Jurgen Klopp had a 2021 to remember in one of the strangest years he’ll ever experience – with Liverpool or otherwise. The boss admits he learned a lot over the last 12 months.
How do you review Jurgen Klopp’s year? It’s a tough one – he effectively managed two Liverpool teams across 2021.
The first half of the year saw him try to hold a broken squad together as they underwent their worst run of form in a decade. The second had Klopp working with one of the best squads on the planet.
So let’s treat it that way and take each season in isolation.
Jurgen Klopp kicks off 2021 with a whimper
No Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomez. Joel Matip would be gone by the end of January and Jordan Henderson by mid-February. Diogo Jota didn’t return from a lengthy problem until late in the opening month, while Thiago was still trying to get up to speed after his problem.
Also, Liverpool couldn’t score goals – everyone except Mohamed Salah, anyway. The entire team was a broken mess, with Fabinho having to cover at the back, leaving a hole in midfield and destroying any cohesion.
Klopp had a choice here and, unfortunately, he got it wrong to start the year. The boss admits that, though, saying he made mistakes.[When you] lose a centre-half it’s like breaking a leg, but if you put the midfielders then in the last line and open up other gaps then you break your spine and all of a sudden you cannot walk anymore,” he said, per Liverpoolfc.com.
“That’s exactly like it was last year. It was not a lost season, I learned more than in other seasons, but it was a difficult season and finishing that season in third position is an absolutely exceptional achievement, to be honest.”
And so it’s hard to judge Klopp. On the one hand, he got things wrong and Liverpool lost game after game. On the other, he learned from his mistakes, fixed the problem and somehow pulled off Champions League qualification.
Honestly, we’ll cut him all the slack in the world – it was an unprecedented injury crisis. The way Klopp eventually turned it around was quite stunning, putting his trust in Fabinho to cover a wildly inexperienced centre-back pairing.
It was magic – in the end.
Liverpool are flying
This season saw everyone return from injury but that also brought about another problem. Yes, the stars were back but could Liverpool really get back to their best? The Reds lost all momentum and would have to rely on players returning from serious injuries.
Again, though, Klopp has Liverpool flying. They’re scoring goals for fun, winning game after game and while it took a couple of months, they look a lot like the title-winning team of 2020.
That’s quite incredible from Klopp. The title winners thrived on momentum but it disappeared last season. In just a few short months, however, the boss has it back.
From losing every game to start the year, it really feels as though a title could be on its way again. And for that, Klopp can only get a perfect grade for his 2021.