Jurgen Klopp fears ‘crazy expectations’ for Liverpool trophies are spiralling out of control
It is tempting to visualise Jurgen Klopp spending the summer seeking treatment for amnesia.
“I’m sure there was something I was meaning to do when I joined Liverpool... now... what was it again?”
Fortunately, there are post-it notes aplenty.
“Win a trophy,” they read.
Some of the prompts are more specific – insistent, even.
“This season,” they add.
“Preferably the Premier League.”
So many reminders, some gentle, others less so.
Everyone is saying and thinking the time to win silverware is overdue. Klopp agrees, although after seeing his side dismantle Napoli in their penultimate warm-up game his main concern is what he described as ‘crazy expectations’ spiralling out of control.
“We have shown a lot of good things in the last few years but it was never in one second easy and it will not be this season easy,” he said.
“If we win a game, we win a game and must win the next game as well, not be celebrating anything as if it is decided. I really believe our fans are spot on and know what is going on. We have high expectations of ourselves but our situation has not changed. I do not see that United has got weaker, or City weaker. Tottenham have not sold a player and have stayed together. I think Arsenal and Chelsea will be stronger than last year. Everton obviously are pushing from behind. Wolves are not shy to spend money. The league will be difficult.”
Klopp's caution reflects Liverpool being in new territory this summer. The addition of £65m goalkeeper Alisson - who made his debut in Dublin – strengthens an expensively assembled side which looks equipped to mount an all-too-rare Premier League challenge.
With raised hope and hefty cheques brings more pressure, but there is something distinctive about the increasing demand on Klopp and Liverpool.
Managers at the biggest clubs inevitably find themselves in trouble when they do not win trophies, but usually that builds from an impatient fanbase or intolerant board. Klopp goes into this season with neither.
There is internal expectation, naturally, but the most vocal tetchiness is external. It is Liverpool’s adversaries sounding more agitated by Klopp’s three years of near misses.
“How dare they?” they seem to scream.
“How dare those people be enjoying themselves, how dare they be so rampantly positive, when Klopp has won nothing for them.”
You particularly sense it at Liverpool’s top four rivals – that simmering resentment that Klopp’s work is so appreciated when he has the audacity to keep tripping at the last hurdle.
None of those demanding success this season predicted Liverpool would reach the Europa League final in 2016, but that does not matter now.
None of them predicted Liverpool would reach the Champions League final in 2018, either.
That overachievement was also swiftly considered irrelevant after defeat to a side completing a hat-trick of wins. The narrowness of Klopp’s ‘failures’ and thrilling, progressive football en route cannot and will not be shrugged aside when judgements are made on a reign which – should his contract be fulfilled – is not even mid-term.
“Ah, but now they have spent lots of money,” say those who a year ago argued Liverpool can never hope to compete if they sell the best players like Philippe Coutinho.
It appears rather than reinvest the £142m from that sale, Klopp should have asked Liverpool’s owners to donate it to charity - otherwise he is a hypocrite who buys a team rather than builds one.
The fact winning the league involves overcoming the richest club in the world, and Champions League those who have spent considerably more over a longer period – including luring Liverpool’s best players of the last four years - hardly makes claiming one of the most coveted trophies a guarantee (let’s not insult each others’ intelligence here and suggest a League Cup or even the FA Cup will satisfy. Yes, Liverpool would embrace it but that’s not the endgame).
Moods can quickly change, but the hint during this pre-season is of further improvement. James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum, Mo Salah, Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno continued the positive momentum against an excellent Napoli team in the Aviva Stadium.
“It is not about judging our situation and thinking, ‘really good’. We need to be ready each week, not only for a few games. That is our challenge,” said Klopp, in an appeal for perspective he may need to repeat more forcibly in coming days and months.
“If we keep the atmosphere within the club from last year we have a chance of really big season. Then we will see what happens.”
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NON-LFC fanams gal ir nelabai aktualu, bet dalinuosi man labai patikusiu Chris Bascombe straipsniu. Puikiai sudėjo ant popieriaus viską, ką aš galvoju. Apie Kloppo 3 metų darbą ir ateinančio sezono tikslus.