“Make no bones about it; this is the biggest rebuilding job faced by a Liverpool manager since my Granddad in ’59.”
I don’t want to start my latest blog by sounding like the harbinger of doom, so at least give me a chance to offer some rational consensus on my opinion above. What I am trying to do is bring a sense of reality to the modern day football fan’s perspective.
The modern game and, by default, the modern fan, demands instant success, at times to farcical levels. When a new manager (and often a player, too) comes to a football club, there is, these days, an air of expectation that come equipped with a magic wand; something exacerbated when they come with a track record of success, as Jurgen Klopp has.
My point is that fans need to step back, take a reality check and examine the situation and the facts before they make a decision on when success is ‘expected’.
Jurgen Klopp is an exceptional manager. We all know that. He, on paper, comes across as someone who is completely in touch with the fans, and someone who would walk through walls for his players and his club. Dare I say, he has a touch of the Shankly about him.
But let us look at reality. He has inherited a squad from Brendan Rogers, which is one of the poorest, quality wise, in many, many years. For a majority of the years, we have spent since our last top division league title. We have been able to state with conviction that we have a least one world class player in our midst. At present, we can’t make such a claim.
There are perhaps two pretenders to that throne in Phil Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, but the former is inconsistent and the latter has yet to shake off the injury jinx tag. Roberto Firmino displays signs of ability, but is a work in progress, to say the least. If you were to ask me, with hand on heart, who from the current squad would you honestly state with 100% conviction that they needed to be part of the rebuilding process going forward, I wouldn’t be able to look past the three players listed above, and even they are touch-and-go for the reasons stated.
Outside of the playing side, the situation with owners remains a cause for concern. I’m not as hard on FSG as many people are. I don’t think they made any sweeping statements like Gillet or Hicks did. I think it was fairly transparent what their plan was. They are pure businessmen. They bought a commodity that was in debt, reduced and got it out of debt, whilst establishing a margin for it tmake profit, but are now looking, I’m sure, to sell it on for a profit as a business in good shape. THAT IS NOT TO SAY I AGREE WITH THIS; ON THE CONTRARY.
In an ideal world, football owners would be in it for the love of the game and their team; to build and develop it into a partnership with the fans, in an effort to make it the best it can be, and in a sustainable manner. Sadly, the world we live in, with modern football, means this is rare. I cast an envious eye to the Etihad in many ways. Grass isn’t always greener and all that, and who knows what the long term plan is, but the owners at Manchester City seem to have invested in a vision of development and success.
Refurbishment of the Etihad, construction of what can only be described as a small city on site neighbouring the ground that plays host to an academy, youth team stadium and training facilities, and, of course, what seems like unlimited funds available to improve the squad. It all seems very impressive. Too good to be true? Maybe. On the face of it, they seem to have a good deal and one that is worlds apart from where Liverpool currently find themselves.
Throw into the mix that the club currently has no guarantees at Champions League Football, and the knock on effect this has on attracting the best players, and it all serves to reinforce my point that Klopp has a huge task on his hands. One that he simply cannot achieve overnight. One that needs to be given a more than realistic timeframe to complete. I think my Granddad’s first game in charge ended in a 4-0 defeat. At home. To Cardiff. It took him two years to get them out of the second tier. He was given time, however, and look what happened there. The same applies to Alex Ferguson. I just hope the modern football fan remembers it!