By Biola Kazeem (@biolakazeem)
Jurgen Klopp joined Liverpool as manager of the English club in 2015, five
months earlier than Manchester City announced the signing of Spaniard, Pep
Guardiola. Yet, when the two teams meet on Sunday in the Premier League,
Pep’s City would be arriving the Anfield as ‘waiting’ Champions following
an impressive unbeaten run that has seen them tear apart teams (as Liverpool would remember in the first leg), while Klopp’s Liverpool remains mired in an ugly top four fight, after falling 18 points behind the men in blue.
Such is the almost parallel nature of how the fate of both men has turned
since they arrived England to lots of fanfare. Despite initial stuttering
and a first trophy-less season of his career, Pep Guardiola has risen
above detractors, solidified the excuse of his support base on the need to
settle in and acclimatize, and is now leading Manchester City to another
League title and possible European triumph.
In fact, some bookies have already paid out money to those that bet that
Manchester City will win the league, but as I’m writing this, NairaBET
still has a token to offer if you bet on them to win the league.
Jurgen Klopp, on the other hand, still relies on the same old excuses such
as newness to the league and inadequate squad to explain away repeated
failures, especially a poor defence that offers free therapy and redemption to struggling opposing strikers.
But with every passing game, his excuses ring hollow and the need for him
to put forward a team that can compete couldn’t be more urgent.
Indeed, it could be argued that a direct comparison with Pep Guardiola is
unfair, given the mind-blowing level of support (read: cash) that the
Catalan has enjoyed at Manchester City, but with a spend of £221,300,000
in two years, Jurgen Klopp should have more to show than just passionate
side-line hugs and quick athletic dashes.
The addition of players like Mohammed Salah, who has scored 17 goals in 21
appearances, and the incredible form of Firmino who looks set to better
his record of 11 goals last season having already scored nine,coupled with
the contribution of Sadio Mane, show that Liverpool do not have a scarcity
The porous defence has already been given a lift with the record signing
of Virgil van Dijk from the team’s favourite store, Southampton.
More damning for Jurgen Kloppis the fact that with far less investment and
in his first season, Antonio Conte took over a Chelsea side that flirted
with relegation the previous season and led them to an improbable League
title, having out-managed others and inspired a re-introduction of a
formation that involves fielding three defenders.
Despite suffering a massive drop in form this season, the London-side is
still ahead of Liverpool with two points in the EPL.
Should he in fact decide to hold on to financial strength as the
difference, the excuse fizzles out in cup competitions such as the Caraboa
Cup where the club has endured humiliating defeats and knock-out to
smaller sides such as Leicester City, and embarrassing road performances
like the 4 – 1 drubbing at White Hart Lane against Pochetinno’s Tottenham.
The fact that the conversation is shifting from Klopp doing one better
than his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, who was just a Gerard slip away
from the League title, to a litany of excuses and growing doubts if he
represents a good signing at all shows the slipping standards at the club
and the need for him to make a statement by winning a trophy.
Liverpool fans have endured a torrid time for decades and in the exit and
entry of managers at the club, they have had enough of promises that never
What they, and the club, need is a manager who, in addition to sprinting
in and out of tunnels in a passionate show of desire, can also sprint to a
title; especially the league title.
Time is running out, Jurgen.
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Picture Credit: premierleague.com