Jurgen Klopp and the Curse of the Runner Up

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been brilliant this season, impressing both in England and on the European stage. Even with a world class level of performance throughout this season, Liverpool might have nothing to show for it ultimately. The reason: Barcelona and Messi, Manchester City and their pile of cash. Klopp might yet again end up as the manager who dazzles but too often ends up as the runner up.

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Being in the shadow of a bigger team is not something Klopp is new to. During his seven years at Dortmund, he challenged the behemoth that is Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga and beat them to the title twice. However, Klopp’s success was followed by key players leaving for bigger teams. Mario Gotze and Lewandowski’s departures were probably the hardest to digest since they left for local rivals Bayern Munich. Dortmund did not have the history and financial capability to keep these players from leaving.

Klopp lifting the title with Dortmund

Luckily for Klopp, Liverpool FC do not have these problems. Historically, they are one of the two most successful clubs in England. Their transfer budget can only be bettered by petrol-money fueled teams like City and PSG or Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. Liverpool can keep their star players and will certainly not allow any transfers to local rivals.

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When the German coach joined the English giants, the club was still struggling to live up to their illustrious history. He built the team to his former Dortmund side’s image, implementing the same style of play that brought him success in Germany. Klopp made some shrewd signings and managed to create a deadly front three with Firmino, Mane and Salah, with whom he reached the 2018 Champions League final. Last year’s signings Allisson and Van Dijk provided the defensive stability needed to mount a title charge.

2019 is the first year where Liverpool has realistically had a chance to win the EPL since Brendan Rodgers’ run in 2013-2014.

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Klopp has now assembled what can arguably be qualified as his best ever team. It must be frustrating to still be struggling to bring in any silverware.

In the Premier League, you could argue luck has played a part in LFC being second. The finest of margins separate the two teams. Klopp’s team is so close to City he can probably smell Guardiola’s cologne.

As for the Champions League, Liverpool played their best football against Barcelona but came short due to the individual prowess of Messi and Suarez, while also missing a string of chances to get that crucial away goal.

At their best, Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund fell to Bayern Munich in the 2013 Champions League final. Upon coming to Liverpool, he lost two finals in his first year: the League Cup and Europa League. Real Madrid completed their hatrick of UCL wins against Liverpool FC last year. This season, City and Barca might just edge LFC in the English Premier League and Champions League respectively. Klopp seems to be oftentimes the runner up.

That being said, Jurgen Klopp is a phenomenal coach, who’s unfortunately lost against teams who were a little bit better when it really mattered. His tally of points this year would already have been enough to win the league in previous years. It’s just that City is also having a fantastic season alongside them.

See also: City’s Favorable Cup Draws

You can produce amazing football and still end up second. It reminds me a bit of how Sir Alex Ferguson rued Manchester United being in the Champions League finals against Barcelona twice, claiming he would probably have two Champions Leagues titles more without Messi and his Barcelona side. Just like Griezmann could have won much more had he not played in the Cristiano Ronaldo era.

LFC will challenge again next season and mature into an even better team, augmented with the likes of Trent Alexander Arnold and Joe Gomez, who are young and benefiting from a unique hands-on experience during this title tilt. Klopp will probably also make some major signings to improve an already scary team.

This season Liverpool might end up trophy-less but if Liverpool keep that level of football, a major title is surely coming to Anfield soon. Whether it’s a sixth Champions League or an elusive  nineteenth domestic league title, that remains to be seen.

Jurgen Klopp needs to win trophies at Liverpool to cement his legacy as one of the greatest coaches in the game. All the hard work and fantastic football will be in vain if Liverpool remain trophy-less. Nobody remembers who came second, however heroic their challenge was, and in that lies the curse of the runner up.


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