This was meant to be a big season for Liverpool. They’d made it back into the Champions League, had a world class manager, and the owners were sending signals he would be backed fully in the transfer market. A season to solidify their place in the top four was the minimum expectation.
More than that, just maybe, seemed possible. Then things started to go wrong, with the club missing out on two key summer signings. The manager seemed content to ride things out, waiting to bring in the players he really wanted rather than opting for second choices, but fans were worried.
Nobody, though, thought it would go this badly. Sat ninth after nine games, one point from falling into the bottom half of the table, struggling to both score and defend. Still, says former Liverpool player and manager Graeme Souness, the faith must be kept. Klopp must be backed.
"Liverpool have to stick with Klopp,” Souness told Premier League Daily. “He’s a good fit. He’s a passionate man, wears his heart on his sleeve, and Liverpool are the sort of club to give him time. The football has been fab, but you look at last weekend, they were 2-0 down inside 10 minutes.
"They still had the ball and the chances, but were well beaten. If you are leaking goals as they are, it doesn't matter what football you play because you can't outscore teams. You have to defend properly. You would be far better to be tight and not play attractive football and just nick a game."
Liverpool have tried that, though, over their poor run through September and October, and it has rarely worked. They conceded just two goals in three league games against Burnley, Newcastle, and Manchester United and drew all three games. In Europe, they drew Spartak Moscow 1-1.
The football has at times been attractive, but to have had anything like a successful run these past two months they would have had to regularly shut out opponents, and that appears clearly to be rather too much to ask for from the club’s current group of defenders and whoever the goalkeeper is.
"The manager put all his eggs in one basket with Virgil van Dijk,” Souness added. “I like him as a player, and if he had gone to Liverpool he could perhaps have made the difference. One player can make the difference in my opinion [but] Jurgen Klopp has kept his powder dry.
“As a manager, when you can't get your first target do you go and spend on your second, third, fourth choice? For Liverpool supporters, they will be hoping they can get Van Dijk at Christmas time or beyond. If someone would guarantee me a top-four finish for Liverpool, I would sign up right now.”