Too often in recent years, watching Liverpool come close to success—watching the club seem to be on the right track and headed in the right direction—has carried with it a certain unavoidable dread of waiting for the bad news, the step back after the one forward.
This summer, though. This summer has felt different. This summer, following last season’s appearance in the Champions League final, has seen no disheartening sale of a star. Has seen no top target poached by a rival. Liverpool, today, are better than they were.
Liverpool today, on paper at least, are second favourites for the league. At least. They are a side all will fear in Europe. They are, increasingly, a side with enough depth to compete in every competition they find themselves in. That, Says Jürgen Klopp, was always the plan.
“We never felt Kiev was the last step,” Klopp explained in an interview with Goal’s Neil Jones. “We are in the middle of our development. We are not unbeatable, we are not the best team in the world, but we have a specific style of play which makes us a really good side.”
They may not be the best in the world, but one would be hard pressed to identify a better starting eleven than the one Klopp can now run out, and after struggling at times in his first three years with a lack of depth, the club now have real options behind those starters.
And while it can maybe seem as though it’s taken too long for that quality and depth to begin to arrive at the club, convincing players who could start for most other sides to wait patiently for their turn takes more than just the idea of a project and potential.
It takes a side that looks capable of winning the game’s biggest prizes. That’s the corner Liverpool turned last season, in large part thanks to that Champions League final run, and it’s why there has now been no step back. Now, under Klopp, Liverpool are a destination.
“We had Chelsea chasing us until the last game,” Klopp added. “They were 2-0 down against Southampton and if they lost that game then we can prepare for the final. But they win it, and so we have to go ahead until the very last matchday. It was really tough.
“But that’s the job. Nobody moaned. You cannot blame anybody, and we don’t try to. What we do instead is try to make the squad wider with similar quality and then try to make the next step together. Hopefully everybody can see that.”
“If you want to be successful in these competitions—Premier League, Champions League—then you need to have a wider squad. That’s what we are trying to do.”