There was a lot of buzz among supporters when Klopp arrived. Has he been everything you thought he’d be?
Dave Usher: He has, and then some. Morale was at rock bottom when Klopp arrived, and other than perhaps Pep Guardiola, there isn’t another manager out there who has the personality and reputation to have immediately lifted everybody’s chins off the floor in the way Klopp did.
He has put smiles on everybody’s faces and made Liverpool a fun team to watch again. No-one has scored more goals than the Reds over the past 12 months, which is incredible when you consider the state they were in when he arrived. Now he just has to sort out the defence.
Steven Kelly: His charm, energy and passion are infectious. He’s clearly energised the whole team and the supporters too.
As a fan who is wary of premature celebration it’s easy to call for calm and patience but hard to avoid being swept away yourself by the euphoria. The man himself keeps claiming there’s a long way to go. Short of going round throwing cold water in everyone’s face, there’s not much else he can do. Should Liverpool falter this season, it’s more likely to be blamed on a lack of top class players rather than the coach.
Are Liverpool where you thought they’d be one year after he took over?
SK: More or less. A lack of European football clouds the issue, whereby an eighth-place finish wouldn’t have been expected last season.
That means adjusting ambitions for this one. Where simple improvement is sometimes OK, taking advantage of competing clubs’ European workload comes into the equation. A year on there’s no doubt whose team this is. That’s the clearest indication Klopp has made an impact already.
No Liverpool manager is sacked if he’s improving the team. Only a fool would claim Klopp isn’t doing that.
DU: It depends how you look at it. Having already reached two cup finals and with the team now sitting in fourth place (just two points behind the leaders), you’d probably say he’s exceeded expectations. The counter-argument to that is how the team played in both of those cup finals and the fact they finished eighth last season.
I don’t think you can quantify the impact Klopp has had just by looking at it in just basic terms, though. I prefer to use the eye test. How has it looked? Pretty good for the most part. The football has been amazing at times, and it’s just a lack of consistency that has been a problem. I hoped Klopp would get the team playing like his great Dortmund side did, and a year on I’d say he’s well on track to doing that. On their day they’re as good as anybody.
Is there anything that’s still worrying?
SK: Fitness would be the major concern. After beating Swansea, three key players left with injuries. It’s the kind of thing you expect in spring, not autumn.
Consistency can only be measured over whole seasons, not nine matches. There’s a tendency to underrate teams, as the first half against Swansea demonstrated.
The fans can become starry-eyed, but the professionals must stay grounded.
DU: I’m not concerned about fitness or injuries as that’s just how the game is going now and every club seems to be picking up injuries, so it’s not just Liverpool. It’s possible that Klopp’s all-action style might eventually see players run out of steam late in the season, but the lack of European football should help on that front.
The lack of consistency is still the biggest worry I have, but I’m also concerned about the goalkeeping situation. Simon Mignolet isn’t bad, but if Liverpool are to get where they want to be, they need better. Is Loris Karius better? Only time will tell and in fairness to the young German he’s hardly had any of that yet, but you can’t blame anyone for being worried based on what he’s shown so far.
What qualifies as a good season this year?
DU: A good season would be a top-four finish. A very good season would be a top-four finish and winning a cup. A great season would be winning a cup and making a strong run at the title. Anything above that would be dreamland.
SK: Yes, top four for me too. The cups can be temporarily shelved because of last season’s two finals. The league must take priority.
Should Liverpool stay in a challenging position by 2017, ambitions will increase but Klopp may be wary of that. He knows that some of his predecessors fell away after one title challenge. This time Liverpool must plant their flag and stay there. Building a squad that lasts the pace every season must be his priority.
Will you win the league under Klopp?
SK: After 26 years of disappointments perhaps expectations aren’t as overwhelming as before. Maybe Liverpool’s owners are the key factor here? If Klopp proves he has the right stuff, he must be backed to the hilt since other clubs are spending freely.
DU: I have to say yes because if it doesn’t happen under this man, then you’d have to wonder if it ever will. He’s one of the best in the business.