This Premier League campaign has perfectly epitomised why many cite the English top tier as being the most competitive, entertaining and exciting in the world. Leicester City, who at one point last season were battling relegation, have secured an automatic Champions League place and are closing in on a title triumph.
Their fairytale story is almost complete, albeit with further chapters expected to be added next year. Yet still, many doubt the potential of Liverpool to be successful once more.
Jürgen Klopp’s ‘heavy metal’ approach to football is going to send shockwaves throughout the Premier League next season.
The vast majority of football fans expect Manchester City to be the dominating force in next season’s title race, with the arrival of Pep Guardiola imminent.
But Liverpool’s recent 4-3 comeback win over Klopp’s former side, Borussia Dortmund, was the epitome of the enthusiastic manager’s turnaround of the Reds and is a perfect example of how he plans to develop the Merseysiders in the coming years.[one_third last=”no”][boxads][/one_third]That result can be used as an analogy for his long-term aims for the club.
Having claimed a 1-1 away draw in Germany, Klopp’s said trailed 3-1 at one point in the second leg. Doubt set in, with rival fans sneering and jeering at the Anfield outfit.
3-2. Coutinho scored a beautiful goal, though it seemed to lack significance due to the monumental task ahead.
This can be likened to Klopp’s potential Europa League success. Although it would be special, it may seem underwhelming by comparison to the league crown or the Champions League.
3-3. Sakho scores.
Here, Liverpool stake their claim as genuine Premier League title contenders once again.
4-3. Lovren scores.
A dramatic comeback in a rapid series of events, returning from a relatively disappointing spell and moving onto bigger and better things, perhaps competing seriously in the Champions League again.
To be honest, it is actually quite remarkable what Klopp has achieved in such a short space of time.
He has completely revitalised and reinvigorated the squad at his disposal, which, it must be said, is arguably somewhat weaker than his previous squad at Dortmund.
Players like James Milner, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren have all been instrumental under Klopp, despite having been less than impressive under Brendan Rodgers.
Yet, as the comeback victory over his old club proves, team chemistry, unity and, dare I say it, passion can prove decisive. It is nothing unfamiliar to admirers of the Premier League, who have acknowledged the rise of Leicester and Tottenham this term.
That is not just the players’ and the manager’s passion, but also the passion of the Anfield faithful that seemingly played a huge role in the home leg of the Dortmund tie. Klopp’s enthusiasm has proved infectious, spreading to the fans via the players, and vice-versa.
To come in part-way through a campaign, inherit a group of players that just about managed to scrape a top-six finish in the previous season and take them to a Europa League semi-final is a remarkable achievement.
I salute Klopp for taking the Europa League a little more seriously than is conventional in England, for he is on the cusp of claiming a Champions League spot.
Louis Van Gaal, on the other hand, is seemingly still attempting – and struggling – to implement his philosophy at rivals Man United, yet Klopp, by comparison, has done it with relative ease.
That’s not to mention getting to the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City – an event which was ultimately decided by two average goalkeepers, the success of one to step up when necessary and the failure of the other. That goalkeeper is probably one of the first names that Klopp will look to replace.
On that note, it is probably worth acknowledging that Klopp will most certainly be backed financially in order to develop his team. Liverpool’s transfer policy has been questionable in recent years, having overpaid for players, bought poor players, and in some cases both.
But the Merseyside club’s decision to opt against throwing a £38m fee and a lucrative contract at Alex Teixeira in January suggests that they will no longer be held to ransom if the price, or player, isn’t right.
With the likes of Mario Götze, Granit Xhaka and Mahmoud Dahoud having already been linked, a possible big money takeover would mean Liverpool fans could be in for a treat next term. Players of that ilk – young, hungry and compatible with Klopp’s high-pressing tactics – are exactly what is required.
Klopp has already exhibited his ability to get the most out of his players. So next season could potentially be breath-taking if he manages to successfully strip his squad of deadwood, add in some new material and lay the foundations for future success.
Building a midfield around German international Emre Can would be a sensible idea as he has definitely shown his class under compatriot Klopp.
However, there are many different avenues that Klopp could take in order to mould his squad in the way that he wants. Whether he will opt for a three-man midfield or a double pivot remains to be seen.
Another factor to consider is that this summer will signify Klopp’s first pre-season at the club, having been appointed to replace the sacked Rodgers back in October, so it would be expected for him to experiment with his tactics, formations and players.
But one thing is certain: Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho ought to constitute his attack.
With an average age between them of just over 24, the trio could potentially be lethal and cause serious damage for many years to come.
And with Götze having been touted with a summer switch, a 4-2-3-1 formation with the Bayern star incorporated alongside the three aforementioned would be world class.
Klopp’s football might seem melodic right now, but he will undoubtedly return to his heavy metal, ground-breaking, earth-shaking, high-pressing style next season.
By Jordan-Luke McDonald