Jürgen Klopp stands as Liverpool's harshest critic as Man City near ominous record 4 months ago

Jürgen Klopp stands as Liverpool's harshest critic as Man City near ominous record

"It was not our plan tonight to give City the chance to run away."

When Jürgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015, Manchester City were sitting top of the Premier League and looking for their second title under the guidance of Manuel Pellegrini.

Advertisement

The Chilean and his side had benefitted by Liverpool failing to abide by Steven Gerrard's 'This does not f***ing slip now' mantra in 2013/14. Will the Reds fell away the following season, José Mourinho penned his own perfect Chelsea return by beating City to the title in 2015.

Pellegrini responded by bringing in £150million worth of talent, including Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi. Their biggest out-going was Alvaro Negredo [to Valencia], who fetched £22million back for the City coffers.

City won 13 of their first 17 games to sit pretty in the league, Champions League and League Cup. They had slipped up in consecutive games, against West Ham and Spurs, in the league to briefly cede top spot, only to bounce back by hammering Newcastle and Bournemouth.

Just over a month into Klopp's reign on Merseyside, City welcomed Liverpool to Manchester and everything was to change. Klopp's side shredded Pellegrini's and won 4-1. It was a jarring wake-up call and City's league challenge soon imploded. They would finish fourth and, with Leicester City celebrating an unlikely league triumph, Pellegrini on his way.

Advertisement

City responded by bringing in Pep Guardiola and spending £171million that summer of 2016. Liverpool had stirred the hornet's nest.

Liverpool Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola shakes hands with Jurgen Klopp ahead of the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, in 2019. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Manchester City near ominous record

Advertisement

Five Premier League trophies have been handed out since Guardiola arrived in Manchester. Antonio Conte led Chelsea to the 2017 title while Klopp ended Liverpool's 30-year league drought in July 2020. City have won three of them and - currently six points clear - look well set to make it four.

While Liverpool have proved themselves capable of beating Guardiola's men on their day, the spectre of a ceaseless, ever-winning City looms large. It only takes a draw here and a defeat there and you are suddenly facing a chasm.

City are always capable of these scary winning streaks that often stretch into double figures before someone can bloody their nose. Every season that City have won the league under Guardiola, they have had a 10+ game winning streak.

  • 17 games (2017/18)
  • 13 games (2018/19)
  • 15 games (2020/21)
Advertisement

Should they defeat Brentford, away, today, they will have won 10 straight in the league. This is what the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea are dealing with.

For those looking to excuse Liverpool as they face the prospect of falling 12 points behind City, by the time of their next game, just point to the paragraphs above.

That reality is not something that Jürgen Klopp is settling for, though, and neither should their critics. The club's harshest critic right now, though, is their manager. They are getting an easy ride in many other outlets and shows.

Liverpool Mohamed Salah pictured during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at The King Power Stadium. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)
Advertisement

Liverpool in danger of falling too far behind

Liverpool play football in an exciting manner and have a range of quality attackers, tidy midfielders, two of the best fullbacks in the game and a goalkeeper that makes up for the odd ricket with a string of superb, match-winning saves.

Their only defeat of the league season, so far, was away to West Ham, back in early November. They responded to that with six wins on the spin but have faltered in their past two outings. With City [17 goals in their last three wins] ploughing on, Liverpool have picked a bad time to flag.

Against Spurs, their high defensive line was exploited on multiple occasions. Had Harry Kane, who was lucky to be still on the pitch, been more clinical, the Londoners would have won the day.

Klopp responded by blasting the match officials and slamming the league for congested festive fixtures that have long been part of the English football furniture. The German got his wish, and his players got a rest, when Leeds United's Covid issues forced a December 26 game postponement.

On Tuesday, Liverpool faced a Leicester side that had lost 6-3 to City just 48 hours before. Brendan Rodgers, the man Klopp replaced, had his players well drilled and primed to cause their visitors problems. Leicester still needed Kasper Schmeichel to have an excellent game but they more than earned their 1-0 win.

As that result sank in and many Liverpool fans feared the title was slipping away, the general critique from the TV pundits and match reports was that this was an off-day for the Reds. No major dramas, but a winning return rapidly required.

Liverpool's performance was similarly flat to that of Manchester United [a speck in the title race distance] against Newcastle. While several column inches and headlines were devoted to how flat Ralf Ragnick's Covid-hit side were, the Match of the Day focus was on how good Leicester were. Liverpool, in the main, got a pass.

In the end, it was left to Klopp to read the riot act to his squad, ahead of Sunday's game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge:

"It was not our plan tonight to give City the chance to run away or whatever. But if we play like tonight, we don't have to think about catching up with City. But if we play our normal football, we can win normal football games. We have to see how many points we can get and we will see what that means."

"I don't have a proper explanation for tonight but to find this explanation is my main concern and not, in this moment, the gap to City... I did not like a lot in our football game. That is not cool," he added.

Klopp took over from Rodgers when Liverpool were 10th. Although they eventually finished eighth, it would be unfair to hang that season on him.

However, if he finishes this season behind Manchester City again it will have been his sixth full tilt at winning the league with an impressively assembled squad.

Others may give him a pass but to Klopp, that harsh critic and holder of high standards, it would be deemed a failure.