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Jurgen Klopp Has Brought the Noise Back to Anfield as Liverpool Gun for European Final Return

27/04/2016 13:15

Things are far from boring around Anfield.

In a whirlwind few weeks for Liverpool Football Club, they've pulled off a miraculous comeback against Borussia Dortmund to reach the Europa League semi-final, battered Everton in the Merseyside Derby and felt the shockwaves of news that centre-back Mamadou ​Sakho faces a lengthy suspension for failing a drugs test.

Yes, Jurgen Klopp has definitely brought the noise back to the Kop. He was always going to, though, wasn't he? The eccentric German was never going to be a vanilla appointment, lulling his team into bland repetition and going through the motions with the media. No, Klopp is far from a German Van Gaal.

Unlike the curmudgeonly Dutchman steward of Old Trafford's throne, Klopp feels a genuine affinity with the Liverpool fans. Before that exhilarating Dortmund game at Anfield, Klopp could feel the power of the fans, the belief and the sense of anticipation. There's a genuine connection starting to blossom here and, unlike Van Gaal in Manchester, Klopp is never likely to be in danger of becoming a scapegoat.

It hasn't been the smoothest of passages for Klopp since his touchline debut ended in a drab 0-0 with Tottenham back in October. Six months have elapsed and Liverpool have endured both dizzying highs and shattering lows, but there's undoubtedly a feeling that Klopp has instilled a confidence and thirst in this squad, who have duly responded to his infectious charisma. The players themselves have upped their performance levels dramatically in recent weeks, unearthing a sheen and swagger that suggests a charge at the Premier League title is not completely beyond their capabilities next season.

Neither is the Champions League. While Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City all face the distinct possibility of missing out on a top four spot, the Reds can launch themselves into Europe's showpiece club competition through the side door. They've already overcome Thomas Tuchel's Dortmund who, in many ways outshine the team Klopp oversaw in the Bundesliga; surely now, Liverpool's confidence is sky-high in preparing to take down the fourth-placed club in La Liga.

However, the Yellow Submarine are likely to keep Klopp honest. They're not quite Atletico Mardid, but they're also not far off. A consistent side who love to dominate possession when playing at the Estadio El Madrigal, Marcelino's men are both well adept at withstanding immense pressure and can launch a devastating counter-attack with pace and power through the likes of Denis Suarez and Cedric Bakambu. But they have their weaknesses, too, mainly in defence. Their centre-half Eric Bailly is noted for making rash decisions at times, so Klopp will instruct his attackers to press him aggressively and prompt mistakes.

The prospect of returning to a European final is indeed exciting for Liverpool fans but they have reason to look much further on the horizon, too. Klopp is not a transitional manager. He's a long-term investment and that investment is already showing signs of the prosperous times to come. With that Dortmund comeback, Klopp evoked cherished memories of Istanbul. With the merciless battering of Everton, he emphatically snatched all bragging rights which are precious in a period when Liverpool's superiority complex over the Toffees has been thin at best. Now, he has the opportunity to transform a sometimes torturous campaign into one worth savouring.

The absence of Divock Origi will be felt, yes, especially as the Belgian striker was exceptional in leading the lines over both legs against Dortmund. However, Liverpool still boast an attacking embarrassment of riches and the return to both form and fitness of Daniel Sturridge is particularly timely.

On a cautionary note, Liverpool's mini-collapse and surrender or two points against their former manager Rafael Benitez on Saturday highlighted their shortcomings and inconsistencies. The thrilling zest of their attack dissipated in the second half as they descended into a maddening inability to stem the rising Geordie tide. It crushed their hopes of a fifth successive win in all competitions and wasn't ideal preparation for the Villarreal game, leaving Klopp understandably vexed and demanding more.

But that happens when you're overlooking such a wild and thrillingly emotion-charged squad. You'll sometimes follow a 201 loss to West Ham in the FA Cup with a 6-0 win away at Villa, or hammer Manchester City 3-0 just three days after losing 4-2 to the same side. That's Klopp's Liverpool. They're not predictable. They're certainly not dull. But they're still capable of so many great things next season.

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