After joining Liverpool in October 2015 following the departure of Brendan Rodgers, Jürgen Klopp took Brendan’s Liverpool to two cup finals and has just completed his first full season with his own squad.
Jürgen and his Reds finished fourth in the Premier League, securing a place in the Champions League Qualifiers in August.
Liverpool began the season on a high, only losing two games before Christmas, both away from Anfield and against lowered-ranked teams. After a bleak few months at the start of 2017, the Reds did well to finish in the top four and securing their return to Europe next season, where they belong.
Everyone reviews the season the team and individual players have had, but just how well did the gaffer do in his first full season at Anfield?
Far from a flop
Klopp joined Liverpool over 19 months ago and has got Liverpool to two finals in just his first eight months. Since then, everyone had high expectations of the German in the Premier League, and Liverpool were definitely a force to be reckoned with at the start of the 2016/17 season.
Up to the new year, the Reds only lost two of their 19 games – an impressive feat for the team and the manager.
An impressive campaign for Liverpool in the EFL Cup saw them fly through the competition to the semi-final, where they lost both legs to bogey team Southampton in January.
In the first half of the season, Jürgen faced a few difficulties when it came to team selection. In the summer Klopp brought in seven players, including Sadio Mané, Gini Wijnaldum and Loris Karius. The transfers raised eyebrows of many fans, the Mané price tag in particular, but it didn’t take long for fans to back Jürgen’s decisions.
One decision definitely wasn’t the right one though.. or was it? Klopp favoured goalkeeper Loris Karius almost immediately, understandably as the ‘keeper was the Bundesliga’s second best goalkeeper at Mainz, just behind Manuel Neuer.
Karius came in as competition for Simon Mignolet, and took the No.1 spot as soon as he recovered from a broken hand he picked up in preseason. However, after a series of poor and unconvincing performances, he was dropped by Klopp in December and removed from the firing line after fierce criticism from pundits, including former Red Jamie Carragher and his colleague Gary Neville. As soon as Mignolet returned to the XI, Liverpool won 3-0.
Although people will criticise Klopp for making Karius his No.1, in that time Mignolet had improved significantly and has been pretty good during the second half of the season. As he said before, “every goalkeeper makes mistakes”. I stand by Jürgen for this decision, it benefitted the team.
Slipped from the top
Just two weeks into the second half of the season and Liverpool were slipping from the top. The Reds were just six points behind league leaders Chelsea for weeks before the end of the first half of the season, but it was definitely a season of two halves.
The second half of the season saw the Reds fall down the table and it took just four weeks for them to slip out of the top four. January saw them also slip out of the FA Cup and EFL Cup, and they were missing one key player.
Sadio Mané. The £30m man. The Senegalese superhero. Sadio left the Reds for the Africa Cup of Nations and missed a total of seven games in all competitions for Liverpool. This was something Jürgen was aware of when signing Mané from Southampton and so questions were raised as to why a replacement was not bought.
The bleak month of January saw only three points won in four games. The loss of Mané and injury for Coutinho was likely the main reason that Liverpool failed to stay in the title race that they were firmly in during the first half of the season.
Despite this, I think a lot of people had high expectations of Jürgen given what he did for Liverpool at the end of last season. The Reds got close to a trophy this season, but unfortunately fell short to Southampton, their feeder club, and also the team they failed to score a single goal against this season.
However, I think Jürgen has done his job and has finally got Liverpool back in the Champions League, where they rightfully belong. It was a tough season and many struggled, including Arsenal and Manchester United.
Klopp’s Reds were undefeated against their top six rivals this season, winning three and drawing three. In my opinion, I think that was brilliant. If Liverpool can beat the top teams in the Premier League, they can be worthy contenders in the Champions League next season. Onwards and upwards!!
How do you think Jürgen did this season? Comment below or tweet me.