Opinion: Klopp's taken the fast lane to title
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While Liverpool have waited 30 years to be champions, it is also true that Jurgen Klopp has reached the holy grail remarkably quickly.
Sir Alex Ferguson had to wait nearly seven years to win the League at Manchester United but Klopp will do it in less than five. It would have been four without Manchester City’s exploits last season.
Klopp walked into a very different Liverpool in the autumn of 2015. They were sitting 10th, having finished 25 points behind Chelsea the previous season, and were still mourning the departures of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard.
It was a major rebuild at a time when competition in the Premier League had never been stronger given the financial clout of City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Yet here we are. Liverpool will be crowned champions if they beat Everton today and Crystal Palace on Wednesday. They are on course for a Premier League points record and are Champions League holders, having also reached three other major finals under Klopp. It is phenomenal progress in a short period.
They’ve done it in style too. Luck hasn’t come into it, there has been clear progression in the performances, quality and consistency. The whole club deserves credit for their recruitment policy. Klopp needed to show patience to sign Virgil van Dijk when other managers would have given up and signed someone else for self-preservation.
Andy Robertson signed from Hull, Gini Wijnaldum after relegation with Newcastle. The whole team plays with incredible energy and tempo. It can only happen when a manager has the ability to motivate.
This will be Liverpool’s 19th title, one behind Manchester United. In the next five or six years they will match or overtake their rivals.
All the elements are there to win more. The squad is at the right age and I’ll be surprised if they don’t sign at least a couple of forward players. The next generation, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott, who we saw in the cups this season, will also want more game time.
I’ve never seen Liverpool win the title as an adult. As a player, I thought we were going to get there after finishing third in 2001 and second in 2002, But it didn’t happen.
Winning the Champions League last year was huge. It brought confidence, energy and lifted the pressure. They started the season with an air of invincibility, I don’t think they would have had this gap without it.
Klopp was criticised at one stage for having no Plan B. He does now, maybe because he’s got better players, maybe because he has the humility and self-awareness to never stop learning. I remember a game against Arsenal where Liverpool dropped off and counter-attacked rather than opting for the high press. They were 4-0 up at half-time.
Not seeing fans inside Anfield celebrating will make the title win less emotional for me, but there will be huge satisfaction. It hasn’t been about drama but total domination.