Out With a Fizzle Rather Than a Bang

The news that Arne Slot is to be our next manager has been greeted with a general lack of enthusiasm from Liverpool supporters. It is easy to work out why. The club will have gone from having the best manager in the world to employing a bald Dutch fella, with no one overly convinced by what the last one of them has done in the Premier League at our Old Trafford rivals. I won’t pretend for one second to know a huge amount about Slot, having never knowingly watched a Feyenoord match, but everything I’ve read about him since news of his likely appointment became public knowledge fills me with hope. It should be pointed out that I also knew little about Jürgen Klopp before he came in, whilst most supporters would’ve been underwhelmed by the decision to give Bob Paisley the job after Bill Shankly confirmed his retirement. Thankfully, social media didn’t exist back then, so Liverpool fans had to keep their moaning restricted to the pubs around the city, never really able to gather enough like-minded people to make it any sort of anti-Paisley movement.

Whoever came after Klopp was always likely to be a disappointment. Slot does, at least, appear to have enough self-confidence to mean that he isn’t likely to be overawed by the job. It is entirely possible that he’s even more successful than the German was. If he sticks around long enough for 115 Charges FC to be removed the equation, it’s entirely possible that he wins the number of titles that Klopp has effectively won if we hadn’t been going up against financial cheats during his time at the club. It is also more than possible, likely even, that is a lot less successful than Jürgen has been. The important thing is that he is given a chance to prove himself. We can’t have ‘should’ve thrown whatever it took at Alonso’ being the refrain at the first sign of trouble. Maybe the Liverpool job will be too big for him, given the fact that he hasn’t been at a club anywhere near the size of the Reds in his career. There is also the possibility that he flourishes and we discover this is his natural level. Whilst it’s sad that Klopp is leaving, there is an unquestionable sense of excitement at what’s to come.

A Title Race That Has Fizzled Out

There were plenty of angry Liverpool fans in the wake of our 2-2 draw with West Ham United at the weekend. It is understandable, of course; the Reds were supposed to be challenging for the title, but one point from Crystal Palace, Everton and the Hammers put paid to that. There are many that think that Jürgen Klopp’s decision to announce the fact that he would leave the club at the end of the season is the reason the title challenge fell off a cliff, but I don’t buy into that. Even if we ignore the fact that newspapers had the information and were going to leak it if he didn’t make the announcement himself, the problems that we’ve suffered from in recent weeks were there well before Jürgen told us all he was leaving. We have repeatedly given goals away and struggled to score, which is why we were the club that had won more points from losing positions than any other side and why we scored so many late goals – we needed to. That isn’t a sustainable way of playing and in the end it came along and bit us at the worst possible moment in the season.

Rather than being angry at the dropped points to West Ham, I was just disappointed. I felt as though the manager deserved more from his players than he’s received of late. The way in which we were so meek against Everton is the exact opposite of what Jürgen Klopp has installed in his players throughout his time at the club. I thought we were much better against the Hammers, even if Darren Fletcher and Ally McCoist were determined to suggest that we were playing too slowly in the first-half. The problem was that we remained weak defensively and had no answers to the questions that West Ham were asking of us defensively. Having conceded the goal that we conceded to Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the derby, I thought we might be a little more prepared for Michail Antonio’s physicality from crosses, but no. Add in the argument between Mo Salah and Jürgen Klopp on the touchline and it feels fairly clear that the players seem to be just as tired of the manager as he appears to be of the job in general. It looks like it is, sadly, the right time to say goodbye.

A Time to be Celebrated

Although it looks as though it might well be the right time for Jürgen Klopp to end his period of time in charge of Liverpool, that doesn’t mean that the next few weeks should feel like a funeral procession. The German is the best manager that the club has had in the Premier League era and leaves us having finally seen the title return to Anfield, to say nothing of the fact that he made us the best team that division has ever seen for a period of time. Even Guardiola’s dominant 115 Charges FC didn’t do what Klopp’s Liverpool did over the end of the 2018-2019 season into the start of the 2019-2020 one. Add in the European Cup win as well as an FA Cup and two League Cups, plus the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup and you can see that it is a time in the club’s history that will go down as one of the most successful ever. That he managed all of that in the sports-washing era makes it all the more remarkable an accomplishment and one that should be celebrated to the high heavens in our three remaining games. It is the very least that Jürgen Klopp deserves for what he’s given us.

There will be some from outside of the Liverpool fanbase who will look to mock and denigrate our accomplishments. You will get some constantly referring to is as the ‘Covid title’, as though the Reds didn’t have enough points to win the league if only ours won in front of supporters counted and every other club was allowed to include points won behind-closed-doors. There will be others suggesting that Liverpool ‘bottled it’ this season. I’ve been really depressed to see fellow supporters use that phrase. I don’t think it’s even remotely accurate. The Reds haven’t fallen away because the pressure got too much, but simply because the injuries caught up with us and the players coming back into the side didn’t have enough match fitness. That isn’t ‘bottling’ anything. If we’d won the title this season it would’ve been the manager’s greatest accomplishment, so not winning it doesn’t somehow transpire to be an unmitigated disaster. Jürgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield will involve getting us back into the top four and winning one of only three domestic trophies available. That’s a decent return in my eyes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *