Jurgen Klopp legacy already undermined - Liverpool doubters know what they are doing

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool celebrate with trophy after winning the Carabao Cup Final  after the match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on February 25, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Nigel French/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp hasn't even had his emotional farewell and already the revisionism of his Liverpool tenure is under way.

And the most immediate hot take is that, rather than being lauded for his achievements at Anfield, the Reds boss is attracting criticism for what is regarded in some quarters as a period of underachievement.

That Klopp won as many Premier League titles as Claudio Ranieri, the same number of Champions League triumphs as Roberto Di Matteo and Thomas Tuchel along with matching the FA Cup final victories of Roberto Martinez is being seen as justification for the viewpoint.

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Such numbers are statement of fact although, of course, there is the significant caveat that taking Klopp's trophies in isolation removes necessary context from the argument. How many times, for example, did Di Matteo or Tuchel win the Premier League?

In terms of Liverpool, Klopp's legacy is assured. Ending a 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England would have been sufficient, but that he helmed the club's sixth European Cup, a first-ever Club World Cup while also snaffling one FA Cup, two League Cups and a UEFA Super Cup - we'll throw in the Community Shield for the completionists - underlines his undoubted impact at Anfield.

Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley are the undeniable standard bearers in the pantheon of Liverpool managerial greats but Klopp's reign means he is pushing Kenny Dalglish for a place on the podium. The German has always been about more than just results, even if everything he has built and moulded at initially Melwood and later the AXA Training Centre has been laser-focused on ensuring success on the pitch. Winning is ultimately all that counts.

However, those seeking to belittle his Anfield career should not forget the unique landscape in which he ensured Liverpool are once again one of the most pre-eminent forces in English football. And that can basically be summed up in two words - Manchester City.

The unique financial advantages enjoyed by the Etihad side during the past decade have allowed them to build a machine the likes of which simply haven't been seen before in the country. Their dominance is much, much different in scope compared to the glory days of Liverpool in the 1970s and 1980s and Manchester United in the 1990s and 2000s.

Whether it has been entirely legal is still to be determined with City having been charged with 115 breaches of Premier League regulations, the majority of which refer to financial matters. Klopp, of course, will be long gone by the time that outcome eventually emerges. In the meantime, all he could do was concentrate on his own team and give City a run for their money. And, in any other era, Liverpool would have had more than one Premier League title to show for their efforts.

Consider this. In eight full seasons in charge, Klopp was involved in four title challenges, two of which saw them push City to the final day only to lose out by a point despite tallying 97 in 2018/19 and 92 two years ago.

Since the switch to three points for a win in 1981, the former total would have been enough to win the league in every other season bar when City garnered 100 points in 2017/18 and, of course, 2019/20 when Liverpool's title success saw them rack up 99 points. And the only other campaigns in which the title winners earned more than 92 points were Chelsea in 2004/05 and 2016/17.

Leicester City's title triumph under Ranieri remains THE great Premier League story, but it's worth remembering Arsenal only accrued 71 points in finishing second. That, though, isn't the lowest second-placed tally, with Newcastle United gaining just 68 in 1996/97, when Liverpool earned the same total but infamously finished fourth in a two-horse race. This season, Arsenal could earn 89 points and still finish runners-up.

It isn't just about the Premier League, though. The naysayers will point to Liverpool losing in the League Cup and Europa League finals in Klopp's first season, and later twice being beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League final. But all bar the latter were final appearances beyond expectations, while circumstances often conspired against the Reds - Mohamed Salah's shoulder injury and the meltdown of Loris Karius against Real in 2018, the off-field scenes that soured efforts to defeat the same opposition in 2022. Klopp couldn't do much about that.

Could Liverpool have won more trophies under the German? Of course. Should they have won more? That's a different question. And the reality is, until the recent revival of Arsenal, Klopp's Liverpool were for several years the only team capable of stopping City completely obliterating the Premier League.

Those in the away end at Villa Park on Monday know exactly what Klopp has done at Liverpool. And to suggest otherwise is just being different for the sake of it. Enough.