Another day, another defeat for defending champions Liverpool. The 2019-20 Premier League winners have this year dropped far beneath the impressive standards set by themselves last season, conjuring a disappointingly tame defence of their title.
A defeat to Fulham at the weekend saw Liverpool drop to eighth in the Premier League table, an incredible 22 points adrift of leaders Manchester City. Liverpool’s title defence has been all but over for weeks, having won just one of their last seven league outings; a barren run that includes six successive home defeats.
From what was one of the most impressive accomplishments of manager Jurgen Klopp’s career, this has proven to be undoubtedly his biggest challenge to date. A run of results like Liverpool have had during the past two months would leave any top-flight manager under pressure, though we must not overlook the work that Klopp has done until now.
Crucially, the German chief secured Liverpool a priceless first title of the Premier League era, whilst also leading them to a Champions League win in 2018-19. Liverpool’s lengthy injury list has had some bearing on results, though admittedly, there are other clubs that too have been struggling; so you can’t make that the root of the problem.
There are always going to be comparisons to their success last season, but so long as Liverpool themselves were a cut above the rest, perhaps their rivals were playing well below their potential.
Look at Man City this season, for example. They’ve looked back at their best after missing out on the title a year ago, while Man Utd and Chelsea are improving. Leicester have also entered the running for a top four place, and coupled with the surprise form of West Ham, as well as Everton and Tottenham, Liverpool have been left horribly adrift.
However, calls for Klopp to resign or be sacked are wide of the mark. There has also been talk even of Klopp replacing Joachim Low as head coach with the German national football team after this summer’s European Championship. If Liverpool were to consider alternatives to Klopp, club legend Steven Gerrard has been tipped as the obvious choice to take the reins at Anfield.
Gerrard’s managerial push comes in the immediate aftermath of Rangers’ Scottish Premiership title win, their first in 10 years. The former midfielder was appointed at Ibrox in 2018, and has since negotiated a drastic revival of the club’s fortunes in finally piping Celtic to Scotland’s most coveted prize.
We must also consider Gerrard’s work with Rangers in the Europa League, having secured safe passage to the last-16 of the competition for two successive seasons. This is of course to address the inevitable criticism that the Scottish league simply isn’t competitive enough. Gerrard needs to prove himself on multiple fronts.
However, he is still some way off being ready for the Liverpool job, a role which he appears destined to take at some stage during his managerial career. Such an appointment as this stage of his career would be a massive gamble for Liverpool, and one they need not take.
Take the Frank Lampard situation with Chelsea for example.
Lampard took over at Chelsea in 2019 and led the club to a top four finish and FA Cup win in his first campaign. However, a poor run of results amid a £200 million summer spend ultimately saw Chelsea and Lampard part ways in January.
Lampard had the passion for the club and managing at Stamford Bridge was no doubt a dream. But did he have the necessary experience and ability to succeed so soon? Liverpool ought to be careful not to fall into that same trap.
You might argue based on Gerrard’s own managerial path that he’d be better poised to take on a job at a big Premier League club than Lampard was. The reality is that Liverpool should ultimately persist with Klopp, and Gerrard should be allowed to continue to build on the fine work he has started north of the border.
It is a terrible season by Klopp and Liverpool’s recent standards; but they have earned the right to a bad season having set the bar so high. There is still so much potential there once they regroup and rebuilding under a new manager would set them back to square one.
A more immediate concern for Liverpool will be to safely navigate this turbulent period and restore some order to their rapidly dwindling top four hopes. They face Wolves at Molineux next Monday, having hopefully secured a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of RB Leipzig this coming Wednesday.
Juventus already knocked out at the hands of Porto. PSG are 4-1 ahead of Barcelona and a wounded Liverpool side are thankfully 2-0 ahead of a RB Leipzig side who are looking to finish off the Champions of England in sensational fashion. You can bet on these outcomes on online football betting websites. Who will reach the promised land and go on to lift the Champions League at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul? Can Bayern Munich retain the fabled trophy or will it be somebody else? We’ll find out on May 29th 2021.