How Jurgen Klopp pulled off ‘the impossible’ and saved Liverpool’s season
It’s worth reminding us of what Liverpool’s desperate hope of qualifying for the Champions League looked like when they were beaten 1-0 at home to Fulham on March 7. looking back. They had lost six straight home league games, their longest run of all time, and the first team to do so in the Premier League since Huddersfield Town in 2019. A winless run from Anfield had stretched to eight games. – the last time a Liverpool team was. fallible at home, they had finished low in the First Division (in 1954). More worryingly, there was no obvious solution as if the main goal was the missing Liverpool defenders, they had stopped scoring. Excluding penalties and home goals, Liverpool had failed to do so with each of their last 115 shots at Anfield in the Premier League. Liverpool were ten points behind Leicester City but the discussion was no longer on how to catch them. In an interview with German newspaper Bild, Klopp seemed resigned to the fate of his club. “I like to be optimistic, but in the league it’s almost impossible to qualify,” he said. Behind the scenes, club officials prepared for uncharted territory. Never mind missing the Champions League and a minimum of £ 50million in this European windfall, an even worse scenario awaited us. “It will be an absolute nightmare if we find ourselves in the bloody UEFA conference league,” said an Anfield official. It’s no wonder that some higher up the chain of command are trying to start their own European tournament with mega-millions guaranteed. Yet as the gloom subsided, the roots of recovery were already in place. Why Fabinho was key to Liverpool’s rebirth On the day Liverpool lost to Fulham, midfielder Fabinho was a 76th-minute substitute. The cameo was a tentative but critical step in his and Liverpool’s recovery. Although it was barely mentioned at the time, Klopp’s team looked better in those 14 minutes than in the previous eight weeks – think of it like Lazarus’ first muscle spasm. The Brazilian’s injury a month earlier had added to Liverpool’s defensive vulnerabilities because he had spent the first half of the season as an emergency center-back – one of 19 pairs of center-backs before Easter – Klopp calculating he had a lot of midfielders. to cover his resettlement. Fulham’s loss can be seen as the Liverpool manager’s ‘enough is enough’ moment, as he decided there was more to be gained with his number six in his favorite role. Three days after Fulham, Fabinho ran the game in the Champions League round of 16 second leg against RB Leipzig, and stayed there for eight of the last ten Premier League games, starting with a win at the outside the Wolves. Liverpool have only won two of the remaining ten games. It was no coincidence that when points were lost at home to Newcastle and away to Leeds United, Fabinho was forced to return to defense due to an injury to Nat Phillips. Based on the evidence from Liverpool’s grand final, Phillips would likely have challenged Diego Llorrente to prevent Leeds’ 87th minute equalizer and hoisted himself over Dwight Gayle to prevent him from launching Joe’s strike Willock for Newcastle. Phillips has emerged as an unlikely heroic figure – first alongside Ozan Kabak, then young Rhys Williams. But stability came from the man right in front of the inexperienced duo chosen. Fabinho has proven to be Liverpool’s most influential player – keeper and hub. Beyond Anfield, there are suspicions people still don’t realize how good the South American is. When he plays in midfield everyone around him looks better and Liverpool behave like champions.