This international break in the soccer world was an emotionally volatile one as we all struggled to come to terms with the heartbreaking attacks in Paris. It has been heartwarming to see how the soccer community has united around Paris, with the French national anthem playing before every game and all team members wearing black mourning bands.
Thankfully, the break is over and our attention can once again turn to the crazy unpredictability of the Premier League. Leicester City is on top, Jamie Vardy has equaled the record by scoring in 10 consecutive games and Chelsea actually won again. Before I launch into this week’s topic, I would like to congratulate all the European teams that qualified for UEFA Euro 2016, especially Hungary. I know I speak on behalf of my fellow Hungarians when I say that this has been a long time coming, since we last qualified for a major tournament in 1986.
Now back to Liverpool. Two words: Jürgen Klopp. This weekend’s 4-1 demolition of Manchester City was solid proof that the so-called “Kloppmania” that has gripped many Liverpool fans is well deserved.
In the short time that Klopp has been managing the team, Liverpool has lost only one game. While the league standings do not reflect this — as it sits in 10th place provisionally — there is a clear difference between the pre-Klopp team and the current team. The Reds actually play like a team now. They pass the ball, they are aggressive, they attack, they play with a fluid grace and intensity that seems to wear other teams down and most importantly, they play like they are having fun.
Under Klopp, the team is settling down. It is becoming clear that players like Lucas Leiva — who almost left the team at the summer deadline, might I remind you — Jordon Ibe and Roberto Firmino are critical to Klopp’s vision. To make things even better, our “Little Magician” Philippe Coutinho is finding his form again. While the defense is still a little shaky at times, Martin Škrtel is a solid anchor of the backline. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has been phenomenal as well, pulling off one incredible save after another. What is even more remarkable is that captain Jordan Henderson has yet to even play for the new manager due to an ankle injury. In a few short weeks, Klopp has managed to turn a ragtag collection of players into a formidable threat.
This was all clearly on display against Manchester City. From the very first minute of the game, Liverpool was on the offense even though no one was playing in the true striker role. Manchester City seemed sluggish, and before everyone knew what was happening, Liverpool was up 3-0 at the half. I could hardly believe my eyes. My Twitter feed was buzzing with everyone’s incredulity at the score line.
Manchester City was outclassed, plain and simple. While Sergio Agüero did manage to get City on the scoreboard, it was very clear that his team was sorely missing injured defender Vincent Kompany. This was the first time since 2003 that Manchester City let in three goals before halftime at a home game. What made this victory even better was the fact that Raheem Sterling, who forced his way out of Liverpool this summer, was virtually invisible throughout the game. At one point, the travelling Kop fans began taunting him with chants of “Sterling, what’s the score?”
The differences between the two teams were enormous. The entire Manchester City bench looked dejected and apathetic, and coach Manuel Pellegrini seemed to entirely give up on the game at one point. Klopp was his usual lively self, pacing around the technical area and unafraid of yelling at his team for making silly mistakes. One of my favorite parts of this game was when Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana was taken off and Klopp gave him a huge hug. It is very obvious that the relationship between the manager and his players is great. Klopp is the breath of fresh air that a rather boring Liverpool team needed.
This new Liverpool team is bringing back memories of the Reds team that almost won the title a few seasons ago. It has only been a month with Klopp, but he has delivered. Liverpool has pulled off massive wins against Chelsea and now against Manchester City. If the Reds could play like they did against Manchester City in every game, a top-four finish could easily be in sight.
So after an incredible month with the new manager, I speak for many Liverpool fans when I say that Klopp is absolutely living up to the hype. I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us.
Happy Thanksgiving, Hoyas. I know that I am thankful for Klopp this year.
Vanessa Craige is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. The Beautiful Game appears every other Tuesday.