In the 55th minute of one of the most important matches in the history of English Premier League, Manchester City’s talisman Kevin de Bruyne equalized via free-kick. It was Chelsea 1 Cit 1. Chelsea took the lead through Christain Pulisic in the 36th minute, but Pep Guardiola’s men came back and their intent to prolong Liverpool’s wait was evident, but their vulnerability on the break cost them dearly: Fernandinho handled in a desperate 75th-minute goalmouth scramble.
𝟎𝟐 𝐌𝐚𝐲 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟔
Chelsea secure Leicester City's first Premier League title with a 2-2 draw against Spurs at Stamford Bridge
𝟐𝟓 𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐞 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎
Chelsea secure Liverpool's first Premier League title with 2-1 win against Man City at Stamford Bridge. pic.twitter.com/I7AkTNDw82
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) June 26, 2020
Fernandinho was sent off! Willian sealed the points and crowned Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool as the dominant league winners.
30 years! Yes, it has been 30 years since the fans of Liverpool waited for this moment.
In these 30 years, many things changed: Football took off in the United States. The Soviet Union fell. Brazil won the World Cup for the fifth time. There was a Spanish revolution for a few years. AC Milan rose and fell. Barcelona made quite a few heroes, while the dominance of Real Madrid had been the same – the best club in the world!
The 30-year wait is over. pic.twitter.com/Jlzzp5VovK
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 25, 2020
The baton of best footballer in the world had been passed from Marco van Basten to Roberto Baggio to Romario to George Weah to Ronaldo O Fenomeno to Zinedine Zidane to Rivaldo to Ronaldinho to Cristiano Ronaldo.
But one thing never changed and which is Liverpool remained without a Premier League title. Yes, at Istanbul, there was a fairytale, but otherwise, they had been either good or extremely below-par and became “once great” football side. They had their fans – the kids from the 80s and 90s, who watched them at their best and then witnessed the fall of an empire, which hardly showed the signs of reaching the top yet again!
The largest title-winning margin in English top-flight history is 19 points:
86 – Liverpool
63 – Man City
Jurgen Klopp's side is currently 23 points clear. pic.twitter.com/dbNIcXgnN1
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) June 26, 2020
Yes, there was hope back in the 2013-14 season when Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho really pressed hard to change the history, but in the very last moment, they blew it away.
After 2014, things started to change.
Appointment of the charismatic German coach Jurgen Klopp was a masterstroke for Liverpool back in 2015.
“We must turn from doubters to believers,” said the charismatic German as he sat in front of the cameras and lights of the world’s media.
Less than five years on, no-one doubts Klopp or his players. After a remarkable rise from 10th place on his arrival to European champions for the sixth time, they have now returned to their domestic perch as Premier League champions as well.
The break for COVID-19 pandemic made them wait for 3 months, and when football returned in England, the attritional display at Goodison Park started to sow the seeds of doubt, the Reds might make the weather heavier. Thankfully, Chelsea did not let that happen.
"We have to change from doubters to believers. Now."
5 Five years later
🏆 Premier League
🏆 Champions League
🏆 UEFA Super Cup
🏆 Club World Cup pic.twitter.com/9Su1HgQn5x
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) June 26, 2020
A team, which was not regarded among the best in Premier League let alone Europe, changed things in the span of just five years and this has not been easy for Klopp.
Klopp started to change things since he took over.
As BBC’s Phil McNulty wrote, “Klopp believes the training ground is where the difference is made. This is where the drills are run through, where tactical ideas are tried and tested. Bolt onto this some spectacular recruitment and you have the 2019-20 Premier League champions”.
“Every session is meticulously planned with his staff before training. Klopp will then address his players to outline their work in depth. He is not just Liverpool’s manager, he is Liverpool’s coach. Every aspect of every day is plotted and analyzed in minute detail”.
Klopp arrived at Anfield with his two closest, most trusted allies – Zeljko Buvac and Peter Krawietz.
Buvac and Krawietz had been impactful in Klopp’s management at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund. The trio came as a package wherever he went.
Within that structure, the taciturn Bosnian-Serb Buvac was known as “The Brain” for his awareness of tactical detail while German Krawietz was “The Eye” for his acute analytical skills.
But when Buvac’s 17-year association with Klopp ended suddenly in April 2018, it led to a new dynamic in Liverpool’s coaching set-up – and new levels of success.
Krawietz is now joined by Pep Ljinders.
The 37-year-old Dutchman had already made a huge impression at Liverpool, having worked at the club as an under-16s coach before being appointed first-team development coach in 2015.
3 years later, Ljinders left to take over as manager of NEC Nijmegen in Holland. It proved to be a short stint and when he left, Klopp had no hesitation in bringing him back for the start of the 2018-19 season to fill the gap vacated by Buvac.
Both Krawietz and Lijnders are assistant managers.
Krawietz runs a team of four analysts, focusing on all aspects of previous and forthcoming games – a role so integral it shapes training sessions and team selection. He is on the training ground every day.
Krawietz-Lijnders partnership emphasized set-pieces, defensive solidity, dominance, and attack at the center of the park and innovative displays.
Their work is transformed into deeds and the example had been right in front of our eyes for the last three years or so.
Each and every detail had been analyzed, exploited, and experimented. Such enlightened attention to detail even included the arrival of a dedicated throw-in coach, the Dane Thomas Gronnemark in 2018 – an appointment designed to eradicate errors and maximize the many re-starts from this position during games.
As McNulty wrote, “However, Liverpool and Krawietz are not slaves to specifics. He and Klopp still want room for free-thinking and spontaneity at set-pieces. What greater example than Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quickly taken corner that caught Barcelona cold in last season’s Champions League semi-final second leg at Anfield”?
“During a normal week at Melwood, Krawietz will usually present Klopp with 90 minutes of analytical detail which will be whittled down over the course of two meetings to a 25-30 minute presentation which the manager will deliver the day before the game”.
“The main aim of the session is that Liverpool’s players are made aware of their opponents’ strengths. But they also leave the room with greater confidence in their own ability to do damage”.
“Klopp, as ever, takes the final decisions. but the analysis provided by Krawietz has always been crucial. As is the more visible presence of the lively, tactically sharp Lijnders”.
“He is a vocal, traditional assistant who takes many training sessions along with Klopp. He is also the buffer between other non-football departments at Liverpool, shaping operational management and drawing up schedules to ensure players get enough rest, deciding when to train and maximizing performance”.
“Klopp’s confidence in himself and those around him is such that he says: ‘I know I’m good at a couple of things and really good at a few things and that’s enough. My confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me. That’s no problem. I need experts around me’.
The partnership achieved perfection by putting players in the right position and giving them the freedom to express.
Jordan Handerson had been galvanized as given the lead role. Roberto Firmino brought in from Hoffenheim, which raised doubts in 2015, but now laid to rest, given the role of a center-forward who can play as false 9 as well, proved vital to Liverpool’s success over the years. The almost-lost-in-transition, Mohamed Salah was polished and made a champion. Sadio Mane was brought on to inject spice, while the rise of Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson at the back, filled the holes, which were uncountable once upon a time. Meanwhile, the signing of Alisson Becker from AS Roma gave Liverpool back so much solidity that scoring goals for the opposition became a tough task.
Meanwhile, Klopp has recruited players and nurtured talents for the future as well so that the team does not lose way during transition periods.
Then the relationship between Klopp, sporting director Michael Edwards and Mike Gordon, the man with the second-biggest equity stake in the club, and who could be described as the “managing owner”.
The 30 years wait is over! Liverpool have won the Premier League title and for the Liverpool fans it means special. 30 years we've waited for this. We were school kids back then. We watched Liverpool decline. Gone doldrums. Now, we are watching them rise again. #YNWA pic.twitter.com/tVHticPQj6
— Faisal Caesar (@faisalyorker1) June 26, 2020
Gordon has the complete trust of principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner. While Henry may be the figurehead, Gordon is the most influential owner in many ways because he makes the crucial decisions along with Klopp and Edwards – whether it is signing, contract renewals or extensions, even down to the recruitment of academy coaches.
That’s how the empire of Klopp has been built in the last five years.
Hard work, in-depth study, and unity made things possible.
The best is yet to come from Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.