Liverpool's greatest manager? – The Opta data behind Klopp's five years at Anfield

By Sports Desk October 08, 2020

Liverpool could not have known the incredible journey that awaited them when the club hired Jurgen Klopp on this day five years ago.

Brendan Rodgers had recently been sacked with the Reds 10th in the Premier League, a far cry from their title challenge a year and a half earlier.

That bid for Premier League success in 2013-14 was something of an outlier, though. Despite their illustrious history, prior to 2014 Liverpool had only finished in the top two three times since winning their previous league championship in 1990.

Klopp came in with the goal of waking a proverbial sleeping giant, something he had managed to do at Borussia Dortmund, whom he guided to back-to-back Bundesliga titles after seven years outside of Germany's top four.

Liverpool fans' yearning and desire for domestic success was even greater, they will surely tell you, but with the aid of smart recruitment, a hint of patience and fine coaching, Klopp has turned the Reds into a force once again.

On the fifth anniversary of his appointment, we looked at the Opta data behind his success…

THE RECORD BOOKS

While domestic cup success continues to elude Klopp in England, it's fair to say Liverpool fans won't mind given the silverware that has been secured, namely the Champions League, Premier League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.

That Premier League triumph last season was Liverpool's first since the competition ceased to be Division One. It ended a wait of 30 years to win the league championship.

A big part of their success last season was an 18-match winning streak, a joint record in English top-flight history, while they also went unbeaten in 44 games from January 2019 to February 2020.

The Reds' 24 consecutive home league wins from February last year to July 2020 is also a record, while they remain unbeaten in 61 games at Anfield, the third longest run in English top-flight history.

Liverpool remarkably collected 99 points last term, which was just one shy of the all-time benchmark set by Manchester City the previous season, when the Reds' 97 set a new high for second place.

Some might even feel Klopp has a case to be considered Liverpool's greatest manager, ahead of Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish. He has the best winning percentage of any Reds boss to have taken charge of at least 50 matches with 60.3 per cent (58.3 per cent for Dalglish, 57.4 per cent for Paisley).

And in terms of the Premier league, only Pep Guardiola (2.33) has averaged more points per game than the German (2.17), who edges out Alex Ferguson (2.16).

THE PLAYERS

One of the key elements to Klopp's Liverpool is that he has built a team in his image – "heavy metal" football, as he memorably dubbed it, reflects the manager's no-nonsense attitude but is also thrilling, full-on and uncompromising.

Of course, essential to that is the players – he has fielded 88 of them across all competitions, with 58 making their debut under him.

The first to be given a debut by Klopp was Connor Randall – now at Ross County – in an EFL Cup the month of his appointment, while the most recent is Diogo Jota.

No player comes close to Roberto Firmino as his most relied upon, however. The Brazilian, for all his critics over the past year, has played 242 games for Klopp, with 211 from the start – this amounts to 18,435 minutes.

Firmino also leads with regards to assists (54), though he's a fair way off Mohamed Salah in the goalscoring stakes, with the former on 78 and the Egyptian one shy of his century.

Nevertheless, that pair together with Sadio Mane (84) have accounted for 46 per cent of all goals scored under Klopp – they have become one of the deadliest attacks in Europe.

Unfortunately for Klopp, the result closest to his anniversary was his worst with the Reds, as they astonishingly lost 7-2 at Aston Villa on Sunday.

It was the first time since 1963 that Liverpool conceded seven goals in a match, but up next after the international break is the Merseyside derby against an Everton side top of the table – what better opportunity to bounce back?

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