Jürgen Klopp remains Liverpool’s best chance at finding the kind of sustained success that has so far eluded them in the Premier League era, but mistakes have been made and a season that was meant to see them solidify their place in England’s top four is teetering on the edge of disaster.
For all his qualities, for all he’s done in the past to prove he’s one of the game’s top managers, that reality falls on Klopp. The manager was given the green light to spend big over the summer, to strengthen at key positions, and when he couldn’t get his first choice targets in chose instead to wait.
“There’s no lack of ambition from the owners,” former Liverpool midfielder Jason McAteer told BeIN Sports this week when asked for his take on the club’s current, two-month run of poor form. “They have given the manager virtually an open cheque book. He had over £150million to spend.
“If Van Dijk had come for £70million and Keïta for £60million, having bought Salah, you’re looking at over £160million there they were willing to outlay. Klopp dipped into that to buy Oxlade-Chamberlain and I’m not too sure why he brought him in. Offensively, we didn’t need strengthening.”
In the past, Fenway Sports Group have been criticised for failing to spend enough to compete with the top sides in England in Europe. This past summer, though, with Champions League football attained and a top manager with a proven track record in charge, they were willing to spend.
The potential return, the assurance of future Champions League football and a chance at silverware in the league and on the continent, was worth the investment and so they were willing to do what Liverpool fans always say they want the club’s owners to—sign the cheques but otherwise stay in the background.
Klopp, though, was willing to gamble that he could survive a season—that waiting and perhaps getting Keïta and Van Dijk in next summer was a better option than getting a player not quite as good in this one. Now, with the team struggling, he has some way to go to prove that was the right choice.
“The owners haven’t lacked ambition,” McAteer added. “Recruitment is down to the manager. The problem for me is they didn’t have a Plan B. If you can’t get Van Dijk then surely there must be someone else. He didn’t go and buy someone else and now we’re seeing the downside of not doing that.”