Jürgen Klopp celebrated his four-year anniversary as Liverpool boss last week, and the man from the Black Forest has certainly brought the smiles back to faces of everyone connected to Liverpool Football Club.
It is ironic that his anniversary landed within a day of the Leicester game, with the man he replaced as Liverpool manager — Brendan Rodgers — in the Leicester City hot-seat.
Social media has been very busy sharing the photo of Klopp’s first ever starting eleven at White Hart Lane. Only three players remain from that first squad of players named by the German.
James Milner, who started that day, has been nothing short of phenomenal under Klopp. Adam Lallana, the one-time labelled “teacher’s pet” was ever-present at the beginning of his tenure and, finally, Divock Origi — the man who went from almost being sold to be instrumental in Liverpool achieving what they did towards the end of last season.
When LFC TV conducted Klopp’s first one-on-one interview, he famously said that “we have to change, from doubters to believers”. Which he has done in the most wonderful, exciting, entertaining and emotional fashion.
Let’s take a look at the most defining moments under Klopp, that has led us from doubting to believing.
Liverpool v Dortmund — April 2016
Dejan Lovren headed home a stoppage-time winner in front of the Kop as Liverpool reached their first Europa League semi-final since 2001, after an incredible victory over German giants Borussia Dortmund.
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On the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary, both sets of supporters joined together to pay a touching tribute to the 96 before the game and gave the most heartfelt rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. Goosebumps all around the ground.
Dortmund had the tie wrapped up TWICE during the game, but Liverpool as they always are under the lights at Anfield were not dead and buried. Klopp, screaming and punching his chest from the sidelines, inspired his team to a memorable victory that made people stand up and take notice that this new look Liverpool side will fight until the end. It gave us a glimpse into what was to come in the future.
Liverpool v Sevilla — May 2016
Liverpool have reached a final in every European season under Klopp. But they suffered in the first one — a 3-1 defeat to Sevilla in Basel.
Klopp promised in his post-match press conference that they would go on to better things. Jordan Henderson said he could see it in the gaffer’s eyes that he believed this team would develop, see the bigger picture and go on to more finals.
After finishing eighth that season and with no European football to contend with, the Reds finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League for just the second time in seven seasons.
By having the extra time to develop his squad before joining Europe’s elite competition, it allowed Klopp to cement his ideas and tactics before sending his Red army out into battle with Europe’s elite.
Salah signs for LFC — June 2017
Believe it or not, Klopp didn’t identify Salah as a target. It was Michael Edwards and the scouting team that convinced the boss to take the former Chelsea forward.
The German’s relationship and faith in Edwards has been one of the biggest payoffs for him. Mo Salah has been a revelation at Liverpool.
The Egyptian was determined to prove himself in the Premier League after his first spell was clouded in disappointment at Chelsea. Salah won the Premier League Golden Boot and the PFA Player of the Year awards during his first season under Klopp.
They have a unique and special relationship that is evident to see. They always embrace and have a final hug before the players walk out the tunnel at Anfield. It’s as if it’s a superstition that they must embrace, like father and son before the game starts. We all hope it’s a superstition that lasts forever!
Van Dijk joins LFC — January 2018
What can I say about our number four that hasn’t already been said?
In a previous piece I analysed Klopp’s signings, and I reckon 95% of the players he has brought to club have made a significant impact. That is some record!
Klopp is a man made of absolutes. If that’s the player he wants, it’s that player or nothing. Never has this been more accurate than waiting an extra six months to sign Virgil van Dijk and give all Liverpool fans an extra Christmas present. That photo of Virgil, the Liverpool jersey and that Christmas tree was a delight to see!
The Dutch defender has transformed this Liverpool defence and given the players and the fans the confidence that we are solid at the back and we would not be where we are without him. At the time, it was a world-record fee for a defender, Liverpool have rarely spent ‘world-record fees’ before, so this was a signal of intent by the club.
Liverpool v Real Madrid — May 2018
Defeat to Real Madrid in 2018 was Klopp’s sixth final defeat in a row as a manager and his third as Liverpool boss.
Liverpool deserved to be in the final. This was no lucky route to the final. The Reds has been dominant in the group stage, they battered Porto, Manchester City and AS Roma — just — in the knockout stages to book their place in Ukraine.
Liverpool matched Madrid on the night and it looked like they had control until Loris Karius made a mistake that will haunt him for the rest of his career.
The next day, Klopp was seen signing with fans in a video that epitomised how much the German fits perfectly into Liverpool culture. If you have not seen the “Madrid had all the f***ing luck” video, then check it out. It’s sort of a spoiler when you listen to the lyrics.
Just like after Basel, Klopp instilled a mentality into his players — and the fans — that defeat does not mean the end for this squad. We would come back stronger and be back in another final fighting for Ol’ Big Ears once again. Who knew we would do it so quickly?
Liverpool v Barcelona — May 2019
Dubbed ‘The Miracle of Anfield’, that night against the Catalan giants will go down as the greatest night in the history of the stadium.
Losing 3-0 from the first leg of this semi-final, added to the dampened mood that was bestowed by a rare Vincent Kompany winner the night before against Leicester and the crippling fact that neither Mo Salah nor Bobby Firmino would be available to play, made it look like a mammoth task for Liverpool to secure a spot in the final of Europe’s greatest cup competition.
Klopp said to the players before the game, that it was an impossible task. But because it is you, anything is possible.
Divock Origi set Anfield on a rollercoaster of emotions and lifted the spirits of everybody connected to Liverpool Football Club. He slotted home the early goal that was required and Anfield was alive once again with new hope.
Gini Wijnaldum came on as a substitute to score a brace in quick succession to equal the tie at three goals each and Anfield erupted like never before.
But it was in the 79th minute when the quick thinking of Trent Alexander-Arnold (and a clever ball boy) whipped in a cheeky corner to the unsuspecting Barcelona defenders and Origi was there to tap home the fourth goal that sent the Reds to Madrid.
That night epitomised everything about this wonderful football club and again showcased why we are a team that never gives up, gives everything to the last minute and why Anfield European night’s cannot be matched by any other stadium in world football.
Liverpool v Spurs — June 2019
You always remember your first, as the saying goes. Klopp’s first trophy as Liverpool manager was the biggest — sixth European cup victory added his name among the elite managers at Liverpool.
Delivering club football’s biggest prize gave Klopp the victory he was craving for. As previously mentioned, he had lost his previous six finals and lost his last two Champions League Finals, but that streak had finally ended on June 1, 2019, in Madrid.
Klopp is now a Liverpool manager that has delivered a major honour. He has given his players the sweet taste of victory. It’s a moment where it turns your team into a team of winners. Once you get your first, that winning mentality is instilled in the team and great teams usually go on to win more.
Four years after Klopp declared at his first press conference: “If I sit here in four years, I am pretty confident we will have one title,” he has delivered the Champions League trophy, the club’s highest ever points total, and put the club back to the top of European football.
The 19/20 season has started perfectly for Klopp and his side. It seems they are more determined than ever to win the club its first league title in 30 years.
There is still a long way to go, but if Klopp can win the Premier League, will he be crowned our greatest ever manager, given how he has turned this club around? Time will tell.
I just hope we get to have the actual conversation come the middle of May!