Jurgen Klopp’s arrival at Anfield signals a statement of intent from Liverpool. No longer will they be smitten with the flavor of the month manager domestically or try desperately to cling on to past glories. Liverpool are finally acting like the big club they often proclaim to be. But not only does this feel like a risky move for Klopp, it feels like a last chance for Fenway Sports Group, too.
No great decision comes about in life from playing it safe. Since Fenway Sports Group took over Liverpool, safe has been the mantra of the ownership group. No doubt that’s understandable, considering the club were close to bankruptcy before FSG took over, but hiring Kenny Dalglish and then Brendan Rodgers felt risk averse, even at the time. Even not sacking Rodgers after last season when it looked like he should be on the way out felt safe. The club’s transfer committee hasn’t helped matters either.
But with Klopp entering Anfield’s hallowed purview, FSG are going big. Klopp was the biggest name in the managerial free agent pool, and he has the ability to bring Liverpool back to the top. His style won plaudits across Germany and Europe, and will soon win plaudits in the Premier League for its ambition, verve and style – all aspects Liverpool supporters want to see in their football.
With the right players, Liverpool can take the Premier League for their own. But, as always, there’s a catch:
Jurgen Klopp has the ability even still to force clubs to write a blank check for him. His pedigree speaks for itself, even if his demeanor and perception probably prevented him from getting Real Madrid’s job in the summer (which, if he wasn’t Jurgen Klopp, the resume would have gotten him any job in football). Liverpool have shelled out hundreds of millions of pounds in transfer fees recently, and signing Klopp up probably didn’t come very cheap.
But the biggest worry for FSG and their new manager is quite possibly Klopp himself. He is somewhat of an ideologue; a man who is hell-bent on sticking to philosophy come hell or high water. That philosophy famously can be described as “rock and roll football,” which can be described as high pressing on steroids. When comparing his system to Arsene Wenger’s when his Dortmund team played Arsenal two years ago, he described the philosophies this way, “He likes having the ball, playing football, passes… it’s like an orchestra…But it’s a silent song, yeah? I like heavy metal.”
SEE MORE: The strengths and weaknesses of Jurgen Klopp.
Heavy metal football, like the music, requires a certain type of player to perform it. Does Liverpool have those players right now? Their midfield bread and butter is James Milner and Jordan Henderson, two players who you couldn’t see shredding on stage like Metallica, let alone high pressing like Klopp’s Dortmund teams of old. The personnel right now does not match, and Klopp doesn’t have much time to get that right before his new team plays Spurs.
FSG probably won’t care too much about early results and ones that go sideways because of personnel deficiencies, though. They can only see the best-case scenario, which, if it comes true, is a game changer in the Premier League. But Klopp is one to demand complete control of transfers, which is something he’s either relented on or was promised by FSG. But the transfer committee may yet step in at the last and make the decisions anyway. They aren’t going anywhere but instead may have a new voice ringing in their ears, like Slayer songs.
There is an underlying feeling though that this might be FSG’s last chance to get things right. If Klopp fails, then isn’t almost every other manager in the world doomed to fail at Anfield? Fundamental changes to the club would have to be mad. So many believe that he can and will succeed, even if it will take plenty of time to do so, but does FSG and Liverpool have the time to wait?
Jurgen Klopp’s arrival to Liverpool and the Premier League is a game changer, be it in success or failure. In success, the Premier League might be Liverpool’s to lose. In failure, it might mean one of England’s heritage clubs has to do some serious and far reaching soul-searching about its identity.
It’s time for both FSG and Klopp to prove their credentials. At least for the former, it feels like a last chance.
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family