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Red Letter: Believe in Klopp, despite harsh Liverpool reality check

Dave Tindall reflects on a tough few days for Liverpool after the hammering at Manchester City and the Champions League draw with Sevilla.

So just the seven goals conceded in the last two games then!

Are we sure the £35 million spent on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wouldn’t have been better invested on a defender not called Virgil van Dijk?

Almost absurdly, our best defender at the moment could well be Alberto Moreno.

Yes, it’s been another head-scratching week in the life of a Liverpool fan.

In my last Red Letter column, the world looked very rosy. We’d just hammered Arsenal 4-0, had played some scintillating football to see off Hoffenheim and reach the Champions League and there was still hope of making some big signings in the final few days of the transfer window.

After the chastening experience of a 5-0 loss to Manchester City and a classic case of throwing two points away in a 2-2 draw with Sevilla, a reality check has well and truly been delivered.

So far this season, it seems the attacking dial has been turned up to supersonic while the defensive knob has been twiddled back from poor to hapless. We’ve become even more extreme. This is Liverpool on steroids.

Dare I say it, there was a moment in Wednesday’s game as our whole team was sprinting forward in Charge of the Light Brigade fashion when Kevin Keegan even came to mind.

Keegan won all sorts of fans for his gung-ho philosophy of ‘we’ll score more than you’ in those giddy mid-90s years with Newcastle and yet he was ridiculed too for being so naive.

Is this what we’ve become?

There’s a lot to be said for having a hugely charismatic leader throwing caution to the wind every game, guaranteeing fun and making us feel good about life. The problem is, we know how the story ends. Keegan’s Newcastle were the great entertainers and won precisely nothing.

The good news is that Jurgen Klopp is far higher up the tactical food chain than Keegan ever was and his CV already shows two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final with Dortmund.

And, with Klopp, let’s not forget that he likes projects rather than instant solutions.

You always got the feeling that Keegan would just pack it all in and walk out of the door when it wasn’t going his way. He didn’t want the hassle.

Klopp is a stayer. The German was at Mainz from 2001-2008 and at Dortmund from 2008-2015. I’ll happily have him with us for that length of time before the seven-year itch kicks in.

And it’s that thought that LFC fans need to remember when we throw up our arms in despair every time a soft goal is conceded.

He’s been here less than two years. In his first not even full season, he took us to the League Cup final and the Europa League final.

And in his first full campaign, Klopp marched us back into the Champions League, ending Arsenal’s 20 straight years of qualification and also finishing in front of a moneybags Manchester United side managed by Jose Mourinho. Not bad. Not bad at all.

All fans have become so accustomed to short-term, instant gratification that it seems too much to handle, a disaster even, if a top target isn’t signed in a transfer window.

But Klopp is playing the long game.

The £48 million paid to RB Leipzig to secure Guinea midfielder Naby Keita for next season looks a brilliant bit of business. Many top judges are convinced Liverpool have picked up the Bundesliga’s best player at almost a bargain price given what’s going on elsewhere.

And yet, had Klopp not been seeing the bigger picture ahead, he could have panicked, signed someone else for the right here and now and got a far inferior player. His thinking is the same for Van Dijk. Sure, it’s frustrating but there’s always the January transfer window or the one after that.

I’ll admit, I have to fight off this short-term thinking and mind-changing, especially when we do things like follow a convincing 4-0 win over a top team with a 5-0 loss to another.

Right now, if I were to take a thermometer reading of my expectations for the season, I’d say we’re far more likely to do something in the Cups than challenge for the title. We’re probably an ‘on our day’ team rather than one built for week in, week out success.

Top four? Arsenal are there for the taking but the Manchester clubs are looking a tad ominous while Chelsea and Spurs have settled down after early wobbles.

Let’s be honest, we played some great stuff against Sevilla and a 2-2 draw was daft. We had 24 shots to their 7 and 13 of ours were from inside the box. We ran them ragged for long spells and had Roberto Firmino’s spot-kick not struck the post we’d have been 3-1 up and looking more likely to win it 5-1.

Wednesday night doesn’t dim my expectations about having a big run in the Champions League this season although, having watched PSG dismantle Celtic 5-0, I’d rather not bump into them too soon.

Similarly, Saturday’s home game with Burnley in a quieter 3pm Saturday Anfield looks ‘one of those’ if we don’t start fast although I think we’ll get it done. If so, we’ll end the weekend no worse than three points off top spot so hardly a bad start.

So, before we get too carried away with this popular narrative that Klopp has a blind-spot in defense and we simply aren’t good enough, let’s think ‘project’. We’re not even two years into it folks, good things are around the corner.

And at least while Man Utd fans had to put up with a season of drab, dull football before taking flight this term, we’re having all sorts of thrills on our journey. We just need to believe that Klopp has the ship, actually make that a rocket, pointing in the right direction.


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