“We have to change from doubters to believers. Now.”
In his first press conference as Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp recognised the need for a mentality shift at the club, that had at that point gone 25 years without winning the league. Five years later, the club has finally ended their now 30-year wait for a title and the fans have well and truly adopted the tag of believers.
Klopp’s Reds haven’t just managed to stumble over the line, they have reached the summit at a canter, steamrolling the opposition and winning with seven games to spare. The Premier League’s seventh different champion still have records to play for. But how have they been so impressive?
It all stems from the man in the hot seat. Jurgen Klopp has always received plaudits for his man-management, his charisma, his ability to inspire his team and for his Gegenpressing style of football. But those plaudits were also used as sticks to beat him with by critics – he can motivate his players into a frenzy, release them onto the battlefield and hone in on the chaos that ensues, but is this consistent enough for a title charge?
In 17/18, Klopp’s men used the chaos to create a perfect storm – sweeping aside Manchester City 4-3, dismantling Roma 5-2, they were fast and frenetic without having the control needed for consistency. In the last two seasons, Klopp demonstrated he truly is one of the greatest managers in the world by transitioning his team’s style to a more well-oiled machine.
The Reds still embody their manager’s intensity but now it is controlled and measured. They sustain attacks, dominate teams on the ball as well as off it, they find a way to win the game and then see it out until the final whistle. Liverpool have won a staggering 14 matches by a single goal margin this campaign – they have been relentless and inevitable.
Klopp labelled his side “mentality monsters” after their incredible comeback against Barcelona last season and that tag has very much remained. On the field, they have won every type of game: snatching late wins against stubborn defences in Sheffield and Wolverhampton, resilient comebacks at Villa Park and at home to Tottenham and the imperious display of champions at home against the Manchester clubs and against Leicester on Boxing Day. Off the field, their mentality has never wavered – refusing to be drawn into talk about winning the title, staying professional until the job is done.
There is so much to be admired about this Liverpool side, not least of all is the fact that they have had to overcome arguably the greatest team in Premier League history in order to get their hands on the title. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are an unbelievable side. They play scintillating football, they boast a wealth of riches, they have a second XI that would annihilate most starting squads. They even beat the champions 4-0 just last week. Despite all this, Klopp’s men are 23 points ahead. 23 points. Few things contextualise the Reds’ superiority more than this.
There have been a multitude of factors that combined perfectly for Liverpool Football Club to achieve their long-awaited ambition. The mentality, the style, the manager and of course, the players. From the assurance of Alisson, the class of Van Dijk and the genius of Alexander-Arnold to the leadership of Henderson and the brilliance of Salah, Mane and Firmino.
This team have demonstrated a remarkable desire to deliver the holy grail to the Liverpool fans. They have successfully transformed every one of us. From doubters, to believers.