5 long-standing problems Jurgen Klopp has solved at Liverpool this season
Liverpool Football Club have some of the most loyal supporters not just in England, but across the world. However, supporting the Merseyside club constantly puts the fans in a wringer, especially this decade. Unstoppable on one day and unrecognizable on another has been an unwanted hallmark of the Reds, something even the Arsenal faithful can relate to as well.
The reasons behind such performances are manifold but none of the managers in this decade from Roy Hodgson to Brendan Rodgers actually succeeded in resolving the recurring problems. Enter Jurgen Klopp. The German took over from Rodgers in the middle of the 2015/16 season, renewing hopes of a rise back to the top, given his success story with Borussia Dortmund.
Three years on, the club is in its best place this century both on and off the pitch. More importantly, the 50-year-old looks to have laid to rest a number of long-standing problems. Let us take a look at five such issues which the affable German has resolved this term.
#5 Defensive Leader
One of the biggest strengths of the Reds in the late 2000s was the rock-solid partnership between local lad Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. The duo formed an impenetrable defensive base, especially under Rafa Benitez. However, the Finn left the club in 2009, and the club's woes at the back began.
Daniel Agger possessed all the qualities required for a modern center-half but his injuries cost him a top career. Martin Skrtel never really grew into a dominant force and Carragher's retirement in 2013 created a huge leadership void at the back.
The likes of Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Joel Matip all tried but never succeeded in ticking the box of being a consistent top defender. Enter Klopp's no.1 defensive target Virgil van Dijk. After a long drawn out transfer saga, the Reds finally landed him in January for £75 million, making him the most expensive defender ever. Five months on, the fee is not talked about anymore, which highlights his impact.
The Dutchman possesses strength, height, pace and technical ability. However, what sets him apart is the calmness he instills in the players around him. The 26-year-old is a vocal leader and his nonchalant way of defending sets him a class apart, as seen in the second-half of this season.
In fact, the Reds conceded just 9 league goals since Van Dijk came into the side, a testament to his quality and leadership. Hence, the Merseyside club finally have a top leader at the back and credit goes to Klopp for convincing the player to join them instead of their rivals and then waiting for the move to happen.