Jurgen Klopp’s honeymoon period is over.
The German coach has been at Anfield since October and has had the chance to assess who he wants to keep at Liverpool, who can go, and the type of player that he wants to bring in.
Players coming in means spending and for the calibre of player Klopp requires to play his way, it means serious amounts of cash. In turn that means that expectation will be high and all eyes will be on the enigmatic 49-year-old in 16/17.
The Liverpool is likeable and gets on with the media and the fans, and has built a foundation for a long stay on Merseyside, but with his rivals bringing in big name coaches and equally spending money on individual players that some clubs spend on four or five, Klopp could still be some way off the league crown.
As West Ham’s Slaven Bilic said, someone will be outside of the top four.
“The managers like Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte, Arsene Wenger, there are five of them and one has to finish fifth,” he told the Daily Mail.
“If they are the top five – one of them is going to get slaughtered and they are all big names.”
No one wants to be the fifth, but should Liverpool be that club, it would represent a better season and a place in Europe, so it would be unlikely that Klopp would be ‘slaughtered.’
When Klopp was introduced as Liverpool manager he revealed one of his priorities was to “turn doubters into believers”.
After their Europa League run to the final last year, many were fast becoming believers, but the Premier League is still the most important trophy to Liverpool fans, starved of success after an illustrious history.
Speaking to reporters after his unveiling as Liverpool manager last year, Klopp confronted the heightened expectation surrounding his appointment, saying “I don’t walk on water.”
One of the key expectations is that Klopp will employ the fast-moving, hyper-effective attacking football that saw him make his name at Borussia Dortmund. With the players coming in now his players, Liverpool fans can look forward to a new era at Anfield.
The famous “This Is Anfield” sign has greeted players on the path to the pitch for decades, many touch it for luck and Klopp even did so himself on a visit to the stadium for a friendly when he was coach of Borussia Dortmund.
It carries an aura, but Klopp has put a banning order on his players, saying: “I’ve told my players you need to win something before you touch the ‘This Is Anfield’. It’s a sign of respect. You don’t do it – it is too big.”
The job ahead is huge. To bring back to life a stagnant Liverpool team that has flattered to deceive in recent years. Within touching distance of the Premier League crown not so far back, it has been elusive before and since.
Jurgen Klopp is under no illusion about what he’s taken on and he’s passed that thinking onto his players.
The Anfield boss has told Liverpool ‘s band of new signings: “If your attitude is right, you’ll flourish at this club.”
Klopp has welcomed seven signings into his squad this summer and each has been told: “Be down to earth and work hard. We chose you because of your quality.”
“It’s all about attitude. If your attitude is right then everything will be good this season.”
Sound advice. Let the season unfold.