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Everything’s the Worst: What the Eyes See

Should the work of Jürgen Klopp be judged by how his team performs between now and May?

Liverpool v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Worthless. It is beyond worthless and a waste of everyone's time to state that Jürgen Klopp has been, is, and will continue to be more than useful for Liverpool Football Club. As a tool in service of restoring Liverpool from the a general trend of mediocrity in the past decade, not many are better than Klopp. If feasting on scapegoats will provide the requisite nourishment or comfort in times of strife, continue to satisfy your search for simple answers.

Exhilarating performances, as appreciated as they are, will not restore belief among those who must always see to believe. That is their way, and for all the criticism of a lack of resolve at the first real testing period of Klopp's reign, only one man is to blame: Klopp himself. He manages with an aura, a hearty charm, a zeal for competitiveness, and a candour that makes him attractive. He is as he appears, and Liverpool fans quickly came to understand, that appearance is intoxicating. You want to believe, and even the cynical among us cannot help but believe him. He may not deliver, but wouldn't it be delightful if someone like Klopp actually did?

An admirable personality, however, is not sufficient to restore hope and banish the toxicity that developed within a year of Liverpool's most thrilling title challenge in a generation. Whether you believe the squad Klopp took over was good enough or not, reaching the EFL Cup and Europa League finals were beyond expectations. Not expectations for a club with Liverpool's pedigree and supposed ambitions, but Klopp's appointment in October 2015 was supposed to be the start of a period of transition. A first European final in nearly a decade, one that Liverpool took the lead in, could have delivered both Champions League football and silverware. Reaching those finals, not the eventual defeats that Liverpool suffered in both, perhaps indicated that Klopp had already made quite an impression.

There is also the matter of the club's best return over the first 19 games in Premier League history. As pleasing as it is, Liverpool seem unable to build from that as witnessed in the Europa League final. Will Liverpool crumble in the second half of the season as they did in the second half against Sevilla? Cup runs last season and now league form this season. Unable to sustain a true fight on multiple fronts, Liverpool have experienced the promise of a revival in one format while faltering in another.

Klopp failing to show any progress whatsoever since his appointment would probably damn him just as much as not building on early promise. This is the reality of managing Liverpool. Whether a month is sufficient to curse his whole process and way of working, however, is a personal choice. Frustration is understandable, and many words of admonishment are said in such times. A solitary win in an FA Cup replay with Plymouth Argyle is a wretched return in 2017. Five defeats in ten games in all competitions, losing at home to Swansea City, losing away to Hull City, losing at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, losing both legs of an EFL Cup semi-final against Southampton, and leading twice only to draw with Sunderland is a collapse in form.

Now is the time for Liverpool to prove and disprove certain theories. Liverpool's tendency to turn up in big games under Klopp must continue against Tottenham and Arsenal over the next three games. The notion that this squad is tailored for one game a week without any distractions will hopefully be proven over the last fourteen games of the season. The weakness against low blocks and struggling teams, however, could perhaps be Klopp's biggest barrier to regaining the momentum and form necessary to secure Champions League qualification.

Whatever Liverpool do this season, it is not necessary to convince others that Jürgen Klopp is the right man, FSG are capable owners, or the players are good enough for lofty aspirations. FSG and most of the squad have been at the club far longer than Klopp, and judgement will be passed by virtue of what the eyes witness between now and May. For Klopp, though, that day is still far, far away.

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