So Jurgen Klopp enters his first full season in charge of Liverpool, having had a full pre-season and, more importantly, a full summer transfer window to invest in his squad.
Given he has had this time now we may finally get to see what Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will look like.
After last season when half the squad either underperformed or was injured, fans may be quite rightly looking forward to a season of more ups than downs. It’s been long enough in the coming. Whilst the recent years at Liverpool have not been awful, they are well short of what the ever-demanding Kop expect of their players.
Klopp has separated some of the chaff from his wheat and let go some players with questions marks over their heads, the major casualties being Jordan Ibe, Martin Skrtel and Joe Allen who were sold to Bournemouth, Fenerbahce and Stoke City respectively, as well as Kolo Toure and Jose Enrique who did not have their contracts renewed.
The players he has brought in look like they may give some kind of a clue as to where the manager sees his team is weak. The big signing so far has been the £23m capture of Georginio Wijnaldum from relegated Newcastle United. Combining him with Saido Mane on either wing means explosive pace and severe attacking intent.
I am a huge fan of Wijnaldum; he was accused last year of not being up to the pace of the Premier League and, as one of Newcastle’s better players, he should have shouldered more of the blame for them going down.
But I disagree with this view point, I think he is a huge talent and showed on more than enough occasions last year that he has what it takes to be a success in England’s top division. In a team like Liverpool both he and Mane should do well.
Backing them up with two new goalkeepers in Loris Karius and Alex Manninger, 2 centre-halves in Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip and a strong controlling midfielders in the shape of Marko Grujic, Klopp has shown he intends to shore up a defence that leaked more than a goal a game on average last season. With mooted deals for Leicester’s Ben Chilwell and PSV Eindhoven’s Jetro Willems (both full-backs) Klopp clearly has a plan in mind for what he wants from the season ahead.
Which brings us to the sharp end of the pitch. Liverpool’s struggle for consistent goals has been well-documented ever since Luis Suarez left for Barcelona two years ago. Daniel Sturridge certainly has the ability to do well but he can’t stay fit. Christian Benteke was called upon to deputise but was unable to convert enough chances with a paltry 10 goals from 42 games in all competitions last year. Danny Ings hasn’t really set the league alight and the less said about Mario Balotelli the better.
So the question in who does Jurgen Klopp bring in who can guarantee goals? It is a question that pretty much every manager (bar Jose Mourinho and his apparently unlimited funds) is asking themselves this season. With most top players already on long-term deals with their clubs, it’s hard to see who can solve this problem.
If Sturridge can stay fit, Benteke chips in with a few goals and the new signings bed in, then a top four slot is totally achievable for the Reds in my opinion. These are all big ifs though, and it only takes one to go wrong for Liverpool to once again see themselves with nothing to play for come April 2017.