I'm completely different to the "English philosophy" of we have to buy, we have to buy, we have to buy, we have to buy and it's only all about transfers, all about transfers, all about transfers, because I believe in training. For training you need time...and the right players. If you don't have the right players, you have to make transfers. But you don't have to make transfers because you don't want to train or you have no time to train. - Jürgen Klopp
This isn't a manager who boldly talks about playing youngsters and giving them chances before jettisoning a whole bunch of them in his first summer transfer window. When examples from the present and the past line up clearly, it seems strange for fans to deny their clear tendencies and philosophies.
After Jürgen Klopp's first summer transfer window as Liverpool manager, there seems to be much disagreement on how successful it has been. Have Liverpool strengthened enough? Are there still glaring weaknesses in the squad? Can Klopp's squad compete with rivals clubs and some of the best managers in the game? These questions will be answered in time, and whatever happens, Klopp will use the lessons from this season to improve.
Liverpool's transfer window has been shaped by design in accordance with Klopp's philosophy. Seven players arrived, fourteen departed permanently, and another nine left on loan ahead of a first full season in English football. There is no need to delve within Klopp's history at Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund to understand how he works. Take a look at his tenure at Liverpool so far. Since arriving in October last year, the 49-year-old refrained from making any permanent additions beyond ones who would arrive this summer.
Two goalkeepers, two defenders, two midfielders, and one attacker. Four first-team players, two reserves, and one promising youngster. The overhaul lay in the players that were let go, and interestingly, Mamadou Sakho is the only unwanted senior player that lasted beyond the summer. Klopp worked with Brendan Rodgers' squad and assessed the players he inherited over the course of seven months before selling a club record number of players in a single summer. The significance of this shouldn't be lost on observers: Klopp believes in these players and this squad.
In the opening game of the campaign away to Arsenal, eight players from last season made the starting line-up. Without European football this season, Liverpool will be free from a demanding schedule, barring fixture congestion in the festive period in late December and early January. Stability and familiarity remain despite a revolution of sorts this summer. Barring injuries—an area of potential concern under Klopp—Liverpool can build understanding and cohesion with consistency in team selection.
Having a squad that's tighter and stronger after a positive net expenditure is not a sign of incompetence but skill. Liverpool finished with 60 points, scoring 63 and conceding 50 goals to finish in eighth place last season. Two cup finals, however, hinted at the ability to do something more with the right support. Even with struggles against teams that defend deep, Liverpool are expected to and should score more goals. Yet concerns regarding defensively stability abound with the failure to buy a left back and a defensive midfielder.
Emre Can's rapid progress under Klopp as the club's first-choice "hard midfielder" shouldn't be ignored. Lucas Leiva, when fit, is a decent option. A lack of composure in midfield might be a bigger problem, but reports that Mahmoud Dahoud remains a top target suggest that Klopp is aware of a need for composed presence in midfield. Are James Milner and Alberto Moreno sufficient on the left of defence? Can Nathaniel Clyne last the entire season?
In Liverpool's first 32 Premier League games under Klopp, 1.84 goals have been scored and 1.41 goals have been conceded per game. Improvement, however, takes time and may involve a sideways or backwards step. In 2008/09, Borussia Dortmund conceded 37 goals in 34 league games. 42 goals were conceded the following season in 2009/10 before a real breakthrough in 2010/11. Dortmund conceded just just 22 goals to win the league for the first time in nearly ten years. Defensive stability continued the following season along with an explosion in attacking numbers, helped greatly by the deadly Robert Lewandowski.
This may not be the path Klopp takes to improve Liverpool defensively, but each season players were bought and work was undertaken to refine as well as improve the way the team played. If Jürgen Klopp is the remedy to Liverpool's ills, we need to let him work. By next summer, all of the players will have spent at least 12 months working with him. For most, however, the best part of two seasons of their career will have been under his guidance. They will get a chance, but if certain players aren't trusted to provide what Klopp requires, they will move elsewhere. Popular or not, they will not last under this man.
Sadio Mané, Joël Matip, Loris Karius, Georginio Wijnaldum, Marko Grujić, Ragnar Klavan, and Alex Manninger are the players chosen to help Liverpool make the step forward. Mané is already seen as a key player and a good deal at around £30 million in this summer of unprecedented excess. It's not all about transfers, and with the close of the transfer window, it's time for Klopp to work in the way he believes in.