When Jurgen Klopp took the reins, the ‘crisis’ at Liverpool meant stepping into a third decade without a league title and just one League Cup to show for a dismal decade that cost four managers their jobs.
Nowadays at Anfield, a “crisis” is may be failing to lift the Premier League title for the second year in a row after a six-game winless streak.
It’s strange how a few seasons can distort any sense of perspective in a football club, but hopefully a resounding victory at Tottenham can allay any concerns that a bleak January was symptomatic of something deeper than ‘a simple boost in the form table in the most unusual of seasons.
The questions posed to Liverpool before their trip to London were getting out of hand.
Did Trent Alexander-Arnold forget how to cross a ball? Has Klopp lost the locker room? Have Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane been replaced by sentient androids intending to deliver the title to Manchester? FSG has just given up completely because WHY SO ARE NOT SIGNING A CENTER-BACK!?!
Amid all the noise, Klopp’s implicit message was “calm down, everything will be fine,” and that low-key self-confidence was carried over into a performance by his players that suggested that, if they were in crisis, then it could be short lived.
The determined intensity that we have only seen in flash since the beginning of the year has returned in force immediately. They previously lacked a killer instinct, scoring just three goals in six games since the declaration victory at Crystal Palace, but they were back in their attacking rhythm here.
Their first goal was vintage Liverpool. Henderson to Mane to Firmino on goal, in about five seconds.
There was a noticeable improvement in Firmino’s game, as was that of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who delivered his best performance of the season with his own goal and an assist for Sadio Mane’s clincher.
As a team, the Reds have regained control, with a clearly executed game plan that has blown Jose Mourinho’s poorly evaluated efforts to park the proverbial bus.
TL; DR – it was not the performance of a team in crisis, but of a team constantly recovering from the kind of drop in form that Is it doesn’t matter what the last two seasons have made you believe.
Considering everything that has happened since his appointment, it seems pretty crazy that he ever doubted that Klopp could get a reaction from his players once things started to go wrong.
He did so after heartbreaking defeats in the European final and orchestrated what will be remembered as one of modern sport’s greatest comebacks, but the memories are short: a sustained streak of poor form and, all in all, one blow, he and Liverpool lost it.
A confident and comprehensive victory in north London should serve as a reminder not to get too bogged down in the here and now. In the context of the past two years, the Reds’ current stance could suggest a crisis.
But inject some realism and perspective, and four points from the top of the Premier League.
It’s not all so bad.