Six weeks into his reign at Anfield and Jurgen Klopp already has more away wins versus the traditional ‘top four’ than his predecessor Brendan Rogers managed in three years at the club. This, it seems, is the difference a world class manager can make in a short space of time.
On Saturday, Klopp’s side, driven forward by the relentless running and effortless creativity of Brazilian duo Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, took title favourites Manchester City apart with a pulsating away performance. In all honesty the 4-1 scoreline was kind on City. The result could have been a lot more embarrassing had Liverpool built on their fast start with an equally clinical second half.
In a recent poll of Premier League fans Jurgen Klopp was found to be the manager that most would like at their clubs, and with each passing week it becomes easier to see why. The charismatic German has been a breath of fresh air at Anfield, revitalising a strong squad and applying his proven methods to a team in need of direction and inspiration. Since Klopp arrived in October, Liverpool have lost only once in the league, drawn with Tottenham and Southampton and beaten Chelsea and Manchester City away from home. Not at all a bad return from what looked to be a daunting run of introductory fixtures. Admittedly a dominant win at Chelsea in October was hardly a surprise given Jose Mourinho’s side’s recent form, but Liverpool’s dismantling of Manchester City on Saturday was a moment for Premier League fans to sit up and take notice.
Liverpool’s fast start was built on Klopp’s Gegenpressing philosophy, forcing errors from Manchester City’s defence, winning the ball high up the pitch and punishing mistakes with ruthless efficiency. Jamie Carragher afterwards claimed that Liverpool’s first half performance was ‘as good as anything I can remember’. Bold praise from a man with two decades of Premier League experience.
That Klopp has managed to implement his style of play less than two months into his tenure bodes well for Liverpool’s trajectory this season. Only six points off the Champions League places, fans will be hoping that the revival continues as the team becomes even more in tune with the new manager. Players who looked lost under Brendan Rogers are beginning to show their quality. Emre Can and new signing Roberto Firmino were outstanding, offering a glimpse of what fans will now be expecting on a consistent basis.
Another reason for optimism was the sight of long-term absentee Daniel Sturridge on the bench at the Etihad. Very much the forgotten man of English football, the talented striker will be a perfect fit for Klopp’s dynamic system. It remains to be seen whether he can sustain his fitness and win a place in the side. Sturridge didn’t make it off the bench on Saturday, but seeing him a few steps closer to the pitch is bound to add to the excitement building around Liverpool. After another convincing away victory, it’s fair to say that Klopp’s Liverpool have proved what a force they can be even without their talisman.