Twenty-seven years. It has been twenty-seven long years since Liverpool last captured a league title in England’s top flight. There have been other triumphs along the way of course, like the miracle of Istanbul in 2005 for a Champions League crown, but supporters and fans yearn for Premier League glory and believe that they may finally have the manager in place to deliver it to them.
Jurgen Klopp took over the club in October of last year after Brendan Rodgers was sacked following a disappointing start to the season. His hiring paid immediate dividends, as his approach to matches and infectious enthusiasm inspired a strong reaction from the players.
Considering how quickly he was able to see immediate improvement, ownership and supporters alike could see the potential that the former Borussia Dortmund manager brings to the team.
Klopp guided Liverpool to the Capital One Cup and Europa League finals, as well as bringing a major upgrade to their Premier League form.
However, the focus given to other competitions at times seemed to have a detrimental effect on their League placement, as a disappointing campaign finish featured two cup final losses and missing out on European qualification with an eighth place spot in the Premier League table.
But now with his first full offseason in charge, we look at how Klopp plans to bring the Reds and Anfield back to the top.
The transfer window remains open for European teams until the end of August, but Klopp has already made several key moves to bolster his roster. Goalkeeper Loris Karius was brought in from Bundesliga side Mainz 05 to replace incumbent Simon Mignolet possibly as soon as this upcoming season.
Keeping in line with what seems to be a bit of a tradition for Liverpool in recent transfer periods, forward Sadio Mane was purchased from Southampton and is expected to make a significant impact at the top of the lineup.
Despite some inconsistent form during his time with the Saints, his pace and scoring touch should shine in Klopp’s system. His hat-trick against Manchester City this past May was certainly one of the highlights of the Premier League season.
Perhaps the most exciting of all is the addition of midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum’s from Newcastle, who brings creativity and a dynamic attacking style.
Despite being part of a Newcastle United team who were ultimately relegated to the Championship this past season, the talented Dutch midfielder scored 11 goals and provided five assists in league play, an excellent contribution to a squad that struggled to find the net all season.
With a more talented group around him, Liverpool will be expecting great things from him in the future.
A final transfer that is expected sooner rather than later will be involving Italian forward Mario Balotelli, whom Klopp has stated does not have a place in the club moving forward. After spending last season on loan to AC Milan, Liverpool will be looking to cut their losses on a player that was a serious risk during Brendan Rodgers’ time in charge.
With Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp found success through a high press system known as “Gegenpressing”. The tactical approach features a high line from forwards and midfielders and is based around getting possession of the ball back as quickly as possible and looking to score even faster.
He began to use this system soon after taking over as Liverpool manager last season, normally in either a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation.
This style, when used correctly, can not only throw off the plan of the opposing team but can result in high scoring numbers and opportunities throughout a match. His additions of Mane and Wijnaldum showcase how his vision will be taking shape.
Using Wijnaldum in the midfield with Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, opposing teams will be overrun with speed and quality on the ball.
Their defensive shapes and positioning will make getting an attack forward very challenging and with Mane at the centre forward position, goals could come in bunches on the counter attack.
Firmino’s ability to play at the striker position as well gives this formation incredible adaptation and flexibility. Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge should both also be able to thrive in the “Gegenpressing” system.
Like Balotelli, forward Christian Benteke’s time appears to be up at Anfield, with rumours of his departure being reported by several news outlets. Injuries have certainly played a part in his difficulties, but the Belgian striker has been unable to live up to his expectations and replicate the goal-scoring form he demonstrated at Aston Villa a few years ago.
A critical area Klopp will need to focus on in the aspect of player recruitment will be depth at various positions in his lineup.
Due to his use of a high-intensity style of play, the club’s midfielders and forwards will find themselves fatigued, especially during the relentless schedule in England.
The winter period around Boxing Day and New Year’s Day along with two domestic cup competitions administers a tough test that even the best teams in the world would struggle with.
Klopp will need to ensure that he has the necessary players for his high risk-high reward style and approach.
Expectations are always at a significant level in Liverpool. The owners and supporters alike will be expecting a strong campaign and return to Champions League football at the very least.
The club’s run to the Capital One Cup and Europa League finals seemed to energise and galvanise the fanbase, a feeling that I’m sure all involved would like to see continue.
With an atmosphere of the table being wide open after the Premier League triumph of Leicester City and some of the bigger clubs seeming less dominant than in previous years, there is no reason to believe that Liverpool cannot climb to a top-four finish and reclaim a place in next season’s Champions League.
Without that same commitment or the Europa League this season, a focus can be shifted to one of the domestic cups during the upcoming campaign. Either a Capital One Cup or FA Cup victory would be considered an impressive start to Jurgen Klopp’s first full season at the helm.
The Kop, or perhaps sometimes referring to themselves as The Klopp for their popular new head man in charge, would be ecstatic to see a consistently competitive and trophy-winning squad in 2016-17.