It's a year into the job for Jürgen Klopp as Liverpool manager, and while the atmosphere may be a tad too celebratory for some, it cannot be denied that securing the former Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund manager was a coup for the club. Klopp was linked with Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Bayern Munich—clubs that could offer the 49-year-old more money and wages to attract talent. Those positions all became available—Carlo Ancelotti was announced as Pep Guardiola’s successor before the end of last year—within months of Klopp’s appointment.
We know, of course, that Jürgen Klopp isn’t all about "transfer war chests" and focusing solely on short-term goals. He's a builder who wants his players to press, run hard, and be as competitive as possible. Players want to be like him and are reinvented by him, making declarations that he's a ‘"special manager" difficult to ignore. Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has been positive about Klopp’s impact on the club and reiterated his belief that Klopp can be a success at Anfield.
"I think Klopp is a special manager, at the moment I don’t think we could get anyone better than him in how he’s suited to the club," Carragher stated. "In terms of winning a league or the cup, you look at the Leicester situation, sometimes it’s not just about what you do but what the other teams do.
"You could have a season, it could be this season, are we the best squad? Probably not but we’ve made a great start. In terms of Klopp over these next couple of seasons, he’s been to two cup finals and you hope a manager like that can bring us some trophies, it’s not easy, we’ve had a barren spell."
This decade has generally been one of mediocrity for Liverpool in the Premier League. Bar a stirring title challenge in 2013/14 that couldn't quite win a first league title since 1990, the club has finished sixth, seventh, or eighth—essentially stuck in transition. The club last won a trophy in 2012 under Kenny Dalglish, securing a record eighth League Cup by beating Cardiff City 3-2 on penalties. Liverpool also lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup final that season and did not reach a major final since then until Klopp came along.
This man full of refreshing candour and earthy charisma has ensured that people are talking about Liverpool again as a genuine threat. Those two cup finals in the League Cup and Europa League may not have ended a four-year trophy drought but underlined the progress made in such a short time. A mass cull, as some thought was required, didn't happen in Klopp’s first summer transfer window. Many changes took place, but in spite of key additions, the squad still has a familiar look in terms of personnel. Liverpool, however, have started the season impressively. For Carragher, Klopp deserves to be singled out for changing the conversation around a fallen giant.
"The one man who takes most credit and certainly should take most credit is Jurgen Klopp," Carragher enthused. "Maybe the club also for going for Jurgen Klopp. I said when Brendan Rodgers was sacked and Thierry Henry had his hand over my thigh, the only man Liverpool should be going for was Jurgen Klopp, he was the outstanding candidate and available.
"There may have been some people at the time who thought Klopp was looking at teams closer to the top and winning the biggest trophies around because although Liverpool weren’t struggling we weren’t where we wanted to be – hence why Brendan Rodgers lost his job.
"I think he’s been everything we expected him to be. A fantastic football manager but also a fantastic character and addition to the Premier League. I can’t think of anybody else out there who would be a better fit for our club."
Klopp takes charge of his 38th league game in charge of Liverpool against Manchester United—where the previous 37 have shown that steady improvement under Klopp is no fantasy. The only way to mark 12 months in charge is with a victory that would simultaneously raise further questions a strategy built by extravagant spending underpinned by a conservative footballing philosophy and enhance the momentum as well as feel-good factor at Anfield.