Overdue and Overwhelmed

If you can’t prevent people from going to the beach on a glorious sunny day in June, there was no chance of stopping Liverpool fans from gathering in a large bubble to celebrate their Premier League title triumph.

While Jurgen Klopp may have waited just four and a half years for the title, the Kop have endured a 30 year drought.

During Liverpool’s glory years between 1976 and 1990 the club lifted the trophy 10 times. Adding this piece of silverware to the cabinet had become almost customary.

Since then, mishaps, tragedies and an ageing team had a major impact on the club’s dominance. Liverpool were unable to replicate the success of those years: with every near miss they seemed to slip further down the rankings in the season that followed. Clouds of disappointment, despair and doubts formed as dreams were tossed and blown.

This started to change when Liverpool went knocking on Jurgen Klopp’s door. Liverpool needed a dose of the qualities – charisma, skill, speed, energy, passion and optimism – Klopp brings. He understood what he would be taking on. A great club with big ambitions. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and Klopp could not resist.

The time was right to create a new identity and write a new chapter in the club’s history. From the moment Klopp arrived at Anfield in October 2015 he started to lay down the foundations for a brighter future.

It was like love at first sight. A match made in heaven.

Although the players took a while to adapt to the intensity they embraced Klopp’s ideologies. As workloads increased, so did the number of injuries. Klopp was criticised for driving the players too hard.

Klopp’s vision started to take shape as Liverpool became an exciting attacking team that never stopped running.

In 2018 his ability to lead teams to European cup success was questioned. But Klopp the pragmatic problem-solver silenced those who doubted him by guiding Liverpool to a Champions League victory in 2019.

Thoughtful and careful recruitment has paid off; the final pieces of the jigsaw slotting nicely into defence. The result is a strong and balanced unit.

The team we see today is the result of his commitment, belief, patience, persistence and leadership.

In March, with a 25 point advantage at the top of the league, nine matches to play and a maximum requirement of six points, it seemed just a matter of time before they would lift the trophy that had eluded them for so many years.

But, as coronavirus raged across the world at a phenomenal rate and the curtain came down on sport, there was a worry for Klopp and his crew that the season would be declared null and void with no champions. Imagine that. A simple label of recognition – would have been or deserving champions - the reward for all that time, effort and energy.

After considerable debate, the league restarted, the clouds finally dissipated and the title was secured in the strangest of settings. Spectating a match (in an empty stadium 200 miles away from the Kop) on television amidst a pandemic was not how the players or fans would have imagined it.

In an intense finish during last season’s battle Liverpool had relied on Manchester City to buckle under pressure. But, they didn’t. So it was a twist of irony last week when Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat by Chelsea secured the title for Liverpool.

An enormous sigh of relief reverberated around the football world. Klopp, who wears his heart on his sleeve, was overwhelmed and lost for words during his post-match interview. He has come to realise the enormity of what he has achieved with Liverpool and, his grin - as wide as the Mersey - tells it all.

Team celebrations have been contained and delayed because of lockdown restrictions.

In the meantime the season continues with seven games to play.  The mood will change as they return to business with a trip to Manchester City on Thursday. No doubt Klopp will be emphasising the importance of a positive outcome.

Klopp quite rightly refused to be side-tracked by statistics, but now the title is secured, he’ll be running an eye over the numbers as a platform to re-adjust this season’s goals.

The battle for supremacy continues... the Liverpool juggernaut must keep going to set the parameters for next season.

The young players whom Klopp has nurtured are in their prime; they gel together. That’s a magical feeling for players and coach. No wonder he feels lucky!