Back in the 1960s Bill Shankly said that Liverpool “exists to win trophies.” As legendary managers go Shankly is as celebrated as they come, leading the Reds to three league titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup during his illustrious time in charge. He dragged the club into the limelight in those days, birthing the dominant era that lay ahead in the 1970s and 80s. Many a team were bested. Many a trophy were lifted.
In these modern times of ours, trophies have been hard to come by for Liverpool. The Premier League has not been dominated by the club and the last major award to get misty over was won way back in 2005. It’s been a grind.
This current version of Liverpool, though, Jürgen Klopp’s team, has begun to show signs of dominance. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when the business end of the league isn’t being contested between two or three teams. There are easily six teams vying for the top four spots. And up and down the table there are sides that can steal your points.
So for Klopp, the charge that Liverpool exists to win trophies doesn’t exactly ring true in the modern football landscape that never lets up and is eternally full of danger.
“The team he had and the fantastic success was when you had a team that stayed together and got better together,” Klopp said of Shankly.
“There were seasons when you only needed twelve players in your squad.
“That’s a good situation. A fantastic manager, outstanding club, football crazy city. Just go.
“We cannot compare those times with these times.”
Klopp, just like all the managers at the top clubs, is in a constant fight just to stay relevant in the league. The years that Liverpool have been out of the Champions League have been made worse with the knowledge that every season out of European competition would make it that much harder to get back in. Finishing in the top four in the Premier League is vital to sustained success in England.
“If you could bring Bill Shankly back into the club now,” Klopp mused, “and ask him ‘are you happy with fourth?’ because he was a fantastic football manager he would have seen that this is the only way we can go.
“You need to do what we are doing to be in a position to win something one day.
“To just want it more desperately than other clubs doesn’t make it more likely to happen. That’s how it is.
“You need to do all your homework and when the time comes, you have to catch it.
“Bill would have seen that 100%. But unfortunately I never got to know him as a person and that’s really a shame because we are doing the same job.”
Jürgen Klopp without a doubt wants to win trophies. He wants Liverpool to win trophies. He wants to win the Premier League at Liverpool. He wants to win the Champions League at Liverpool. The club haven’t fared too well in the domestic cups but Klopp has shown that he respects those competitions enough to field strong line-ups that for one reason or another just haven’t won out.
What Klopp has in his mind is a long term plan to bring Liverpool back into relevance on the biggest stages. And it’s not going to be enough for the manager to rise too quickly just to get burned by the sun. Steady growth, consistent top four finishes, continued advancement through the Champions League competition. More money, more recognition, better players, excellence, trophies.
Just close your eyes and imagine this could be the birth of a new era of dominance at Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp. I mean, maybe. And how exciting, if it is.