European Super Cup win proves Jurgen Klopp has banished ghosts of the past

The sight of Jurgen Klopp sprinting across the pitch at the sound of the full time whistle is one we, as football fans, have witnessed more than once over the last year or so. Indeed, the German coach has done a lot of winning of late and he kept that trend going by leading Liverpool to the European Super Cup on Wednesday night.

It wasn’t as convincing a win as the victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the final of last season’s Champions League, only seeing off Chelsea in a penalty shootout, but nonetheless, it was a result that saw Liverpool get their hands on a second piece of silverware in the space of just a few months.

Some people see the European Super Cup as nothing more than a glorified friendly. There is something in that, but victory in Istanbul on Wednesday night proved that Klopp has banished the ghosts of the past. The German has become a hardened winner over the past year to 18 months.

This was always the criticism of Klopp – for all that he had turned around the fortunes of Liverpool, he had still win a title until last season. Worse still, there was a common suggestion that the Reds froze on the big stage, that Klopp lacked the necessary quality to get his team over the line when it mattered most.

Of course, winning the Champions League last season quelled these criticisms, but beating Chelsea in the European Super Cup went some way to proving that it wasn’t a fluke. That Liverpool now have that trait that all legendary teams have – they want to collect trophies and winners’ medals.

There was mocking of Liverpool’s reaction to Adrian’s penalty save from Tammy Abraham, the moment that saw the Merseysiders come out on top, but this was the sign of a team that has grown to crave winning. They will carry that into the 2019/20 Premier League season as they attempt to catch Manchester City at the top.

Klopp has always been a master at generating a positive dressing room environment. His players want to play for him, would do anything for him. But now Liverpool’s players are playing for more than just their charismatic German coach. They’re playing to win and the European Super Cup win demonstrated that. Klopp has taken Liverpool to the next stage.

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Business as usual as Manchester City and Liverpool get off to flying starts in the Premier League

So the Premier League has kicked off and it seems that it is business as usual as both the title favourites Manchester City and Liverpool got off to flying starts. Not only did they win their respective games they scored 9 goals between them.

Liverpool got the ball rolling (pardon the pun) when they beat Norwich 4-1 at Anfield on Friday night. It was always going to be extremely difficult for Norwich who have just been promoted from the Championship to take on the European champions and last seasons runners up in the league and so it proved. With ease Liverpool scored 4 goals and Norwich showed their naivety.

At the same time it wasn’t all plain sailing for Jurgen Klopp’s team and Norwich played some tidy football and created quite a few clear cut chances. If Liverpool who have arguably one of the best defences in Europe defend like they did on Friday night against a top 6 team they will suffer. Plus Alisson went off injured and Klopp will be hoping that his Brazilian goal keeper is only out for a limited time. Still it was a great start for Liverpool who will be looking to win their first league title since 1990.

The next day at lunchtime ended up being a miss match, when champions Manchester City went to West Ham and didn’t break sweat as they scored 5 goals with no reply. Raheem Sterling was deservedly the man of the match after he started his campaign with a fantastic hattrick. West Ham were toothless and unlike Norwich gave no fight and no hope as to how they will pick up points this season. Of course the Hammers have had some hyped arrivals in the likes of Pablo Fornals and Sebastian Haller and even though Fornals only came on from the bench in the 2nd half, he made almost no impact except for a teasing cross.

City were simply breath taking on the ball and the pace and fitness was evident compared to West Ham who are set for another frustrating season. The only other story to take from the game is VAR. It was used no less than 3 times and on each occasion got the decision right but there has to still be a question of is VAR good for football? Wasn’t the game supposed to be a simple one, that would include human error? After all England would not have become world cup champions in 1966 had VAR been in place.

True there has been shocking decisions in football, but it can work for and against your team. Maybe VAR takes that moment away in football.  Now when your team score, you will celebrate but perhaps have one eye on the referee and his assistants just in case. What will happen this season is penalties being retaken. It happened in the West Ham game when players encroached the area and it will happen when the goalkeeper leaves his line, and we can expect many penalty problems as a result.

The one damning verdict of West Ham’s defeat was the roar the fans gave as if they had scored a goal. They hadn’t, instead VAR had ruled out a City goal. Is that what teams outside the top 10 will be cheering about in the future?

 

 

Huge season ahead for Liverpool’s Naby Keita

Liverpool’s Guinean international midfielder Naby Keita knows that 2019/20 could be one of the defining seasons of his career.

Keita arrived last summer after signing from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig but struggle to get any consistent game-time as he was hampered by injury for large parts of the campaign.

Liverpool’s number 8 does not have a history of being an injury-prone player at any of his previous clubs. Therefore, Reds fans should look forward to seeing much more of the midfielder over the next 9 months or so. Continue reading

Liverpool’s returning stars can make a huge difference

Jurgen Klopp churned out the dreaded quote earlier this summer about Liverpool’s stars who are returning from injury can be like new signings for the club.

Much of the LFC fanbase seemed to go into meltdown on social media. Fans were calling for FSG’s heads, claiming the club is in the best financial state it’s ever been in and, therefore, need to be splashing the cash to keep pace with Premier League champions Manchester City.

Well, what if Klopp is right? What if, just for a few minutes, we take a step back and consider what he was saying and who he was saying it about? Continue reading

Liverpool’s transfer strategy has served them well and they must stick with it

Liverpool have become accustomed to spending big in recent years. 18 months ago, they made Virgil Van Dijk the most expensive defender in the history of the game, spending £75 million on the Dutchman. Last summer, Alisson Becker arrived as the club’s new goalkeeper for a hefty £67 million.

This summer, however, has been rather more subdued at Anfield. The European champions have made just one signing teenager Sepp Van den Berg for just £1.3 million and the lack of transfer speculation suggests there will be not much more spent before the start of the 2019/20 season.

Jurgen Klopp

In contrast, Manchester City have spent a club record fee of £62.8 million on Rodri with Angelino returning from PSV Eindhoven for £6 million. Manchester United have spent £55 million on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and £20 million on Daniel James, while Tottenham Hotspur have broken their club transfer record to sign Tanguy Ndombele for around £60 million and a further £80 million is expected to be splurged on Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon.

“This year is not the end of Liverpool FC,” said Jurgen Klopp when asked to explain his club’s lack of activity in the transfer market this summer. “Next year there will be another transfer window. This team is really good and we have invested a lot in it. Now we have to work with that.

“I can’t say anything about what other teams are doing. I don’t know how they do it. We have to pay bills. Sorry. Everybody has to pay bills; we have to pay bills. We invested money in this team. Now it looks like we are not. But we are not in this fantasia land where you just get whatever you want. You cannot do it constantly.”

Liverpool will spend money when the right target becomes available, though. They did it with Van Dijk and Alisson and they would have done it this summer. The right target hasn’t come to the fore, though. Liverpool’s recent transfer strategy has turned them into one of the best teams in England and Europe and they are right to stand by it.

They must resist the urge to make a big money signing for the sake of it. That’s what rivals Man Utd have been guilty of doing in recent years. Liverpool have proven themselves to be smarter than that. It might look like they are standing still, but the wrong signing can take a team backwards.

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Rhian Brewster shows why he may play a big part in Liverpool’s first team next season

Rhian Brewster

Liverpool got their pre-season friendlies off to a flying start with a 6-0 win over Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park on Thursday evening.

The young Reds striker put a season of injury woes behind him by turning on the style against League One side Tranmere and, in doing so, declared himself fit, ready and able to play a part in Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad for the 2019/20 campaign.

It’s no secret that Liverpool have been quiet in the transfer market so far this summer. Could Klopp’s faith in Brewster’s abilities be one of the main reasons why Liverpool have not looked to spend big on another forward? Continue reading

The 2019/20 Premier League title looks destined only for Manchester City and Liverpool

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The Premier League season is literally only over a month away until it kicks off again which seems incredible as the last one only feels like it has ended. Unlike most seasons though this one could feel very predictable at least where the league title is concerned and it feels like it will be a two horse race between champions Manchester City and last seasons runners up Liverpool.

Liverpool don’t like coming 2nd two years in a row- just look at how the Reds under Jurgen Klopp responded to the disappointment of losing the 2018 Champions League final to Real Madrid in a game they lost 3-1. They came back fighting the next year despite being involved in an epic domestic league title and got back to the final and then beat Tottenham 2-0 to win their 6th European Cup overall. That is this Liverpool team and it seems built in their DNA.

So far Klopp has been quiet in the transfer market and has bought only Sepp van den Berg the Dutchman from PEC Zwolle for just over £1m. The likes of Daniel Strurridge and Danny Ings have been released and sold, with Ings going for £18m which was seen as great business.

Liverpool have not really dipped big into the transfer market but it seems that it is only a question of when and not if. At the same time one only has to look at the first team where there is quality all over the pitch to realise that they don’t need much improving with such a brilliant goalkeeper in Alisson and perhaps the best defence in Europe, attacking midfielders and strikers like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, why would you be looking elsewhere?

As for Manchester City, the champions showed incredible mental strength to win the league last season, simply not blinking and winning every one of their games for the last 3 months of the season, it was incredible and manager Pep Guardiola has rightly said that it was his best title to win and certainly most hardest.

City are strong of course and have also like Liverpool been quiet on the transfer front. They have only bought goalkeeper Zack Steffen from MLS side Colombus Crew for a reported £7m. But City and Pep usually do spend money and it would be a surprise if they didn’t invest in some quality players before the window closes.

It is unlikely that City will give up their title easy but at the same time one could question if Liverpool will be the hungrier of the two teams as City really want what Liverpool have- the Champions League and Liverpool really want what City have the league.

With the teams below them having their own troubles and being so off the pace last season, this one coming up looks like it will be a straight fight between these two teams, and no other team looks like stopping that.

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Three players to solve Liverpool’s forward problem this summer

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool transfer window

Suggesting that Liverpool have a problem with their forwards is a little disingenuous given they don’t. Liverpool’s forward three is among the best in Europe. Roberto Firmino is the best false nine around, and Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are both world-class wingers.

Their respective goal tallies over the last two years stand as a testament to that. Even when Salah is supposed to be having a bad season, as some will tell you this year was, he still finished as the joint top scorer in the Premier League.

Every club in world football would take these three players without a moment’s hesitation. That includes all of the ‘elite’ sides and every single one of Liverpool’s rivals. Indeed, Real Madrid have been linked with both Mane and Salah this summer. Continue reading

Why aren’t Liverpool interested in Moussa Dembele?

When the eulogies are written of Liverpool’s 2018/19 season, of their glorious failure in the Premier League title race and their glorious triumph in the Champions League, there will be an anomalous name that crops up more than once. Indeed, Divock Origi, a forgotten man until the final few weeks of the campaign, wove himself into the club’s folklore with a series of crucial goals and moments.

Origi took his opportunity well, proving himself as a valuable member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad, but his presence in the Liverpool side at such a pivotal point of the season illustrated how the Reds don’t possess the depth of some of their rivals, particularly Manchester City and their myriad of attacking options.

Jurgen Klopp

This has led to speculation that Liverpool could sign a striker this summer. They have space for one, particularly with Daniel Sturridge leaving the club at the end of the season. Timo Wener has been linked with the RB Leipzig frontman a long term target for the Anfield club. The Bundesliga has been a good hunting ground for Liverpool in recent years and that trend could continue with a move for one of the division’s most reliable goalscorers.

What about Moussa Dembele, though? He is the French Under-21 international who is lighting up the U21 European Championships on the back of an impressive first season with Lyon. Indeed, Dembele has been so impressive since making the move to France from Celtic last summer that he has been mentioned as a £40 million target for Manchester United, who are also on the lookout for a new striker.

Of course, Liverpool aren’t looking for a first team frontman. They already boast arguably the best frontline in European football with Roberto Firmino a custom-built number nine for Klopp’s side. But if the Reds want a more orthodox centre forward, Dembele would certainly fit the bill. They should be interested.

Dembele proved himself at Champions League level while at Celtic, also underlining his big game capacity. Indeed, it’s when the pressure is on most that the Frenchman tends to find his best form, as we have seen for France at the U21 Euros this summer. Dembele is a natural goal-getter.

Klopp would be charged with refining certain areas of Dembele’s game. His first touch can let him down on occasion, for instance, but at £40 million – the mooted price set by Lyon – he might be the best option for the Reds. If the French striker is to make a move to the North-West of England this summer, he should have more than one option.

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Liverpool need Naby Keita to shine next season

Keita Liverpool

If the rumours are true, Liverpool will not be spending big this summer. Instead, Jurgen Klopp and his team will keep their transfer business low key, add in a couple of areas and look to get more from the current squad. One such player they will expect a drastic improvement in is Naby Keita.

The Guinea midfielder arrived at Anfield last summer after a year of waiting to do so. Liverpool expected much of the midfielder. Klopp and his team rated him highly, so much so, they were willing to pay £54 million and wait a year for him to arrive. The early signs were positive too. Keita started the 4-0 win over West Ham on the opening day and impressed in midfield. Against Crystal Palace the following week, he was another impressive performer. Continue reading