Jürgen Klopp has been in charge at Liverpool for a little less than three years and following the January departure of Philippe Coutinho and arrival of Virgil van Dijk, this side now feels inarguably like his Liverpool side. His players. His methods.
And, after a long time in the wilderness, it feels fair and right and maybe even safe to say that Liverpool are back now amongst the game’s top clubs after too long spent struggling on the fringes, struggling to recover and to find their way again.
“I felt something special immediately,” Klopp said of his decision to take over on October 8, 2015. “I was not ready [to manage again], I thought it made sense that I had one year off. But I really knew, okay, that is one club that I cannot say no to.”
There had been dark days for the club. The undercutting and dismantling of what Rafa Benitez had built. The arrival of Roy Hodgson and flirting with administration. The sale to FSG and their attempts, stumbling at times, to recover and rebuild.
In Klopp, though, the club again had a proven, top class manager in charge. And they had one who believed enough in the club, that felt connected to it even before he signed on, such that he knew he had no choice but to change his plans.
“I love the history,” Klopp continued. “I really am a football romantic. I knew I probably can help. They maybe really need me, in this time. I know what I’m good at. When they told me about the problems they had I thought, ‘yeah, I am probably the right manager.’”
Nearly three seasons on, following the mid-season departure of the player many called their biggest star. Following a second top four finish in the league. Following a dream of a run that sees the club in their first Champions League final since 2007.
Following all that, there’s no ‘probably’ left in it. And, for the fans, there can be nothing but appreciation. For what Klopp has done, yes, but more than that for how it seems clear now that Liverpool was made for Klopp and Klopp for Liverpool.
“I had talks with other clubs and they didn’t sound like a football club,” he added of his decision in 2015. “It sounded like marketing, image, you need to sign this, you need to sign that. And I thought wow, that’s not the game I love.
“It’s all part of football, but it cannot be the number one, two, three, four priority. First of all please try to improve the game we play. And that’s what I am good in. All the rest can happen but it’s not so important for me.”