Wednesday 22 November 2017

Comment: Why Jurgen Klopp's aura at Liverpool may already be shattered for good

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

The 24th round of Premier League matches of this season cemented Chelsea's position as Champions League after a convincing 3-1 win at Arsenal, while also ensuring the perception of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp may have changed for good.

Why Klopp's aura has been fatally damaged at Liverpool

The final Premier League game of 2016 saw Jurgen Klopp change his tactics and turn his Liverpool entertainment show into a winning machine seemingly equipped to go all the way in the Premier League title race.

Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat at Anfield saw Klopp display a side of Liverpool’s make-up that had not been displayed before, as he played a patient game that diluted City’s strengths and opened the door to a crucial victory.

The plaudits duly flowed for Klopp as he saw in the New Year and that has tended to be the theme of the media coverage around this German tactician since he arrived in English football in October 2015.

It is easy understand why even opposition fans warmed to Klopp, with that pleasing smile, his booming laugh, his colourful touchline antics adding to the widespread belief that every player working under his watch was enchanted by his presence. Liverpool fans were not alone in buying into the theory that they had their own special one on board in the shape of Klopp.

Ten games later and Liverpool fans are in despair after a run of disastrous form that has seen Klopp’s side hounded out of the Premier League title race and both domestic cup competitions in pretty humiliating fashion.

Remarkably, some are even questioning whether the managerial Messiah of 2016 can survive in his post until the end of this year, with the scale of the current demise and Klopp’s apparent inability to halt the flow of negativity shattering his aura in double quick time.

“I have been here before in my career as a player and then a manager,” former Liverpool striker John Aldridge told “You get stuck in a rut, wondering where the next big win is coming from, but this team have shown they have the talent to beat the best in the Premier League.

“Now Klopp needs to show that he is as good a manager as we all believe him to be. Let’s hope he finds a way to get this season back on track.”

Even if Klopp emerges from his first major slump as Liverpool manager, there is no doubt that the events of the last month - which culminated in a 2-0 defeat against Hull on Saturday - will leave a lasting stain on his reputation in the Premier League.

Klopp is working with a SIX-YEAR contract at Liverpool that runs until 2022 and were it not for the last ten miserable games, most Reds fans would have confidently predicted he would bring that elusive first league title since 1990 to Anfield during the course of his tenure at the helm.

Yet the pace of his demise and his lack of invention to come out of reverse gear he has served up have exposed the myth that he should be above the kind of criticism that has flowed in the direction of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho during their first seasons leading Manchester’s big two clubs.

Klopp’s extensive honeymoon period at Liverpool is well and truly over and club officials have to hope they do not get to the point of exploring how to pay off a manager with such a lucrative contract any time soon.

Neville's lone voice defending Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger barely seemed rattled by his side’s latest demise at Chelsea on Saturday, as he suggested a poor refereeing decision that resulted in the opening goal of the game for the Blues had been crucial in deciding the outcome of the game.

Yet Wenger was merely deluding himself and offering yet more excuses for his team if he believed the words he muttered after his latest Stamford Bridge humbling saw Arsenal well beaten by the champions-elect, with the final 3-1 score line not fully highlighting the gulf in class between the two sides.

The enduringly comical Arsenal Fan TV on YouTube served up another round of Arsenal fans displaying various degrees of despair and devestation as they called for Wenger to end his enduring reign as the club’s manager, but former Manchester United defender Gary Neville is a long voice keen to defend the beleaguered Arsenal manager.

“If Arsene Wenger was Jurgen Klopp and he was currently above Manchester City, above Liverpool, above Manchester United that have spent nearly £150-200million between them we’d be saying he’s doing a great job,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“Yet I walked out the Chelsea ground yesterday and there was a couple of these Arsenal fan TV camera things everywhere and to be honest it was embarrassing listening to it and watching it.

“I was watching Chelsea fans take the mickey out of them which was a bit funny and I was watching Arsenal fans slating and slanging into him and I thought to myself, he doesn’t deserve that, that’s one thing he doesn’t deserve - he’s done an unbelievable job.”

Neville’s comments are unlikely to carry much weight among Arsenal fans who now appeared to have concluded en-mass that Wenger needs to go when his contract is up at the end of the season.

If we are to see the end of Wenger’s Arsenal reign in May, it can only be hoped this great gentleman of the game is given a respectful send-off by the club’s supporters.

Try not to laugh at Big Sam

Okay, hands up who has sympathy for Sam Allardyce’s miserable plight at Crystal Palace?

Let’s be honest, the brash loud-mouth removed from the England national team last job for being, well, a brash loud mouth last year, has never had what Louis Walsh persistently describes during his annual talent show appearances as ‘the likability factor’.

The manager who cannot be addressed without the word Big planted before his name and who has something of the Donald Trump in his personality make-up tells anyone who will listen that he guarantees any club that employs him Premier League survival, even if supporters will never entirely be happy that this odious man is the face of their club.

Well, oh Big one…survival in the Premier League may not be a certainty in your latest posting after last Saturday’s 4-0 home defeat against Sunderland left his Palace side deep in the mire.

Allardyce has not had the instant impact he promises chairman considering employing him that he can provide, while his lack of quality signings in the transfer window suggests players are not rushing to work under his guidance.

Palace are a fine club with some of the most vocal supporters in the Premier League, but who wouldn’t have a chuckle if Allardyce had a relegation on his record come the end of this season.

Sam wouldn’t be quite so Big then! Team Of The Week

Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)

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Gary Cahill (Chelsea)

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United)

Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

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