Two years ago, Jurgen Klopp became the man tasked with getting Liverpool back to the lofty heights the club occupied during the early part of the 1980s and now it’s time to assess whether or not the German is on track.
Klopp will tell you he is on track. Liverpool will hope that he is on track. The Merseyside giants have just extended his contract until 2022.
However, I’m not so sure.
There was once a reality show broadcast in the United Kingdom called Faking it where contestants had to try fool a panel of experts into thinking they were seasoned professionals at a particular trade they knew nothing about.
For instance, a burger-van proprietor once successfully led a team of culinary mavens to believe that he had been preparing gourmet cuisine his entire life.
I often get the feeling Klopp is trying to perform a similar stunt at the helm of the Reds.
Numbers are poor
It’s undeniable that Klopp is perceived to be a far superior manager than Brendan Rogers – the man he replaced. However, that’s hardly the case.
Yes, Klopp has accumulated 14 more Premier League points in his 45 games in charge than Rogers did in his 46 games in charge. However, Rogers led a legitimate Premier league charge and Klopp hasn’t really come close to doing that and that’s not about to change this season.
If judgement day were tomorrow, Klopp would undoubtedly point to his performances against ‘The Big Six’ as proof that he is the real deal. During his time, Liverpool have had more wins and more points against ‘The Big Six’ than anyone else. However, his win percentage against all other teams in the Premier League is the worst out of the ‘The Big Six’.
If we’re going by the numbers, Klopp is faking it.
In one episode of Faking it, a punk rock singer attempts to become an orchestra conductor. He makes a wholehearted attempt but ultimately falls short because his movements were to bold and rigorous and the judges spotted him as the ringer.
Klopp’s approach at Liverpool is similar. In a league where sound defences ultimately prevail over venturesome offences, Klopp continues to focus on the latter and ignore the former.
Liverpool have spent £150 million on midfielders and forwards since Klopp’s appointment compared to a meagre £17.8 million on defenders and goalkeepers.
This approach simply doesn’t work. Liverpool have conceded more goals (93) than United, City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal since Klopp’s arrival at Anfield.
That’s not how you win the Premier League.
Klopp gets big decisions wrong
Klopp seems to get the big decisions wrong. Coutinho was hugely sought-after in the most recent transfer window yet Liverpool’s boss refused to let him go. It’s public knowledge that the Brazilian wanted out and I do not foresee that changing.
In James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Daniel Sturridge and Sadio Mane they have goals.
With their defensive problems that have been mentioned above, surely it would have made sense to sell want-away Coutinho and bring in at least two reliable defenders with the money generated from that transaction?
Shouldn’t the focus be on winning?
The Premier League is a numbers business. To survive, you must win.
Klopp goes on and on about establishing an identity, about playing a certain brand of football, about developing younger players, about planning for the future, about connecting with the fans etc.
I believe his focus should be winning games of football and all too often it is not.
This rhetoric that constantly detracts from the importance of the end result will grow stale sooner rather than later. Klopp needs to realise that or he’ll be called out.
OTP personality tells the tale
Nothing screams Faking it more than over-compensation.
I do not deny that Klopp is a passionate football man. However, its hard not to feel that his touchline antics are contrived at times… as if he is trying to offset a lack of technical knowledge and managerial experience with emotions and spirit.
Former Tottenham manager, Tim Sherwood, recently said that Klopp gets more leeway with the media because of how he interacts with them. I agree entirely.
Klopp’s job seems secure at the moment but it shouldn’t be. He hasn’t won a trophy in two years at Liverpool. If Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and Rogers were in Klopp’s shoes they would be staring down the barrel.
Being a good bloke with a big smile can only get you so far.
Klopp’s record at Borussia Dortmund is mightily impressive – he won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 and finished second in 2013 and 2014.
The Premier League is a different beast though. Both Liverpool and Klopp are hopeful that this partnership will be a long-term one. I have my doubts.
At 50-years-of-age, I feel Klopp still has much to learn about the English game and once-great-Liverpool isn’t the place for that. The club wants to win again.
Klopp needs to start doing that or the Fenway Sports Group might just rule that he’s Faking it and show him the door.