Matthew Johnson implores Liverpool fans to be patient and argues that a top four finish this season could be classified as a successful campaign.
After some very impressive form, including good results in the ‘big games’ home and away this season and joint first place in the Premier League, Liverpool fans have been raving about the possibility that this year could be the year they win their first league title. It is only October, however, and there are still a lot of points to be won. Liverpool may not yet be ready to mount a title challenge just yet.
Consistency has been one of the main problems with Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp coming into the 2016/17 season. A brilliant 4-3 performance away at Arsenal and then a 0-2 defeat away at Burnley a week later isn’t something the club can afford to do if they are to build a good squad that can win the league.
Despite recent form, Liverpool fans still think in the back of their heads: “what type of Liverpool team will I see today?” Are the fans going to be entertained thoroughly by a top class attacking performance scoring goals or will they cave in and be sloppy in every aspect of their game?
Having had difficulty breaking down the so-called ‘lesser teams’ so far this season, if Liverpool is going to be up there fighting for the league, these are the type of games you have to win. It is clear so far teams who put numbers behind the ball against the Merseyside club have performed much better at frustrating and stopping the flow of Klopp’s attacking players and this may lead to the German manager having to change the way they play.
Recently, Jose Mourinho surprisingly parked the bus with his Manchester United team, proving it’s not just the ‘small teams’ who will defend in numbers when they come up against Liverpool to stop the flow of their exciting attack. This could make teams become more defensively cautious when they play Liverpool as they are not proven yet to be able to break down teams who use this approach.
Midfielders must make sure they become more creative, especially with the likes of Jordan Henderson and Emre Can. The impressive trio of Mane, Coutinho and Firmino can’t have the responsibility on their own, they also need service and players behind them to be patient in play but not slow the tempo of the game down (which has happened several times before making it harder for attacking players to get into the flow).
This is something Liverpool will work on and over time, and whether they have the ability and experience yet to do it this season, is a question that needs to be answered.
When Jurgen Klopp took charge of Liverpool last October, the German said in his first press conference, “If I am sitting here in four years, we will win one title in this time.” Jurgen is a manager who likes to build teams over the long-term, using youth and turning good players into big name superstars.
Klopp has had one year at Liverpool now and during that time, he got rid of the ‘dead wood’ that didn’t suit his style, got rid of some youth he didn’t think were good enough and setting the foundation by buying players who suit his style. There were Liverpool fans who wanted Klopp to buy ‘top players’, however, that’s not how Jurgen works. He’s bought the likes of Joel Matip, Wijnaldum and Mane who have come in and impressed hugely.
Klopp’s second-year plan is to mould the new-look squad together and get them to work well consistently. This season sets a benchmark to hopefully challenge for the league title next year, where the team will know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, form partnerships and play effectively as a team.
This is exactly why Liverpool fans need to be patient and a top four finish this season (also possibly a cup trophy) would be classified as a successful campaign. Time will tell, however, whether Liverpool possesses the ability to challenge a year earlier than what Klopp expected.
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