JÜRGEN Klopp has done so much good since he took over three years ago.
The German has established an identity that was missing for so long. He has got the supporters back onside after years of continued disillusionment caused by questionable decisions at board level. And he has brought excitement and a modern, attacking way of playing, which has helped put The Reds firmly back at the top table of English and European football.
The trust Klopp has established at Liverpool has been built up rapidly considering the periods of dishonesty that came before him, and although there will be days where he may feel let down — his comments as many headed for the exits during the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace three years ago this month showing as such — and vice versa, it is deserved given what he’s done at the club to this point.
One major component of that trust has been the signings he has made.
It is really rare in this day and age that the clubs challenging for major honours are able to find real value in the transfer market. The players who don’t cost world-record fees but who go on to become crucial for their new clubs, nevertheless.
However, Klopp has managed to find that value and then some.
Two of Liverpool’s more head-scratching signings in recent years were that of Andy Robertson and Xherdan Shaqiri, both signed from relegated clubs for small change in the context of modern football.
We’ve been nominated for @The_FSF awards and we’d appreciate your help by voting for us in the Fan Media of the Year category! 🗳️
Nice one 👊
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) November 6, 2018
For Robertson there were questions about what he would bring in terms of quality, having been part of a Hull City side who spent the majority of their time in the top flight trying to frustrate teams and drawing out whatever they could from games while being on the back foot.
For Shaqiri there was obvious star quality and ability to show his magic in rare flashes, but doubts over his attitude and application from the snapshots seen during his time at Stoke City.
Comments made by the likes of Gary Neville and Charlie Adam in the aftermath of Liverpool signing the Swiss international only served to add fuel to that fire, but he seemed determined to prove he was a scapegoat at the Bet365 stadium — and so it has proven.
His attitude has been spot on. He’s clearly a player with bags of confidence, but he can back it up and translates it into complete positivity on the pitch.
His technical ability has actually surpassed what some would have believed he is capable of, his debut against Southampton standing out as a game in which he turned on the style during a 45-minute spell before being somewhat harshly replaced at half time.
There have been question marks over Liverpool’s midfield and attack in particular this season, but when Shaqiri plays he breathes new life into the side as the link man between the two positions — a role which Philippe Coutinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had excelled in before exit and injury respectively.
The Swiss international’s goal today was a prime example of just how dangerous he can be. He can break the lines and play defence-splitting passes like Chamberlain and Coutinho, but he’s also got nous inside the opposition penalty area — arguably more so than those previously mentioned.
It was beautifully set up by Robertson, who himself has become such a crucial member of this Liverpool side since displacing Alberto Moreno around the halfway point of last season.
Any doubts about what attributes he brings to this Liverpool side vanished quickly once he found his feet, and he has gone from strength to strength since then.
He was arguably Liverpool’s star man today and his assist for Shaqiri made it five for the season, with his inch-perfect deliveries from the left-hand side becoming something of a trademark of his.
With Liverpool sitting pretty at the top of the league for now, the impact of Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah will be heralded as The Reds’ world-class stars continue to shine bright.
But today was a day for those players who weren’t always held in the highest regard.
Both Shaqiri and Robertson have tasted the ultimate disappointment in top-flight football. Let’s hope they get to taste the highest high. They deserve as much.
“Our left-back is the best footballer on the planet.” 👏
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) November 11, 2018