It’s been 539 days of ‘what ifs’ for anyone who sides themselves with the red half of Merseyside.
539 days which were meant to be so sensationally different had Steven Gerrard — then club captain — not lost his footing, and watched collectively with millions of worldwide fans as his side’s title ambitions slipped away whilst the opposition obtained an easy goal.
For a club like Liverpool Football Club, success is what the fans crave the most. Not 3rd best, not 2nd best. The best. Champions… and the wait has frankly been far too long.
I’ll set the scene for what could have been.
To many it was meant to just be the same old under-achieving year under manager Brendan Rodgers. The campaign began with a few victories followed by the odd inexcusable defeat. Three steps forward and then always two steps back, an all too familiar trend seen by this modern day Liverpool side.
However Christmas came and went and the Reds found themselves atop the Premier League table. The previous four seasons the leader at Christmas had held the trophy aloft come May — history was starting to repeat itself. Liverpool boasted the best player in the league and the side scored goals for fun as they cantered to 14 wins on the trot.
Optimism was ripe around Anfield, and the lads had shown no sign of vertigo at top of the table.
This had to be the year that everyone was waiting so patiently for that ‘English Champions’ status to be restored to Liverpool.
May the 11th 2014. It wasn’t.
The Liverpudlian high-horse had been built so high that tears were inevitable as it came crashing down, with Manchester City pick-pocketing what the Reds had nine and a half fingers already on.
After the dust had settled the blame game begun. With fans reluctant to point the finger at Gerrard, a man who had given everything and anything for the club he loved, the easy target would be the manager, Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers had to be measured and calculated in his off season recruiting. That he was not.
Star player Luis Suarez left to Barcelona that summer, the Reds players representing England at the World Cup in Brazil played awfully — including Gerrard — and for Liverpool it was a case of what goes up must come down, with the latter somehow happening even more dramatically.
Liverpool fans — colloquially known as ‘The Kop’ — couldn’t be any hungrier for success. For some, the rise and fall of season 2013/14 could only be seen as a ‘flash in the pan’ type campaign. For others it had only whet the appetite for success and these supporters were convinced their side would bounce back in the new season, albeit without Suarez.
24th May 2015. Another season completed. Liverpool finish sixth.
Players they purchased from the sale of Suarez didn’t match the quality required at Liverpool; Brendan Rodgers tactics were once magical, but now they were one dimensional and those fans who were convinced their side would bounce back had all but lost their faith.
Stay on this path and the frustrated culture at Anfield would only continue to seep through the ranks.
Fast forward to the 4th of October 2015.
Eight games into the 2015/2016 season and after another meagre start to a new campaign, Brendan Rodgers time in charge of Liverpool Football Club came to an end. Some say harsh after making the Liverpool faithful dream again, others say overdue after the magical journey he had taken everyone on had stalled long before he was finally dismissed.
No manager, no faith and title hopes — dare I say it — slipping away.
Welcome Jurgen Klopp.
On the 8th of October 2015, Liverpool Football Club owners announced the signature of one of the world’s most renowned managers, German Jurgen Klopp.
With Klopp’s new three year deal, it meant much more than just a new man at the helm of one of the biggest football clubs in the world. I’ll go as far as saying Klopp’s signature was a non negotiable. It wasn’t just something that may halt Liverpool’s descent; it was the only thing.
It’s not just Klopp’s credentials of taking previous clubs to such lofty heights which has the Liverpool fan’s rubbing their hands together.
Yes, he’s been there and done that, and any football fan would know you need to know a thing or two about coaching if you can guide Borussia Dortmund to two German Bundesliga titles.
Yes, it’s only natural that fans will draw parallels between the position of that Dortmund side and where Liverpool stand today, hoping for some sort of replication.
But it’s not just results alone that will make The Kop dream again.
They needed a man who calls a spade a spade.
They needed an educator who won’t pull the wool over their eyes.
They needed a manager who will single handedly change the culture within the Liverpool change-rooms for the better.
So much so were the words of Klopp -“It’s time to change those doubters to believers” in his first media interview during his historical first day at the club.
Klopp made his managerial debut for Liverpool last Saturday evening Australian time, acquiring a point from a difficult away fixture against Tottenham Hotspur.
Proof of the galvanising effect of the charismatic 48 year old could already be seen by fans bearing giant flags with slogans emblazoned “We Believe”.
Chief Football Writer for BBC Sport, Phil McNulty, wrote that “there was a sense of staleness to the latter days of Brendan Rodgers’ time at Liverpool, both on and off the pitch, but this has already been lifted by a manager whom is already forging an unbreakable bond with his fans”.
‘The real work will begin at Melwood [Liverpool’s training base] this week’ said the pundits post match, who of course just can’t seem to get enough of Klopp as well.
But in my eyes, that notion of real work began when that dotted line was signed. The day the scruffily dressed, peaked hat wearing ‘normal one’ — as he wants to be known — announced himself as the man for the job.
It’s been much maligned over the last few years whose gone in and out of the revolving door at Anfield, but this time the club have got it right.
The magic of Klopp is only starting to blossom, mark my words.