Jurgen Klopp has finally taken charge of a pre season as Liverpool manager. It seems like an age since Klopp took over at Anfield, but ever since day one, we’ve said that any judgement of the German would have to take place once he had the chance to put his stamp on the club and its training methods.
With no Europe on the horizon, this season is about building a team – next season will be about adding depth to deal with the demands of European football, or so they hope.
In his first few months at the club, Klopp brought Liverpool to two cup finals. Such instant success is a transformation of the stale club he took over from Brendan Rodgers, but that might also bring expectation to a squad that currently looks weaker than many of their big-name rivals.
But without European football this season, that might not be a terrible thing. Liverpool will be hoping for the kind of searing performances seen in 2013/14 when they came within a planted stud of the Premier League title, but they won’t need a large squad – just a united one.
Although they were outclassed in both finals, had things gone differently Klopp could have won two trophies in his debut season and that bodes well for the rest of his tenure. Success this season may not require trophies, though it will over the next few seasons.
This season is about getting the club on the right footing to challenge for Europe again regularly and get back to winning domestic trophies with the same regularity.
At first glance, Liverpool’s summer looks slightly underwhelming, or at least it does when you stack it up against their bigger-spending rivals. The players brought in are a little ‘second-tier’ compared to the signings at City, United and Chelsea.
But it’s also the case that Liverpool haven’t really been in the market for those big names, and the way they’ve gone about their business has been impressive. Deals for Joel Matip and Loris Karius were concluded even before the start of the window, whilst Sadio Mane was an early purchase, allowing him to spend a full pre season getting to know his teammates and improving his fitness.
Liverpool’s approach this summer may have been quiet, but they’ve clearly planned it months in advance, and that sort of organisation usually leads to success.
Whilst Liverpool may not have the saturation of star names that some of their rivals have, it will be teamwork that allows the squad to improve and progress – you can do that when your coach masters both the man-management and tactical sides of the game as well as Klopp.
Liverpool do, however, possess the gifts of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. If Klopp can keep Sturridge fit and keep Coutinho firing at a high level, they’ll have the creativity to match anyone, and the finishing ability to make it count.
He was part of the Germany squad who got to the semi finals of the Euros this summer, and a player who is improving year on year, but Emre Can is approaching a period in his Liverpool career where he needs to make role in the team his own.
Versatility is always a good thing, but Can is a player who floats around the centre back, full back and defensive midfield roles – three fairly specialised jobs where you generally want a first choice player.
At 22, Can is still young, and if he can establish himself as a disciplined holding midfielder who can start attacks from deep, he can provide the perfect platform for the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino to roam in front of him.