EPL 2016-17: What's Jurgen cooking at Anfield?
Jurgen Klopp has been very active in pre-season with some new signings and positive displays in the preseason games.
They say all good things must come to end and that is what is happening at one of Europe's most decorated football clubs. The Great Bill Shankly build a legacy with historic nights at Anfield and Wembley. His pupil, Bob Paisley OBE, honoured the tradition by bringing European glory thrice at Rome, London at Paris. Others like King Kenny and Rafa gave some more nights to remember but somewhere in the new millennium a grim reaper was waiting for the mighty reds and it went by several names a la Roy Hodgson, Tom Hicks and George Gillet.
The reapers couldn't suck the life out of Liverpool as angels arrived in the form of Fenway Sports Group. There were some highs in 2012 at Wembley followed by a remarkable title race in 2013/14 which ended in vain but the club slipped to new lows in battles at Britannia Stadium, Selhurst Park, Wembley and even Anfield.
However, there is still some lease on life for the Reds as a crazy, funny and charismatic man from the land of beers and cars has stepped in and turned doubters into believers.
It didn't take long for Klopp to make an impact at Liverpool. He displayed what the Reds are capable of with some spectacular wins against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton, Villarreal and Everton. However, consistency has been an issue. All the good work Klopp did during his first bout with Liverpool was undone after two cup final heartbreaks.
Ingredients for Klopp's special Anfield recipe
Klopp hasn't wasted time in bringing new faces to the club. Four first team players have arrived already while as many as nine players have bid adieu to their Liverpool careers and the latter number could double come September.
There have been some alterations behind the curtains as well. Jurgen Klopp has got back at Bayern for taking his Dortmund players by roping in nutritionist Mona Nemmer and fitness coach Andreas Kornmayer from the Bavarian outfit.
The Gaffer has already addressed all areas of the pitch. His compatriot and the promising young goalkeeper, Loris Karius, might provide respite from the goalkeeping errors that has plagued the club in recent years. Another Bundesliga star, Joel Matip, has landed to shore up the defence. The midfield is bolstered with the arrival of the 6ft 3in tall Serbian prodigy, Marko Grujic, as he is a welcome change to the midfield of last season which had an average height of 5ft 10in.
For the forward department, Klopp followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, and raided St. Mary’s for some of their treasures. This time, the loot was Sadio Mane and his arrival is a breath of fresh air as he brings some much-needed pace and directness to the Liverpool attack.
There are still some issues to address. At the back, Alberto Moreno can be an asset in some games and a liability in others. This trait of his is very dangerous and there have been calls from the fans to either replace the player or bring an able backup who can step in do the job at ease. German international, Jonas Hector and Leicester's teenage sensation, Ben Chilwell, have been linked for months but nothing has happened so far. The current backups for Moreno are Brad Smith and Jon Flanagan.
Also read: Thank you Martin Skrtel
In the heart of the defence, Joel Matip will act as a direct replacement for Martin Skrtel but Liverpool might still be one man short in that area. As Kolo Toure was released despite a promising display towards the end of last season, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Mamadou Sakho are Liverpool's experienced defenders. There are other options like Tiago Ilori and Joe Gomez but the former's future might be away from Anfield while the latter is yet to return from an injury he picked up in early parts of last season.
In addition, Sakho's career is still in the Limbo as WADA is considering an appeal on UEFA's ruling which dismissed the doping case in his name. He has also picked up an injury which will keep him out until the start of the new season. Chances are that we will either see a promising young defender or an experienced veteran arrive as a backup before the window slams shut.
In midfield, there is a big question on the future of Joe Allen who was one of the outstanding performers from the recently concluded European championship. The last remaining player from the Benitez era, Lucas Leiva, might also pack his bags with Turkey calling. If Lucas does leave, then Jon Flanagan becomes the seniormost member of the first team squad and a new central midfielder might finally arrive after months of speculation regarding Mahmoud Dahoud and Piotr Zielinski.
The Reds are beefed up in attack with Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Danny Ings. Hence, it is very likely that misfits like Christian Benteke and Mario Balotelli will be sold to the highest bidder.
In short, Klopp just needs to make a couple of defensive signings and a central midfielder to address all areas. However, there is a lot of deadwood to clear.