How Did Jurgen Klopp Make Liverpool Exceptional?

By | May 2, 2022
Before the German coach's arrival, the Merseyside outfit was in shambles. The club had consistently failed to hit the heights reached under Rafa Benitez when they were a regular top-four side and challenged on all fronts. Under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool had come agonizingly close to ending the club's wait for a league title, but their wheels fell off with three games remaining, giving Manchester City a clear sight to triumph. The following campaign saw Liverpool finish a disappointing sixth, and Rodgers would eventually be sacked on 4 October 2015, with his side 10th in the table. Four days after Rodgers was sacked, a new manager was appointed, one that most English football fans saw for the first time during the 2013 Champions League final and who was renowned for his trademark cap-and-glasses look.
As well as reaching the Wembley final and finishing runners-up to Bayern Munich, Jürgen Klopp had an exemplary track record. He led Mainz to the Bundesliga in his first managerial role before taking the Borussia Dortmund job and winning three major honors with the German giants.
"We have to change from doubters to believers. Now," said Jürgen Klopp to the camera with a grin. The newly-appointed Liverpool manager had just been asked to give his first message to the club's fans after he was unveiled. It did not take him long before saying the right words that resonated with the fans, whose memories of a near-miss of the Premier League title were still fresh.
Klopp's first season in charge of Liverpool is best remembered for the agonizing defeats they suffered in League Cup Final against Manchester City and Europa League Final against Sevilla and a mediocre eighth-place finish. Despite the cup finals losses and a mid-table finish, the signs of what to come were laid bare. It was evident that Klopp and Liverpool was a match made in heaven, and the Merseyside-based club would only get better.
Klopp would later receive a new six-year contract and his famous heavy metal football, better known as 'Gegenpressing' - focused on winning possession back as soon as it lost, was in full swing. However, it was also clear that the personnel to execute his ideas was not there, as Liverpool relied on scoring more, outscoring the opponent. They relied on individual brilliance to win matches for many years instead of a collective and pragmatic team effort. Luis Suarez, flanked by Daniel Sturridge, almost led Liverpool to Premier League glory, as Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard did under Rafa Benitez. While Liverpool would improve to finish fourth on the table in the 2016/17 season and qualify for the Champions League, the squad needed an urgent overhaul.
Klopp's impressive season over his first season at the club formed the foundation for a formative summer transfer window, where they acquired Andy Robertson from Hull City, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain from Arsenal, and Mohamed Salah from AS Roma. The club's most important signing was made during the January transfer window after the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, which helped in the acquisition of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton. During this season, Trent Alexander-Arnold enjoyed a breakthrough run in the starting XI, and the significantly-strengthened starting outfield helped Klopp build the squad to his requirements. Liverpool surged to the Champions League after seeing Manchester City and Roma off en route to the final before falling short against Real Madrid in Kiev.
Despite the 3-1 defeat in the Champions League final, Klopp did not waste time feeling sorry for what could have been a remarkable achievement but worked towards correcting weaknesses in his team. Some of the major weaknesses in the team were the urgent need for a world-class short stopper, especially after Loris Karius exposed them during crucial moments and a specialist defensive midfielder. Two days after the loss against Real Madrid, Fabinho joined them from Monaco, and fellow Brazilian Alisson joined from AS Roma. After correcting major weaknesses in the team, Klopp and Liverpool challenged Guardiola-led Manchester City in the 2018/19 campaign in what proved to be one of the greatest title races of recent Premier League history. Liverpool conceded just 22 goals in 38 Premier League games, finishing on 97 points, one behind Pep Guardiola's side.
Although they finished second, the season was a success as Liverpool returned to the pinnacle of European football and trounced Tottenham Hotspur to win their sixth Champions League trophy. At this time, every Premier League fan knew it was a matter of time before Liverpool cruised to a league title triumph. The Liverpool team was operating at the peak of its powers, especially after pulling one of the greatest comebacks in the Champions, a 4-0 victory over Barcelona. The club's forward line of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah formed one of the most formidable attacks in Europe. At the same time, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Fabinho, Alisson, and Robertson, marshaled the defensive line and forged a claim as the best in their position in the world. Klopp's fine-tuned winning machine later stormed to the Premier League title in the 2019/20 campaign by 18 points. This margin could have been larger had their rhythm not been disturbed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Klopp signed a new deal until 2024 midway through the 2020/21 season, adding to Liverpool's Premier League title delight. Even though Manchester City reclaimed the title and defended it in the 2021/22 season, Liverpool have pushed them to the limits and are arguably one of the top two or three sides in Europe. Another Champions League final awaits against Real Madrid in Paris, France, a testament to Klopp and Liverpool's sustained hunger as they look to cement their legacy as one of the best teams in Premier League and Champions League history. Klopp has often insisted, "I'm full of energy, and I want to go as far as possible."
Going by their manager's on and off-the-pitch brilliance, Liverpool fans have no trouble "believing" anymore. In fact, they expect; an evidence of the strides that Liverpool has made under Jürgen Klopp.