By Max Chaytor
After Liverpool’s confident 0-3 win over Burnley at a tricky Turf Moor on Saturday, it gave fans a
stark reminder of just how far Liverpool have come since the dark days of the past. Gone are the
days of losses to Crystal Palace at home; humiliated by West Ham away; and even recent struggles
such as Leicester at home last season. Ever since the Nou Camp loss, Liverpool have found another
gear, and just at the right time. Winning 2 out of the 3 trophies possible (thanks only to a penalty
shootout loss), Klopp’s Reds have been ruthless in every single way.
I’m not normally one for comparisons, but I’m going to draw one anyway. This was the team that LFC
put up in a 2-1 Wembley defeat to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final in April 2015:
Mignolet; Lovren; Skrtel; Can; Moreno; Allen; Henderson; Markovic; Coutinho; Gerrard; Sterling.
You look at that team and think of that time; you cannot help but think of the boring, dull, slow build
up play. The hopeless defending, and the inconsistent keeping from our Simon. It was a dark time.
And even though Aston Villa had a decent squad back then, with the likes of a prime Christian
Benteke, Fabian Delph and a young and exciting Jack Grealish. But it was still a game Liverpool
expected to win. And a few weeks after this, in Steven Gerrard’s last game for the club, Stoke City
embarrassed LFC and Rodgers 6-1. If you ever complain that Liverpool didn’t score enough in a 0-3
win, remember where we once were. It’s not hard to see why John Henry pulled the plug on Rodgers
after a draw in the Merseyside Derby. Liverpool were going backwards after the sales of Luis Suarez
a year before, Raheem Sterling the summer just gone and the retirement of Steven Gerrard, the
mounting injuries with the off-colour Daniel Sturridge, the weakening defence capabilities of Martin
Skrtel and Dejan Lovren, the inconsistency of Alberto Moreno and Simon Mignolet and the lack of
serious attacking threat (Lazar Markovic, Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, Mario Balotelli etc.) It really
was a disaster, and had Jurgen Klopp not stepped in when he did, god knows where LFC would’ve
finished that season.
And although Klopp obviously didn’t work miracles that season with an 8 th place Premier League
finish, LFC were runners up in the League Cup to Man City and Europa League, and showed real
progress under the German. However, critics obviously believed that change would happen almost
immediately. But everyone knew that this major transformation under Klopp would take 2-3 seasons
at least. The next goal was to reach Champions League football, and then bag a trophy, then a major
one, such as the Champions League or Premier League. But it would take time. In 2016/17, there
were still defensive mishaps, but LFC were cleaner. Sharper. Ruthless. They won games convincingly,
especially with the likes of Sadio Mane on fire, and Roberto Firmino finding his feet. And then finally,
after 3-0 win at home to Middlesbrough, LFC qualified for the Champions League after a 4th place
finish, thanks mainly to the fact that LFC were not playing in Europe during this season.
But for 2017/18, Klopp needed signings if he really wanted to move this LFC team forward. He
brought players such as Andy Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Salah to the club,
who made huge impacts particularly in the clubs’ run in the Champions League, beating Guardiola’s
Man City home and away during that, losing only to the last great Real Madrid team with Cristiano
Ronaldo in the final in Kiev. But the club made such a huge step that season, that It was clear to see
that Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool would soon be a formidable force in Europe. Fancied again for
Champions League success in 2018/19 season, and surprise favourites for the league title, Klopp’s
men were under pressure to do well. Kiev was his 3 rd final with Liverpool, and he was yet to win a
trophy with the club going into his 3 rd full season with the club.
After signing Virgil van Dijk in January 2018 for a World record £75 million fee, Liverpool also
splashed out on Alisson for £66 million and Naby Keita for £48 million, but all this came about
because of Phillipe Coutinho for £142 million. People criticised Klopp for letting Coutinho go so
easily, but when a player is so unsettled, it can impact on the rest of the squad. We saw it in 2014
with Luis Suarez, sometimes a player just wants to leave. But everyone at the club wanted to prove
Coutinho wrong. Maybe Klopp should’ve replaced him; maybe it would’ve won Liverpool the league.
But hindsight is a wonderful thing. And to go on such an amazing journey with Klopp, from 8 th place
finishes to Champions League winners and Premier League challengers, it really is an incredible rise
through the ranks, all thanks to Jurgen Klopp.