From serial runner-ups to winning addicts: The dawn of Klopp’s new Liverpool

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Photo credit: Mirror

They have been serial runner-ups for years. UEFA Champions League (2018). UEFA Europa League (2016). English Premier League (2019). It seemed Liverpool had lost tough with how to win trophies in the last few years.

It only piqued curiosity, though. This was unusual of such an elite team as Liverpool. With six Champions League glory, the Reds remain one of the most successful teams in Europe.

Their historic comeback against AC Milan against A.C Millan in the 2005 final of the Champions League (the club’s fifth time of winning the competition) summed up the team’s storied legacies.

Yet, something went wrong afterwards. In the 2010s, Liverpool struggled to retain their identity.

The search for end to this led to the appointment of Jurgen Klopp on 8 October 2015, on a three-year deal to replace Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager. The German-tactician’s appointment largely raised optimisms, yet his early stint at a club that want more, did little to address the inherent problem: How to return to winning ways.

That, unarguably, used to be Klopp’s  greatest managerial Achilles’ heel. At Borussia Dortmund, he was a contender for several titles, reaching finals on many occasions but have little titles to show for it. The 2013 UEFA Champions League final’s loss against Bayern Munich was a glaring example.

Such poor record only thickened concerns among fans. And they right to a large extent, until 2019.

For all his tactical wizardry and ability to inspire teams, Klopp caught a pitiable look at Liverpool in his early days at the club for his inability to translate his efforts into trophies.

He led Liverpool to UEFA Europa League finals against Sevilla in 2016 but ended up as runner-up.The same year, they lost the League Cup final to Manchester City on penalties.

It was a similar story in the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League final against Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid where they they lost 3-1 (which was Klopp’s sixth defeat in seven major finals.)

In 2018, Klopp made a strong tilt towards ending the club’s trophy-less streak, but was again outwitted by Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City, who were crowned League champions in a row.

All these while, it appeared Liverpool were not good enough for a trophy. Now however, they seemed too good to go without a trophy.

This is the story of Liverpool and Klopp’s new dawn.

The Reds have continued their impressive run from last year, when they won their sixth Champions League trophy. They followed that up with UEFA Super Cup victory against Chelsea before coasting to their first-ever Club World Club glory in December to become the first English club to win a continental treble.

As it stands, the Reds, barring any major crises, are in pole position to clinch the League this season.

The records tell just how much this Liverpool’s side have improved in the recent times.

21 games played, 20 won, 61 points, on top of the table, Jurgen Kop’s Liverpool march to their first English Premier League (EPL) title in 30 years, is becoming a reality at the tick of every second.

It was in 1989/1990 season that they last won the League but they seemed poised to break that jinx this season. With a game in hand, the Reds currently sit on top of the table with 14 points above second-placed Manchester City who are on 47 points.

Their 1-0 victory against Jose Mourinho’s Totthenham over the weekend is symptomatic of the fact that Klopp’s team is too hot for a defeat at the moment.

Collectively, the team has achieved significantly, likewise individually, with several of its players snagging nominations and honours.

For now, this looks like a team that will dominate Europe for few more seasons. Whatever happens tomorrow would do little to belittle their present imperious place in history.

Up next is their EPL encounter with Manchester United on Saturday.

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