2017 has not been a friendly year to Liverpool Football Club. After a dazzling start to the season, the fire that was once burning under the Reds has cooled off significantly. Since the new year, the Merseyside club has won one match out of twelve total matches across all competitions. They’ve seen themselves knocked out of both the FA Cup and EFL Cup, and now in a race to finish in the top four to reach the elusive Champions League. While there are many concerns on what has caused this drop off, one thing is to be certain; Jurgen Klopp has only 78 matches under this legendary club.
To better understand what has happened, one needs to look at what Klopp has done to fix the issues he inherited from his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers.
At Borussia Dortmund, Klopp had arguably one of the top true strikers in the world in Polish international, Robert Lewandowski. While Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi have done well while leading the line, Daniel Sturridge has left much to be desired.
The English international has not been able to regain the form of his magical 2013-2014 season in which he netted 21 times for the Reds. With only two goals this season and interest from abroad, it is likely Sturridge’s time is drawing to its inevitable conclusion. This is a area that requires some major attention in the coming transfer window. With 29 goals amassed between Phillipe Coutinho, Firmino, Origi, and summer signing Said Mane, scoring goals hasn’t been the problem for Liverpool. Adding a true number nine, though, would alleviate these playmakers to not be concerned with scoring goals and allow them to become more fluid in their passes and runs, which they were able to enjoy more so earlier on in this campaign.
Giving these players adequate depth is also necessary for the success of this football club. While Mane was away representing Senegal at AFCON, Liverpool’s inability to replace the effectiveness of the newly signed wingers presence caused many issues atop their attack. During the transfer window there had been links to many wingers, including Julian Brandt of Bayer Leverkusen, Christian Pulisic of Borrusia Dortmund, and Quincy Promes of Spartak Moscow. Following suit to his previous January windows, Klopp held off on spending big money and risking overpaying for a player. Though, to reach the quality of the top teams in Europe, more quality needs to be added. This is no slight to up and coming players on the Liverpool roster such as Ovie Ejaria, Sheyi Ojo, and Ben Woodburn, but they are not quite ready to face the competition of the European giants.
Another area in which needs attention is the back line. Klopp has begun his transformation with a brilliant piece of business in signing Joel Matip on a free transfer. Paired alongside a rejuvenated Dejan Lovren, the two have been fairly successful this campaign. Nathaniel Clyne remains a stalwart on the right side of the defense, but after that is where this head down hill.
With no true left back, as it would seem Klopp has lost faith in Alberto Moreno, James Milner has been the makeshift fullback. While offensively Milner has been great, scoring seven goals, his defensive prowess has been shaky at best. Alongside moving Milner, Klopp has also been using Lucas Leiva at center back.
While getting the most out of what he has to work with, Klopp must address the defensive issues that have plagued this squad since the start of the new year. Solving the impasse between Klopp and current Crystal Palace loanee, French defender Mamadou Sahko, could prove to be the best in-house move. During the run to the Europa League Final last season, Sahko showed time and time again his ability as Liverpool’s best defender, but after a series of off the field distractions, a fallout with Klopp ensued a freeze from the club and his eventual loaning. Should Sahko come back, the need for another strong defender to pair with Matip or Lovren would be alleviated.
Making a decision on who is to remain between the sticks for the Reds has also been a sore spot. Klopp purchased 23 year old Loris Karius this summer to compete with Belgian Simon Mignolet, and with twelve weeks left there is still no clear winner. Karius has made ten starts while Mignolet has made 16. Both have had good stretches, but both have had abysmal performances which has led to the back and forth between them. Mignolet’s time at Liverpool may be drawing to a close as Klopp was rumored to be in the market for a more regular starter in the net until Karius can assume the post.
Since Jurgen has taken over, Liverpool has been headed in the right direction. Solidifying the attack with Saido Mane, having a reemergence in the midfield, making the shrewd move to bring Matip on a free transfer, and signing Karius to be the future in goal, Klopp’s system has been implemented. Fans need to remember though that for the most part, Klopp is still working with a predominantly Brendan Rodger’s influenced side. With the coming window, more pieces will be added to this squad and, given time, it is not too far of a reach to see Liverpool reach the grasp of European elite once again. Liverpool.