Has Jurgen Klopp been a success during his first two years as Liverpool manager?

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at whether Jurgen Klopp's first two years in charge of Liverpool have been a success.

Two years ago today, Liverpool fans around the world rejoiced as the club brought in Jurgen Klopp as their new manager.

The German had developed a reputation for exciting football and upsetting Bayern Munich's domestic dominance with back-to-back Bundesliga titles, the DFB-Pokal and reaching the Champions League final during his time at Dortmund.

The prospect of seeing him in the Premier League was one plenty of fans were looking forward to - whether of a Liverpool persuasion or not - and he has not disappointed with his charismatic style on the touchline seeing him become a popular figure.

However, Klopp is still trophyless and celebrates his two-year anniversary off the back of a run which has seen his side win just one of their last seven outings across all competitions.

Here, Sports Mole delves a little deeper into whether or not it has been a successful 24-month spell for Klopp.

New Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp at Anfield on October 9, 2015© AFP



Premier League progress

There is more competition for the top four places in the Premier League than ever before right now, with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and the Manchester clubs joining Liverpool in the 'big six'. All of them begin the season expecting to qualify for the Champions League, meaning that two big clubs will always miss out.

Last season it was Arsenal and Manchester United - although the latter redeemed themselves by winning the Europa League to book their place in the Champions League. With such fierce competition, the primary priority for all six clubs at the start of a new campaign will be to finish in that top four, before they can begin thinking about the Premier League title.

Of course, ending their 27-year wait to lift English football's biggest prize remains the ultimate goal for Liverpool, but given their recent finishes a top-four spot should be regarded as an achievement when they are up against the mega-money of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Klopp has had just one full season in charge at Anfield, and he steered Liverpool to fourth place last term to book their spot in the Champions League for only the second time in the past eight years.

Jurgen Klopp celebrates during the Champions League playoff between Liverpool and Hoffenheim on August 23, 2017© SilverHub

It is now a well-worn statistic that Brendan Rodgers fared better in his opening 75 Premier League games than Klopp has, but it is worth remembering that Rodgers boasted the likes of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard amongst his ranks - arguably Liverpool's two greatest players of the Premier League era.

The near-miss season of 2013-14 will be remembered as Rodgers's finest moment as Liverpool boss - and rightly so - but the Northern Irishman also finished in seventh and sixth during his other two full seasons at the helm.

Indeed, since the beginning of 2009-10, Liverpool have finished sixth twice, seventh twice and eighth twice, so securing that fourth spot last season is certainly a major step in the right direction for Liverpool.

The final 14 months of Rodgers's reign compared to the last 14 months of Klopp's also reveals a telling comparison, with Klopp's Liverpool boasting a significantly better win percentage, 31 more goals scored and 14 more points gained.

The Reds do have some catching up to do already this season, though, with their recent run of form leaving them seventh in the table and behind the rest of the 'big six' after seven games.



Cup frustration

Kevin Gameiro celebrates scoring during the Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla on May 18, 2016© Getty Images

The one glaring absentee from Klopp's reign after two years is a trophy. It is by no means a new problem for Liverpool, who have only won one League Cup crown in the past decade, but it is a problem which needs to be rectified nonetheless. Liverpool won 10 trophies between 2000 and 2007, so the past 10 years have been a very barren spell by their standards.

Klopp has had chances to improve that, though, reaching two finals in his first season at the helm only to fall short in both.

A little over four months after taking charge of the team, Klopp was leading Liverpool out for the League Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley - a match the Reds went on to lose on penalties.

Less than three months after that, there was more cup heartbreak when Liverpool squandered a one-goal lead to lose the Europa League final against Sevilla in Basel - a result which not only saw another chance of silverware go begging, but also ended their last hope of reaching the Champions League in 2016-17.

The concern for Liverpool fans wanting to see regular silverware return to Anfield will be Klopp's dreadful record in cup finals. The German has won just one of his six appearances in finals across any competition, including losing each of his last five - the worst record amongst the top managers in world football.

Of course, merely reaching a final does suggest a certain degree of success, but that won't be enough for Liverpool fans who are used to more tangible rewards.

Liverpool have already been knocked out of the EFL Cup this season and have never made it past the fourth round of the FA Cup under Klopp, so the prospect of ending the wait for a trophy this season looks to be bleak even at this early stage of the campaign.



The Good

Mohamed Salah celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Arsenal on August 27, 2017© SilverHub

On their day, Liverpool look capable of beating almost any team in world football. Few clubs are more exciting going forward, with the pace of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah perfectly complemented by the intelligence of Roberto Firmino and wizardry of Philippe Coutinho.

The Reds ended last season with their second-highest tally of goals in the Premier League era, and plenty of those came in matches against their closest rivals, when Liverpool really come alive. Klopp's side have scored three or more goals in matches against fellow top-six sides on nine occasions under the German.

Indeed, since Klopp's appointment Liverpool have lost just two of their 20 matches against other teams from last season's top six, winning nine of those. The top-six mini-league sees Liverpool sit at the top of the pile having won more matches, scored more goals and amassed more points than Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal.



The Bad

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reacts during his side's Premier League clash with Newcastle United at St James' Park on October 1, 2017© SilverHub

Logic suggests that topping the mini-league of direct rivals in such convincing fashion should be a big step towards winning the title, but it is Liverpool's inconsistency against the smaller teams in the Premier League which has been their biggest downfall under Klopp.

Unable to utilise their attacking pace as much against a team more focused on defending, Liverpool have often failed to break down teams throughout Klopp's reign and already this season have dropped points at the hands of Watford, Burnley and Newcastle United.

The statistics prove Liverpool's failures - they have won less than 53% of their matches against teams outside the top six since Klopp's arrival, which is the worst record of any of their direct rivals.



The Ugly

Stefano Okaka scores the opener during the Premier League game between Watford and Liverpool on August 12, 2017© Offside

Liverpool's poor record against teams they are expected to beat certainly makes a title challenge harder, but the root of their problem lies in defence.

The Reds have conceded more goals than any of their top-six rivals since Klopp's arrival, including 28 from set pieces - only Watford, Stoke City and Crystal Palace have conceded more in the Premier League over the same period.

Only Palace and West Ham United have made more errors leading to goals too (18), so the crux of the problem seems to be down to individual lapses.

This could be because the players are not good enough, but Klopp must shoulder some - if not all - of the responsibility for that. Liverpool have spent more than £150m on midfielders and forwards under the German, compared to less than £18m on defenders and goalkeepers. Four of the current first-choice back five were at the club under Rodgers.

None of the other top sides have neglected their backline so blatantly in the transfer market of late, with Spurs, City, United and Chelsea all having splashed the cash on defensive reinforcements during the summer.

Worryingly for Liverpool, there have been problems at the other end of the field in recent weeks too, with Klopp's side paying the price for profligacy in front of goal, but while Mane and Coutinho's tallies of 13 goals apiece last season were the higher by any Liverpool player since Suarez's exit, it is still in defence where the main issues lie.



Verdict

Jurgen Klopp watches the warm-up ahead of the Premier League game between Liverpool and Burnley on September 16, 2017© Offside

Klopp's primary objective when taking over was first and foremost to guide the club back into the Champions League, so by that measure it has been a successful first two years for the German.

However, there is no doubt that Liverpool are far from the finished product and they have a lot to do if they are to catapult themselves back amongst the title challengers.

There have been some glorious times under Klopp - the 4-3 Europa League semi-final win over Borussia Dortmund, the numerous stunning performances against direct rivals and reaching two cup finals in his first seven months as manager to name a few - but the margins for success are so small in football.

Liverpool have slipped down the list of favourites to finish in the top four this season, yet it was barely a month ago that they were being hailed as genuine title challengers following their 4-0 drubbing of Arsenal.

It is a long road ahead of the Reds if they want to ultimately get back to the top of English and European football, but Klopp does at least seem to have got them heading in the right direction.

Has Jurgen Klopp been a success in his two years as Liverpool manager?

Yes
No
Yes
52.5%
No
47.5%
Mohamed Salah celebrates equalising during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Burnley on September 16, 2017
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