Article by Anish Dogra @Anish_Dogra
Much has been said about the start to the season so far for Liverpool FC. In many ways it has been an incredible start, unbeaten in the league and the best start the club has had since the 2002-03 season and boasting the joint best defensive record so far, only five goals conceded so far. On the flip side is the performances from the team, in total the Klopp’s men have played 17 games so far this season in all competitions and I can strongly argue that we have only blown five teams away:
- West Ham home on opening day, won 4-0
- Spurs away, won 2-1 (in reality the game should have been 3 or 4-0)
- Southampton home, 3-0, all goals in the first half
- Red Star Belgrade home, 4-0, if I’m being extremely harsh we could have won 6-0
- Cardiff at home, 4-1, dominant from minute one till ninety.
Five games out of a total of 17 isn’t the best reading and it is rather baffling as to why we have not put the sword to some of the other opponents such as Brighton, Huddersfield and Fulham. Several philosophies have been suggested as to why the team aren’t preforming to the standard that we all know, theories have included players being tired from the World Cup, new players such as Keita, Shaqiri and Fabinho taking time to gel or lastly, Klopp changing his tactics from high intensity football to conservative football.
In my opinion I believe it is the latter of those suggested theories, but it is a theory based on what could prove to be an excellent long term plan. Let’s go back in time to Klopp’s first full season in charge, 2016/17. The first half of the season was one of the most exhilarating times as a Liverpool fan, we were putting 3, 4, 5 and 6 past teams and scoring so many goals. At the end of 2017 we were 2nd in the league and only a few points of Chelsea in the race for the Premier League title.
The turn of the year normally brings good fortune for many, however for the club it was the total opposite. The lack of squad depth, the departure of influential forward Sadio Mane to the Africa Cup of Nations and perhaps crucially, the tiredness of players was evident as we slumped from 2nd in the league to 5th in the space of just five weeks which led to the club’s hopes of finishing in the top 4 in some doubt. Thankfully the club rallied and finished in 4th spot to secure Champions League football for the following season.
Of course we can point to the reason of missing Mane but in my opinion I believe the players were too tired due to the intensity that Klopp and his staff had been training them, “the week from hell” clearly identified this, in the space of 7 days we lost to Swansea at home in the league which effectively ended our title hopes, then a few days later we lost to Southampton in the 2nd leg of the league cup which knocked us out of that competition and to end the worst week ever, we lost to Wolves in the FA Cup 4th round. In all three of those games the player looked exhausted and just had no energy about them hence why we were out of all three competitions in the space of a week.
That season taught Klopp a great deal, from then on he knew that if the club were to have a successful season, he cannot go full throttle in training and in matches otherwise the players would just burn out by January. From 2016 to 2018 much has changed, there has been the small matter of a Champions League final, a world record fee for a centre back being broken and a certain Egyptian breaking every single record under the sun. It has been just over 3 years since LFC appointed Jurgen Klopp and every decision he and his staff have made so far can be judged as the right decision.
This then leads me to this season, the team aren’t playing well but we are collecting a lot of points in the Premier League. So to answer the question, the start that has been made by Klopp’ men, is it a concern? Or do we just need patience and believe that the performances will come sooner or later? I firmly believe that we just need patience. History has shown even under previous managers that we have grown stronger as the season goes on, think about the 2013/14 season, we were 5th in the league on 1st January 2014 but ended up finishing 2nd. This time last year, we weren’t playing well and our defence was extremely poor but when January came around the team were flying and we comfortably secured top 4 and made it all the way to the Champions League final.
The fact that we are 2nd in the League in this moment in time, unbeaten and only 2 points behind Manchester City is extremely encouraging and as long as Klopp keeps to his methodologies then I believe that we are in for an incredibly exciting season with untold possibilities.
Article by Anish Dogra @Anish_Dogra
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