Jürgen Klopp was hailed as the man to bring major success back to Merseyside, but as things stand he is running out of time and is edging closer and closer to being on the brink of losing his job. The enigmatic German was revered for his tactical style at Borussia Dortmund, applauded for his footballing philosophy and was adored by the fans. He seemed a perfect fit for one of the most famous clubs in the world, but problems on and off the field are greatly increasing the pressure on him.
Klopp has been at the helm for over two years now, with little to show. A defeat in the Europa League final is perhaps his greatest achievement so far. Scepticism about his ability to take the team forward is beginning to gather pace, and disastrous dealings in the transfer window, coupled with indifferent performances, mean that time is beginning to run out for him.
The Virgil van Dijk transfer saga dominated most headlines over the last month. With Liverpool constantly leaking goals due to schoolboy pieces of defending, Klopp would have been keen to sign the centre-half. Shoring up the defence should have been his number one priority. Instead, already stacked with offensive talent such as Mo Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, he opted for wantaway winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s transfer was a bizarre piece of business. After the story first broke, many supporters voiced concerns of how he would fit into the team. The owners, Fenway Sports Group, have also come in for criticism for this. They have been accused by some fans as purely running the club as a business, with balancing the books more important than on-field success.
Transfer policy aside, his inconsistent and unsuccessful team selections are not doing him any favours. He isn’t sure of his first choice goalkeeper. Simon Mignolet was traditionally the number one, but the arrival of Klopp’s countryman Loris Karius has caused headaches. Neither has done enough to make a strong claim for the starting spot and until one of them does, there will always be problems for the defensive players in the team.
On their day, Liverpool are unplayable. The raw pace of Salah, the trickery of Mané and the industry of Emre Can make up a formidable midfield. That’s without mentioning Philipe Coutinho, who appears to be staying at the club for the time being. They ripped apart Arsenal in their third game of the season, dominating the Londoners from the whistle. The performance was so complete that Arsenal didn’t even manage a shot on target, their first outing without achieving this in 110 matches.
Jekyll and Hyde
They should have been buoyed with confidence after that performance. Instead, they were annihilated by Manchester City a week later. The controversial red card for Mané played a part in the result, but the 5-0 defeat was so embarrassing that Klopp was forced to wear a bemused smile during his post-match interview. The comparisons with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde became even stronger.
Klopp is without doubt a popular and engaging personality who is well-liked by the fans. His easy-going demeanour sets him apart from contemporaries such as Pep Guardioala and José Mourinho who sometimes appear aloof. He can get the crowd going, as he often does from the touchline. He is a passionate man who obviously cares about the club, but is this really enough to keep him in a job?
The shock sacking of Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer after only four games was met with surprise and even derision. Although clamouring to have some sort of loyalty in the sport is laudable, many forget that managers are in the results game. Owners invest a lot of money into their clubs and have expectations. Klopp may point to his previous record in the Bundesliga and his affinity to the Anfield faithful, but it remains to be seen how much time he has left. It may not be long if results continue as they are.
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