Time flies when you’re having fun watching a team of likable, talented athletes playing high-quality football, and in three weeks’ time, it will be a full four years since Jürgen Klopp — nominally supposed to be taking a full year off from football — signed on the dotted line as Liverpool manager.
When the German arrived at Anfield — replacing current Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers — the Reds sat 10th in the table, having finished 6th the previous year after failing to follow-up on their ultimately unfruitful title chase in 2014. Although the former Dortmund manager only managed an 8th place league finish, League Cup and Europa League final appearances along with improved purpose and quality to their play improved the mood around Melwood, and Klopp signed a six-year extension on his deal in the summer.
Since then, improvements have been remarkably consistent, with the Reds climbing the domestic table every year, as well as making consecutive Champions League final appearances, largely on the back of the manager’s tactical astuteness, and the club’s newfound inability to miss in the transfer market.
“In football, there are two ways to improve,” the 52 year-old told The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce replacement, Paul Gorst. “One is to sign good players and the second is training, but having time together is always good. You don’t have time together in football, usually, but we had it then, which was really good.
”We don’t start at minus 20 and say ‘by the way, set-piece, we do this, we do that’ and you have to explain to six players and you think ‘oh God!’”, he continued in typical fashion.
“Having a basis is brilliant, but you need world-class players and if they are not world-class already, they need the world-class potential. That is what we need at a club like Liverpool.”
Certainly, the combination of signing world-class talent — often at a premium cost — that fits the playing style perfectly, and elevating young or undervalued players into genuine top-shelf athletes has worked a treat for the Reds. While the quality of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker was apparent to many — although not all — upon their arrival, but few would have expected the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Joël Matip, and Georginio Wijnaldum to be decisive contributors on a Champions League winning squad.
Maintaining a squad capable of winning trophies is a continuous task, and while the Reds have built a team that is one of the very best on the planet right now, the next undertaking will be ensuring that the process that got them here won’t interrupted. Luckily, they seem to have the right man for the job.