Jürgen Klopp is looking to push Liverpool to their first top-flight English title in 27 years. It would also be the first Premier League title in the history of the club. The German manager is under a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver the club’s most prized treasure.
Is Jürgen Klopp Under Pressure?
A Booming Start… Beginning to Bust?
The Reds were off to a fantastic start, unbeaten in the league to start the season. Jürgen Klopp’s men managed to drop just six points in their first 20 games. Not to mention the three draws came against ‘top six’ opponents: Chelsea (A), Manchester City (H), Arsenal (A).
However, the Reds have slowed down and missed out on opportunities to increase their lead at the top. Liverpool have dropped seven points in their last five games, including two consecutive draws against bottom-half opponents: Leicester (H) and West Ham (A).
Luckily for Klopp’s men, champions, and favourites, Manchester City also dropped points against teams they were more than expected to beat. With the pressure mounting, Jürgen Klopp must find a way to reach the finish line and produce an end product for his work.
Klopp for the Kop
The German manager is now in his third full year with The Reds, after taking over for Brendan Rodgers in October of 2015. Klopp left Borussia Dortmund as their longest-serving manager, and Liverpool seemed to be a perfect fit for the German. His experiences with Dortmund, along with his style of play, matched perfectly with what they needed.
A coach with Champions League experience, but also one that has won the league in Europe’s top five leagues, his heavy metal style of football has been adopted and loved by the fans at Anfield. Although, it has tempered down and found a balance that has brought growth to the club.
Despite qualifying for the Champions League in the past two seasons, he is yet to win a single piece of silverware for the club. Many suggest that Klopp must bring trophies back to Anfield as proof of progression and success. Trophies measure success, just make sure you don’t tell that to Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino.
To his credit, Klopp managed to lead the Reds to the final of the Europa League, as well as the Champions League. Despite very memorable journeys, they lost both finals under Klopp, as the German coach has been unable to deliver a trophy back to Anfield.
A Tense Title Race
As the title race comes down to its last 13 games, pressure increases for Klopp. Manchester City finally reclaimed their lead at the top of the table with a win against Everton at Goodison Park. Trailing City only on goal difference, the Reds also have a game in hand over the champions. Technically, Klopp’s men still have the upper hand as the season begins to come to an end.
However, they could have been in a much better position, and the momentum is now certainly against the Reds. They had the opportunity to increase their lead at the top of the table on multiple occasions.
In December, Pep Guardiola’s side lost three league games, two of those against bottom-half opponents. Although this followed an eight-game win-streak for Man City, ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez led Newcastle to all three points against the Citizens just over one week ago.
Yet, Liverpool were unable to capitalize on the gift from their ex-manager. Anfield was left unnerved after a 1-1 draw against Leicester, as fans are once again worried of history repeating itself and once again coming “so close”.
Faith or Flop… Klopp Trusts his Squad
Jürgen Klopp’s transfer decisions upset many, especially due to the injury situation. It can be argued that with the position the club were in, bolstering the squad would have helped to ensure that the depth, energy, and quality of the squad can sustain a title run. Instead, Klopp decided to offload players and not bring in any new signings.
One major concern is in regards to Liverpool’s defence, specifically the lack of depth. Starting right-back Trent Alexander Arnold has been injured for weeks. However, Klopp decided to loan out Nathaniel Clyne, his only true replacement in the position.
Unfortunately, the effects have seen James Milner and Jordan Henderson forced to play the role. Even Fabinho was skinned from the short-handed midfield to rotate into the position. Jürgen Klopp must hope that Alexander-Arnold returns soon as opposing teams are continuing to exploit their pace on the make-shift right backs.
Another concern lies in Liverpool’s defence as their centre-back problem is yet to be solved. Youngster Joe Gomez earned the starting role and began to flourish under the partnership with Dutchman Virgil van Dijk. However, Gomez has been injured for some time and his current replacements have proved they are not good enough to start for title contenders.
It is evident that teams continue to find success attacking Liverpool’s right side and that another quality centre back is required. Yet, Jürgen Klopp decided not to invest in a new centre back and trust his current squad.
Tough Road Ahead
A series of difficult fixtures await the Reds as they have to balance the Champions League and a title run. With Bayern Munich to play in the knockout stages of the Champions League, Liverpool’s upcoming schedule is an uphill battle.
Visits to Old Trafford and Goodison Park mean that there’s no break before or after Bayern. The Reds must play at their highest level to ensure success in the only two competitions they have left. They are to also host Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur down their stretch of games.
The journey ahead will not be an easy path. Many argue that Jurgen Klopp has made it harder on himself as he continues to keep his net spend at a respectable amount. Klopp must hope that his starters return from injury soon and that his team can start to heat up once again. Will he end up regretting not using the January transfer window to reinforce his squad? Or will the German manager lead Liverpool to the glory they have been waiting over 25 years for?
The Final Question
The final question remains: If Jürgen Klopp does not deliver a trophy to Anfield this season, should he be fired?