Another season, another mediocre Liverpool start. Life post-Suarez has yielded little. The man scripted to fill his void is in treatment more than on turf. Brendan Rodgers (may his character rest in peace) has wasted millions on failing, baby-faced ‘prodigies’ from far-flung leagues. Yet again, us Never-Walk-Alone-ers have to bear the likes of Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva, patrolling a midfield once occupied by Gerrard and Alonso. My tears could fill the Mersey twice over.
Rodgers, the epitome of a managerial enigma, has gone. It was only a matter of time. Eccentric German Jürgen Klopp has been roped in as his replacement, hailed by many as the bespectacled saviour to another campaign of woe. So what’s so special about the ‘Normal One’?
Let’s look at previous form. He took the reins at Dortmund in 2008, inheriting a mid-table team full of relative underachievers. Sound familiar? He won them the German Cup that season, but it would take a further two before a league title found its way north of the Rhine. One title became two the following year, but after that the dominance of Bayern Munich began to take its toll. A couplet of second places should by no means be frowned upon, however I find Dortmund’s last campaign worrying. Bottom of the league at Christmas.
Following the announcement of Klopp’s imminent departure, they eventually recovered to a relatively comfortable seventh, still a fair stretch from the glory days that preceded. As one seemingly does at the end of a lengthy managerial stretch, he took a mini-sabbatical to gather his thoughts and, presumably, invest in more pairs of hipster spectacles. I think that’s a bit unfair; I’d like to see the look on my tutor’s face if I announced I was taking a few months out to ‘assess my education options’. Imagine mechanics, bricklayers and so on all jetting off to the south of France for a while to ‘recharge’. I digress.
I could talk about the curious case of Brendan Rodgers for hours, but for the sanity of all concerned I shall be brief. You cannot come to one of the biggest football clubs in the world, spend millions on squad ‘improvements’, and hail your best achievement to be nearly winning a league title. He wouldn’t have even managed that without Uruguay’s answer to Lionel Messi. A meagre 3 wins in his first 10 games this season had to nudge him towards the exit; mercifully it did. Immediately Klopp was the word on everyone’s lips.
Having also been linked with the more proven, if a little elderly, Carlo Ancelotti, I felt a slight tinge of disappointment when Klopp was presented to the press. Whether because of Klopp’s decline, whether because of Ancelotti’s track record, I just felt the latter would’ve been a safer option. Can we afford to take another risk?
Five points from his first four games (including the taking-apart of a dismal Chelsea side) is by no means poor, but it’s hardly world-beating. If he is to be the saviour then it will definitely take time, as at Dortmund, so unfortunately Merseyside’s red contingent must be patient and optimistic once more. A squad overhaul is essential – he can start by packing the ‘Welsh Xavi’ back off to the valleys.
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