For nearly three decades now, Liverpool Football Club have been waiting for another league title. With 18 in the cabinet already, they’ve waited for what feels like an eternity to bring back the league to Merseyside. When Jürgen Klopp walked in the door in October 2015, the hope was that the charismatic big German might be what the Reds need if they want to finally end that trophy hoodoo.
18 months or so on, though, things look to have changed. Fans – mostly on the never-authentic world of social media it has to be said – are turning. A poor January and a supposed lack of transfer interest has fans asking whether he is the right man after all. However, is it really all down to Klopp?
For one, he plays a high-energy game of football. This can take some time to build up, especially in a squad that looked lazy and lethargic prior to his arrival. Even with surgery in the summer, the club still is building a squad that truly fits the Klopp mold. The autumn showed that they have the ability to do so, and the winter has shown they lack the stamina (yet) to make it count.
However, fans seem to be forgetting that the development of a title winning side can take time. The players need to become not just physically durable, but mentally. This takes time, patience and, sorry, bad results and setbacks to win.
When you have gone three decades without the title, you should be able to surely see that it won’t come overnight. Other fans point their fingers at the Fenway Sports Group, the owners who, let’s not forget, saved Liverpool from going bust. While they can be overly frugal and seem to misjudge the ambitions needed to win the League, their appointment of Klopp shows they aren’t daft.
Klopp knows how to work with a squad and how to refine their talents. It took time at Dortmund, a club in an even worse state than the Reds were, and it will take time here. This needs a lot of surgery – but how can you be given the time with a huge, rabid fan base who have a large proportion of their base who have never seen a single title win?
Those years of expectation can have a negative impact. Klopp and the team looked enthusiastic and energized on the run-up to winter. Before long, though, the title talk had taken over the season and it feels like the minute Klopp began to talk about it with the press, the pressure has been on.
An over-achievement in the first half of the season added the same massive pressure that has held back previous Liverpool sides. It would appear that the same thing is happening here. Can Liverpool turn it around? This season, no; the title is gone.
In future years, though, there are few managers better suited to Anfield than Jürgen Klopp. He can end their title drought – if the fans can get off his back long enough to make it happen. Accusations of transfer negligence or an ownership not handing out the right backing does nothing for the mood of the squad – if fans want to see long-term progress over the boom/bust cycles the club lives in perpetually, now is the time to make it so.