Three years on from Jurgen Klopp’s appointment as manager, it’s fair to say Liverpool have been transformed by the German.
Since Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers in October 2015, Liverpool have had a number of highs and lows as the side has slowly evolved to adapt to his philosophy.
We’ve taken a look back at the first starting XI he chose, for a 0-0 draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, to see just how much the team has changed.
One of the biggest challenges of Klopp’s tenure at Liverpool has been finding a dependable goalkeeper after both Mignolet and Loris Karius failed to prove themselves as reliable No.1s.
Eventually, it has taken a world-record fee (until Chelsea signed Kepa) to solve the problem position with the £65million arrival of Alisson from Roma.
The Reds faithful feel much more confident with the Brazil international between the posts, and the 26-year-old was recently nominated for the 2018 Ballon d’Or award.
Clyne would possibly still be Liverpool’s first-choice right-back were it not for an unfortunate long-term injury, but it speaks volumes that rather than sign a more experienced replacement, Klopp has kept faith with youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.
Despite an impressive start to the season at centre-back, Gomez switched to right-back against City after Alexander-Arnold missed out. Clyne, meanwhile, has been linked with a January move to Leicester, having made just one League Cup appearance so far this term.
Joe Gomez vs Man City
86% pass accuracy
3 key passes
2 tackles won
1 aerial won
— FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) October 7, 2018
It really does feel like a long time ago that Skrtel, signed in 2008 by Rafa Benitez, was playing for Liverpool, but it was in fact right up until the end of Klopp’s first season in charge.
Lovren has been a much-maligned figure at Liverpool but was excellent during their run to last season’s Champions League final.
The centre-back has struggled to break into Klopp’s starting XI this term due to the form of Gomez but made his first Premier League start of the campaign against Manchester City and produced an assured performance.
Another example of Klopp sticking to his principles even if it means losing out on a talented player. Sakho was considered Liverpool’s best centre-half during the early part of the German’s tenure, but he broke team rules too often and was eventually frozen out and moved on to Crystal Palace.
While Liverpool went on to display a defensive fragility, there were questions whether the manager had made the right call, but he eventually landed his man in January when Liverpool made Van Dijk the most expensive defender in history.
“Jurgen, transfer committee, anyone sign a f****** left-back,” read Jamie Carragher’s tweet after Liverpool were beaten by Sevilla in the Europa League final.
It has taken a while to get there, with even James Milner having to fill in for a season out of position, but Liverpool eventually arrived at the unheralded signing of Robertson, who has been nothing short of a revelation since establishing himself in the starting XI last season.
The only player to start both Klopp’s first game in charge and the draw with Manchester City.
Milner has had to adapt under the German, playing for a full season at left-back, but has now re-reinvented himself back in central midfield and the Yorkshire Figo is playing some of the best football of his career.
Lucas may be a cult hero at Liverpool, but there was a sense that the club needed to move on if they were to improve.
Henderson missed Klopp’s first match in charge due to injury, but, while he may not be the most popular figure, he has developed into a captain and calming presence, allowing the Reds’ more eye-catching players to grab the headlines.
Can was a trusted lieutenant of Klopp’s but left Liverpool in the summer to join Juventus on a free transfer.
Wijnaldum, in much the same vein as Milner and Henderson, has established himself as a reliable member of the Reds’ squad, starting in midfield ahead of new signings Naby Keita and Fabinho.
Like Clyne, Lallana could feel that he would be a part of Klopp’s starting XI – albeit in midfield rather than attacking role – were it not for unfortunate luck with injuries. The former Saints man established himself as a key player a couple of seasons ago, only for a string of fitness injuries to force him down the pecking order.
Salah may have started this season somewhat slowly in comparison to the highs of the second half of 2017-18, but it’s fair to say he has plenty of credit in the bank.
People say Mo Salah is a one season wonder. I say he is better than last year. Not only is his goals+assists similar after as many games he is creating chances for others as he is being double teamed and marked close.Once those goals start to go in top 3 will be devastating again pic.twitter.com/7EmeizqwWA
— LFC Scout Watch (@Mobyhaque1) October 6, 2018
Origi, bloody hell. It’s easy to forget the forward enjoyed a run in the first team in Klopp’s first season in charge, and his future looked bright when he scored five goals in five games towards the end of the season, only to suffer a nasty injury in the Merseyside derby.
After an uninspiring year on loan at Wolfsburg, Origi is back at Anfield but has yet to appear this season.
Firmino, on the other hand, could hardly embody Klopp’s ideals more emphatically, with his defensive work-rate matching his attacking brilliance as he has been transformed into a brilliant centre-forward.
When Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers, Coutinho was undoubtedly Liverpool’s best player, the player they could least afford to lose.
Fast forward three years and Coutinho has gone, swanned off to his dream £100million+ move to Barcelona, and Liverpool, well, Liverpool have actually got better.
Part of the reason is because Mane has helped form one of the most devastating front threes in Europe. And he also really likes copying his team-mates’ celebrations, which we really, really love.