Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp’s decision to step away from the job at season’s end might give his players the extra incentive required to kick on to a second League title under his management, and has also given cause for reflection on just how much has changed since his 2015 arrival.
In the week since his announcement a flood of graphics of his early Liverpool starting XI’s have cropped up online, a reminder of just how rudimentary his playing stocks were on arrival and testament to the overhaul he conducted to see them crowned European Champions within five years, one of seven trophies thus far.
But former Reds defender Stephen Warnock believes Klopp’s greatest achievement is the revival he conducted on the streets of Liverpool, less obvious and harder to quantify than a star signing banging in goals, but arguably more important to the soul of a football club.
‘When you think of where Liverpool were when he joined, there was a real disconnect between the club and fans. Any game you went to, you could get a ticket on the day, because people were unimpressed with what was going on on the pitch.
‘From his first press conference he had an aura about him. Then people saw him in and around the city, he was engaging, had time for them. He’d sit in the pub with his dog, having a beer, and people got to know him and like him.
‘Whenever he spoke on politics, or on behalf of the city, he often got it right. That connection with the people of the city was hugely important. He’s brought the fans back and connected them all, back with the club.
Liverpool’s sixth European crown in 2019 and their drought-breaking, maiden Premier League title in 2019/20 will stand as the core pillars of his legacy, and a second League title (Manchester City trail by five points, although with a game in hand) would cap his tenure in fairytale fashion.
‘It was the elusive trophy they couldn’t get hold of. They’d been so close with Brendan Rogers, Rafa Benitez, Gérard Houllier, but it never felt like it was really in their grasp. If he’d have just won that [League title] he’d go down as a great at Anfield, but there was also everything that came with it.
‘With the points tallies he had, he could potentially have had two-to-three more, but for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola. But that’s also what drove him, that rivalry, and it’s such a shame we won’t see it anymore.
‘We’ve witnessed an incredible Liverpool side the last 8½ years, the stuff fans could only have dreamt about when he came into the football club.’