premier League, with many supporters hoping that he’ll be around for another eight. There have been some incredible highs during his leadership, including those that didn’t ultimately end in a trophy. I was at Anfield for the game between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in the 2015 2016 season, for example, and I have never experience a better atmosphere. Those that were at the Barcelona Champions League match will no doubt disagree, of course….
Can’t believe it’s 8 years since Klopp arrived!
We’ve been on an incredible..absolutely unbelievable journey with Jurgen & I sense we’re at the start of another incredible journey with this team he’s built.😎pic.twitter.com/0x9LjQ4wTt
— Davolaa (@Davolaar) October 8, 2023
One of the things that I love the most about the manager is the fact that he is always learning, growing and developing. He is an innovative football coach who looks to work with what he’s got when he can, only turning to the transfer market if he feels like he has to. The decision not to buy a defender and to promote Jarell Quansah is an excellent example of this, with the German feeling as though he’d be better off to work with someone who had already come through the ranks than to bring in someone who would have to learn the Liverpool way from scratch. There are other managers who end up spending hundreds of millions on defenders rather than trying to train the ones he’s got at his disposal to play in a better manner. Jürgen has made all of our lives better during his time at Anfield and it looks as though he’s in the process of putting together his next great Liverpool team. In some ways, though, the game against Brighton showed off the best and worst of life under the German.
Defensive Frailties Continue
There have been times during Jürgen Klopp’s Anfield tenure when the German has been slow to realise what’s not working. During the 2020 2021 campaign, it was pretty evident to most people that what we needed to do was play defenders in defence. Instead, the manager persisted with asking midfielders to play at centre back even as they were picking up more and more injuries as a result. Eventually, he decided to turn to a combination of Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and Ozan Kabak, with our performances seeing an improvement as a result. This season, the lack of a proper defensive six means that we’re in a little bit of a make do and mend type situation. It has been pretty clear to most that the defensive side of Alexis Mac Allister’s game is lacking for the role, but Jürgen is persisting. Against Brighton the midfielder was never really in the game, but he remained on the pitch for the duration of the match and you could argue that we suffered as a consequence.
For all the talk of Liverpool’s ‘complete midfield rebuild’ they are glaringly short of a defensive midfielder/No.6.
The day Mac Allister can play in his actual position will be a very pleasing one.
— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) October 8, 2023
By the same token, I remain unconvinced by the Trent Alexander Arnold hybrid role, feeling that it leaves us far too exposed down the righthand side of our defence. It gets worse when Joe Gomez plays there, not because Gomez isn’t a good player but because he is a centre back being asked to play as a right back and a midfielder all in one. Perhaps the manager felt as though the game would be too quick for Wataru Endo or that the Japanese player picked up a knock in our game against Union SG, but I’m not sure why we didn’t see him at any point of a game in which it was clear that we were losing the midfield battle. January might provided a chance to bring in a dedicated DM that the manager trusts, but in the meantime we might lose ground because of an unwillingness to accept that the players we have at our disposal are not well suited to the defensive midfielder role. After all, Mac Allister was Brighton’s top scorer last season, so his attacking attributes are why he caught our eye in the first place.
Our Attacking Can Be Scintillating
There is an extent to which some people, myself included, have under estimated just how tricky our start to the season was. We have now played Brighton, Spurs and Newcastle away from home, alongside a game against a Wolves side that Man City lost to. The fact that we are only three points off the top, especially when you consider the refereeing calamity that happened last week, you can see why there might just be a reason to be feeling optimistic. That optimism is added to thanks to the fact that our attacking play is breathtaking at times. Whilst one of Mo Salah’s goals was a penalty, it’s fairly clear that we’d have scored from open play had Pascal Groß not denied to try to garrotte Dominic Szoboszlai with his shirt. That Groß wasn’t sent off for the challenge will forever remain a mystery; if you can consider refereeing incompetence to be all that mysterious at any rate. Jürgen Klopp’s teams have always had an attacking flair and Liverpool 2.0 is no different.
Felt like Liverpool needed to win at least one of their games at Spurs or Brighton to announce themselves as title challengers this season and that hasn’t happened. But they’ll feel key moments didn’t go for them in both games and it has still been an encouraging start overall.
— David Lynch (@dmlynchlfc) October 8, 2023
Although we were without Diogo Jota due to refereeing incompetence and Cody Gakpo through injury, we still looked great going forward and now we’ve got the added threat of Ryan Gravenberch. The Dutch midfielder was achingly unlucky not to finish off a brilliant sweeping move that would’ve taken the game away from Brighton, but he’ll score plenty as the season progresses. In fact, it is those goals from midfield that make us such a threat and the reason why opposition teams won’t know quite what to do to stop us from scoring. We have scored in every game we’ve played so far, meaning that if we can find just a little bit more balance between attack and defence then we’ll be well set for the remainder of the campaign. Even if we don’t, we’re more likely to outscore the opposition than not, which will make for an exciting season. This Liverpool team is one that is built in the manager’s imagine, designed to thrill and excite and, hopefully, bring home more silverware.