Liverpool not great yet, but Jurgen Klopp is

By Donald Oliver July 16, 2020

Seven years ago, a fact-based thriller about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis won best picture at the Academy Awards. The name of the picture was Argo, the name of the director was … some guy named Ben Affleck.

And no, this is not me being dismissive of one of the best directors in the modern era, this was the Academy’s flippancy. Weeks before, we learnt Affleck didn’t even receive a Best Director nomination, which was shocking, to say the least.

The Academy may have overcompensated by the time the Oscars came around as they gave Affleck’s movie the title of best film of 2013. In my opinion, it certainly wasn’t. Zero Dark Thirty and Beasts of the Southern Wild were better films.

But long story short, the Academy had decided Affleck’s movie was better than the director’s role in making said movie.

For Liverpool’s English Premier League title-winning chase, the reverse is true. Manager Jurgen Klopp, the architect of the Reds’ success this season, has a far more convincing claim for greatness than the team he oversees.

If this Liverpool team had managed to break Manchester City’s 2017/2018 record of 100 points in a season, they would have entered into the conversation of greatest Premier League team ever, a title I don’t think they deserve at this juncture.

Don’t get me wrong, they’ve done incredibly well this season. They were the fastest team to record 30 wins in a season. They amassed 61 points from 21 matches, the most a team had ever accumulated at that stage in any of Europe's top five leagues. The Reds secured the title with 7 matches to spare, another record. And they also set a new standard for consecutive home wins (24).

However their success is grounded in, and wrapped around the vision of the German genius who is their manager. We have seen this from him before. He did it with Borussia Dortmund as they won back-to-back German Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012, which was the last time a team not named Bayern Munich won the league.

And it was an Arjen Robben goal for Bayern Munich which denied him a Champions League title the following year at Wembley. His exploits with Dortmund made a strong case as Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners, decided to do away with manager Brendan Rodgers who himself was a Steven Gerard slip away from winning the Premier League.

And Klopp’s frenetic, heavy metal, fire-ants speed approach to football was exactly what the Merseyside club needed as they rebranded and forged in fire their current identity.

The strongest Liverpool XI cost roughly £330 million with goalkeeper Alisson and defender Virgil Van Dijk responsible for almost half of the cost.

Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Captain Jordan Henderson, make up the preferred midfield trio for Klopp.

I don’t think any of these names would come into the discussion of a best-ever Liverpool XI or any World XI. In fact, if you take a look at some of the biggest clubs around Europe, many of them have star studded players in the middle of the park.

Barcelona has Arturo Vidal, Frenkie de Jong, Arthur Melo, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets to choose from. Real Madrid has the likes of Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Isco and Federico Valverde to name a few. Manchester City has a plethora of talent including the outgoing David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan. Even Manchester United’s midfield trio of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Nemanja Matic looks more attractive on paper. However, which one of these players could play in Klopp’s system for the Reds?

Trent Alexander-Arnold came up from their youth academy, and Andy Robertson was purchased from Hull City for £8 million in what is now being regarded as one of the greatest bargains in club history.

And the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino, which as a group is one of the best attacks in world football, cost less than £100 million.

Liverpool has proven to be an incredible sum of its parts and the squad may take Klopp’s magic potion and go the distance and create a dynasty in the years to come… but I highly doubt that. The type of football they play doesn’t encourage longevity, and they would do well to strengthen their squad for next season if they want to replicate their success of the past couple of years, which included European triumph.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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