With Jürgen Klopp celebrating his 50th birthday yesterday, Jack Hallows picks 50 of the most defining moments of our manager’s Liverpool FC career so far.
Jürgen Klopp is 50.
While he’ll no doubt be enjoying his time away from football this month – he’s currently in his home country and just held his big 50th birthday party – here’s a reminder of some of his most defining days as Liverpool manager so far.
A strong arrival
When Jürgen Klopp was announced as Liverpool manager, the fanbase went into hysterics – for all the right reasons. The German said all the right things in his early press conferences and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he was pictured wondering around Anfield with the owners.
Doubters to believers
It didn’t take long for Klopp to give his first interview for LFCTV and it was a memorable one. The German stated his hope to convert Reds fans from “doubters to believers” and from that moment, he had the fanbase eating out of his hand.
The first game
After an indifferent start to the season under Brendan Rodgers that had seen poor results, tactical confusion and poor performances even when we did win, it was nice to see the early glimpses of Klopp’s philosophy.
The German made his managerial debut away to Spurs and despite the game ending in a 0-0 draw, optimism was instilled from the beginning.
The Klopp hug
We didn’t know it at the time, but when Adam Lallana left the field at White Hart Lane having been substituted and collapsed into the embrace of his manager, it was about to start a trend that practically every Liverpool fan on the planet wants to be a part of one day.
A Klopp hug.
The first goal
Emre Can. At Anfield. Against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League. Only fitting really that the first goalscorer of Klopp’s Liverpool reign would be a German.
The first win
1-0. The League Cup. Bournemouth. At Anfield. Klopp never claimed to be a miracle worker, knowing it would take time before the Reds became a fluent, winning machine but his first League Cup outing saw him walk away with his first Liverpool win courtesy of a rare goal from Nathaniel Clyne.
Conquering Stamford Bridge – Part 1
Just 3 days after his first Liverpool win, the German was treated to his first Premier League win. What a win it was. Despite going 1-0 down within the first 3 minutes to a Ramires header, Klopp’s men fought back to hammer Jose Mourinho’s struggling Chelsea side through a brace from Philippe Coutinho and a misery compiler from Christian Benteke.
Crystal Palace loneliness
Despite most people often first referring to the “doubters to believers,” quote when talking about Klopp’s Liverpool reign so far, this was perhaps his best.
Crystal Palace had just come and done a job at Anfield for the second season in a row, managing a 2-1 win despite a goal from Philippe Coutinho and as soon as the Eagles had netted their second, the stadium began to empty.
After the game, the German called for fans to stay behind the team until the final whistle every week and said in his press conference: “The goal came after 82 minutes. Twelve minutes to go, and I saw many people leaving the stadium. I turn around and saw them go. I felt pretty alone at this moment! We decide when it’s over. Between 82 and 94 minutes, you can make eight goals if you want! But you have to work for it.”
Manchester City who?
If the 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge was pleasing, the away game at the Etihad was footballing ecstasy. The Reds blew away Manuel Pellegrini’s men with a brutal opening half hour that saw Mangala turn a cross into his own net before Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino both capped off stellar team moves with simple finishes.
Sergio Aguero got one back for the Citizens, but it said everything you needed to know about the Reds dominance that Martin Skrtel sent a thunderous half volley into the top corner for four.
Running riot at Southampton
It seemed to be a running trend in Klopp’s first few months that the Reds would go 1-0 down in a large percentage of their games, impressively however, they were finding a new resolution to fight back and get something from them. Southampton in the League Cup was one shining example.
Despite Sadio Mane’s opener in the first five minutes, a brace from Daniel Sturridge and a Divock Origi hat-trick contributed to the Reds absolutely thumping Southampton 6-1 and progressing to the next round.
West Brom celebration
When Klopp lined his team up and celebrated the crowd staying and supporting until the final winner after a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion thanks to a lucky, deflected, 96th minute Origi strike, the internet found it hilarious. Many misconceived the action as celebrating the result, however, there was more to it.
For the first time in a long time, Anfield had stayed united behind the team until the final whistle and there had been a belief that the Reds would get something from the game, even as the match entered it’s final seconds.
Remember, remember, the month of December
Klopp’s first December as Liverpool manager was an absolute shit-show.
We were ‘treated’ to perhaps the worst performance under the German to date against Watford at Vicarage Road as the Hornets embarrassed the Reds with a 3-0 victory, while eventually relegated Newcastle also found the time to hand Klopp’s team a beating.
It may have taken a replay to get past Exeter in the FA Cup but it wasn’t all a negative.
Klopp showed his preference for giving youth players a chance, fielding an XI that included the likes of Sheyi Ojo, Brad Smith, Kevin Stewart and Jerome Sinclair and while not all have gone on to have futures at the club, it was a refreshing vote of confidence from the German.
I was at this game and I can confirm that the scenes inside Carrow Road were unlike any other I’ve personally been a part of in my history of supporting Liverpool Football Club. The opponent may only have been Norwich – who were eventually relegated – but to go 1-0 up, 3-1 down, 4-3 up and eventually win 5-4 with the final kick of the game was just so… Liverpool.
The celebrations when Adam Lallana’s left footed volley found the far corner can only be described as madness as Klopp ran onto the field, followed by the entirety of Liverpool’s bench and staff. Shame about his broken glasses!
Signing a defender
Joël Matip didn’t join the Reds until the summer transfer window had officially opened but the shrewd signing of the Cameroonian centre back was confirmed in July as Klopp managed to snap him up on a pre-contract. Despite a number of injuries, his first campaign was a certain success.
Hasta La-Villa… Baby
Okay that title was terrible, I’m sorry, but Liverpool’s biggest win to date under the German came in February, 2016 at Villa Park. The Reds coasted to a 6-0 mauling of Aston Villa in one of the most complete performances we’ve seen under Klopp and it was nice to see a total of 6 goal scorers on the day with even Kolo Toure chipping in!
League Cup heartache
The Reds entered their first of two finals under the German in February of 2016 and sadly, things didn’t go as hoped. Coutinho’s late strike cancelled out Fernandinho’s opener but the Citizens were simply better during the penalty shootout and it was Yaya Toure who sank the final dagger into Reds fans hearts.
If we’d had any reservations about playing City again just 3 days after the League Cup final defeat, they were calmed very early on. Adam Lallana’s left footed strike opened the scoring before an attacking masterclass from a front three of Milner, Firmino and Lallana saw the Reds run rings around the Citizens for the second time that season. 3-0, job done.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87_15z_ydnA[/embedyt]
Manchester United – Part 1
The Reds Europa League campaign had been rumbling along slowly but surely all season, with a number of tight, low-scoring games defining their group stage before a James Milner penalty was enough to put them past Augsburg. Just our luck then that the Reds would come up against domestic rivals Manchester United – who had already completed a league double over us in the Premier League – in the Round of 16.
An early penalty scored by Daniel Sturridge was a good start and by the time Firmino put the final nail in the Red Devils coffin in the second half, things were looking good for Liverpool.
Manchester United – Part 2
The Reds went into the second leg knowing one goal would be enough to force United to have to score four to go through. It didn’t start well, with Anthony Martial netting a first half penalty but the home side’s celebrations didn’t last long. Enter Philippe Coutinho.
As he has so often under Klopp, the Brazilian stepped up to produce a scintillating piece of magic, leaving his defender for dead and dinking a helpless De Gea to score one of the best goals I’ve ever seen. Onto the next one.
It was again, simply just our luck that we would do all the hard yards to get past Manchester United and be drawn to face Klopp’s old side, Dortmund, in the next round.
What followed was simply incredible and can only be described in one sentence: “Sturridge. Back to Milner, can he cross? LOOOOOOVREEEEEEEEEN!”
A purple bin tactical masterclass
How do you beat Dortmund when you’re 2-0 down?
“We had a good plan in the first half but conceded two goals, so you can throw your plan in the purple bin.”
Merseyside derby dominance – Part 1
Klopp’s first Merseyside derby probably couldn’t have gone much better. Other than Origi sustaining a nasty injury at the hands of Everton defender Funes Mori, the game went entirely Liverpool’s way as they ran out 4-0 victors. Goals from Origi, Sakho, Sturridge and Coutinho confirmed the dominance but perhaps the most incredible statistic was that the Reds took over 40 shots on goal across the 90 minutes.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7fdBbG5mug[/embedyt]
Even Lucas got in the act, prompting a brilliant reaction from our manager.
Villarreal at home
The Reds had been beaten 1-0 away after a toothless performance and a slip in concentration towards the final seconds of the game cost them dearly and things really didn’t look good going into the home leg. Such is the confidence in Klopp though that the fanbase was still hopeful of a big rise from the players and they certainly got one.
3-0. Job done.
Europa League Heartbreak
There’s no other word to describe it. I was heartbroken. Truly, one hundred percent heartbroken. I watched the final on a long distance bus trip in New Zealand and I’ve only ever felt that gutted once – in 2013/14 when Stevie slipped.
Klopp claimed the squad would learn from the experience and react. next season would be different. We’d missed out on the Champions League but there would be no such mistakes allowed next time round.
Mané and Wijnaldum. Need I say more?
His attempt at the Sturridge
Still better than Moreno’s I guess? (4.07 is what you’re looking for)[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8KPn_jf6lk[/embedyt]
The Mamadou Sakho situation got ugly last summer as the Frenchman’s antics evidently got too much for Klopp who in turn, banished him from the first team. It was a shame really, as a partnership of Matip and Sakho could’ve been so, so good.
It was an interesting decision to schedule two friendlies on back to back days in different countries from the club and the two games couldn’t have played out any more differently if they tried.
A 4-0 victory at Wembley over an FC Barcelona team containing Messi, Suarez and the like was followed by a 4-0 defeat to FSV Mainz. Incredible scenes.
Opening day adrenaline
Get that in you, Arsenal.
The Reds started the 2016/17 season with another ridiculous game, recovering from a 1-0 deficit to go 4-1 up either side of half time before nearly blowing it by conceding two further goals.
New stand, new players… Welcome home
The Reds had to wait until match day four of the Premier League to take to the Anfield pitch in front of the new stand and they gave it the perfect christening with a 4-1 victory over reigning champions Leicester.
Conquering Stamford Bridge – Part 2
Having eventually walked to a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge the season prior, there was big expectation heading into this Friday night clash. You have to hand it to our lot, they dominated the match.
Lovren put Klopp’s men ahead with a well taken volley 20 minutes in before Jordan Henderson hit one of the strikes of the season to beat Courtois from all of 30 yards. Even though Diego Costa pulled one back after half time, the result was never in doubt.
See ya Simon
Klopp made the brave call to throw new signing Loris Karius straight into first team action as soon as he’d recovered from a broken hand injury and unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan. The German was shaky at best whenever he turned out for the Reds and his confidence seemed to have taken a massive hit. His distribution was good though.
Liverpool FC 6 – 1 Watford
I’m going to mention this one simply because it was the best performance that the Reds put together all season.
Troy Deeney said his side were ready to go to war with the Reds but they were mowed down brutally in a game that was so one sided it was beyond belief. The Reds scored 6 on the day but it could easily have hit double figures had the cross bar not been so willing to be rattled.
Under Klopp we’d become accustomed to seeing mental games of football that ended with crazy 4-3, 5-4, 3-3 scorelines and the like but so far, it had always worked in our favour.
That all changed at the Vitality Stadium in December, 2016, when the Reds threw a 3-1 lead spectacularly to hand Bournemouth a 4-3 victory in front of their home crowd.
The return of Mignolet
After numerous gaffs in between the sticks, karius was taken out of the firing line once again to make way for Simon Mignolet’s return. The Belgian looked a new man for much of the remainder of the season and kept an impressive three clean sheets in his first four games back in the side. He would finish the campaign conceding just two goals in his final five appearances.
Mané the main man on Merseyside
90 frustrating minutes of football were all swept under the rug as Sadio Mané continued on his path to Liverpool hero as he scored the winner in Klopp’s first Goodison derby with practically the final kick of the game.
Oh Gini Gini!
Gini Wijnaldum would take up a reputation across the 2016/17 season as being a man for the big occasion – especially at Anfield – and it all started on New Years Eve. The Dutchman leapt like a salmon to buullet home an Adam Lallana cross with his forehead and hand the Reds a 1-0 victory over Guardiola’s Manchester City to end the calendar year.
Klopp 1 – 0 Pep.
The wheels on the bus go falling off
We won’t say too much about January other than the fact that it was an absolute nightmare.
The one positive that did come from that awful month was in Liverpool’s single victory from nine efforts. Lucas Leiva was given the armband away to Plymouth and responded dutifully, scoring the only goal of the game when he nodded in a Coutinho corner at the near post.
Battle of the pressing giants
Klopp had come up against Spurs three times in the league prior to their February visit to Anfield and drawn all three games. Sadio Mané had other ideas this time round though as his scintillating brace highlighted just how important he is to Klopp’s system and handed the Reds a vital 2-0 victory.
4-3 at the Emirates.
3-1 at Anfield.
Need I say more?
Loves a derby
3 derbies. 3 wins.
The first Liverpool manager to achieve the feat ever.
A tactical ‘masterclass’ at Stoke
Love the plan Jürgen. Start the kids, let Stoke go 1-0 up and let their guard down, then bring on Firmino and Coutinho to score worldies and win the game.
That’s exactly how it went and I won’t take any other theories as an answer.
Finding a way
While the easy on the eye football of the Autumn was fantastic to watch, it was just as pleasing to see the Reds continually grind out good results in their final ten games of the season. Whether it was set pieces at West Brom or wonder goals at Watford, Klopp’s men showed they weren’t going to give up their top four place without a real fight.
London? Completed it mate.
Liverpool ended the 2016/17 season undefeated in London, having drawn at White Hart Lane and emerged victorious from the Emirates, Stamford Bridge, London Stadium, Selhurst Park and Vicarage Road.
What a superb stat.
Coutinho in central midfield
It’s something a lot of fans have been calling for since Luis Suarez was still at the club and Klopp finally gave it a go in the Reds final two games of the season.
The Brazilian was fielded as the left sided number 8 in a 4-4-2 diamond formation and to say it was a success would be an understatement. Coutinho ran riot at London stadium, scoring twice and assisting Sturridge’s opener before netting a sublime free kick against Middlesbrough, finishing the season strongly. A precursor to next season perhaps?
The top four is ours!
Liverpool confirmed their top four finish in style on the final day of the 2016/17 season as goals from Gini Wijnaldum, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana sunk Middlesbrough and condemned them to a fittingly miserable end to a miserable campaign.
The fourth place finish felt like a missed opportunity to some given the Reds were first in the Autumn but in the bigger picture the accomplishment was huge. Klopp had hardly spent in the summer window – in comparison to the likes of United and City – and had managed to finish above Mourinho and Wenger in what was called by many a “changing of the guard.”
Let’s hope it continues.
The Van Dijk saga?
Oh shut up and leave it out.
THAT dance in Australia
He loves a good boogey does our manager.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgWipBSlOhs[/embedyt]
Let us know below, what’s your favourite Jürgen Klopp moment at Liverpool so far?