Liverpool claimed a consecutive Premier League victory on Wednesday night, as the Reds won 1-0 at beleaguered Sunderland.
However the game had me scratching my head wondering what to make of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp.
I am a big Klopite (not to be confused with Kopite, which I am definitely not).
For me he is an innovative and shrewd boss. His early days at Liverpool have proven that no manager has a magic wand though.
How do you solve a problem like Benteke?
One of Liverpool’s and Klopp’s biggest problems is striker Christian Benteke. It is a strange thing to say about the striker who cost the club £32.5million in the summer. He should be one of the shining lights in the Reds team.
The Belgian international has now scored the winner in Liverpool’s last two top-flight games, but he is yet to convince the Reds boss or fans that he is the right man to lead the Liverpool line.
Don’t get me wrong Benteke is a top striker, who will score you goals in the Premier League. The problem is you have to play to his strengths. Unfortunately his strengths do not seem to fit into Klopp’s football philosophy.
The German boss has recently talked about Benteke and the need for the Belgian to adapt his game to suit the team. He also talked about Benteke working harder for the team and that is what Klopp needs to make Liverpool successful, team players.
He needs a striker who will play for the team, as well as score goals. Benteke is a big, strong target man, but he is not considered a team player.
Klopp does not have that many forward options. He has Divock Origi, who has showed potential in the past, but is still very raw and also the perennially injured Daniel Sturridge, who seems to have a season ticket to the physio’s room.
Needs different players
Klopp will need time to get things right at Anfield and he will need a few transfer windows to be able to buy the players that fit into his philosophy. To use a poker analogy, he is very much playing with Brendan Rodgers hand at the moment.
Liverpool does have an expensively assembled squad of players. That squad was not assembled by Klopp though. The players in the Liverpool team are not terrible, but they are not world-class either. Arguably the only world-class player the Reds have had in recent years was controversial Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez.
Klopp does not need world-class players to create a successful team, he’s proven that at Dortmund, but he does need the right players and the jury is still very much out on the current group of Reds stars.
Still in the hunt
Liverpool at the moment seems to take two steps forward and one step back. Despite that questionable progress the Reds are quite near where they want to be in the Premier League table.
They may be seventh in the top-flight table, but they are just five points behind fourth place Tottenham. The Reds aim when Klopp was appointed was to finish in the Champions League spots, which they are now odds of 6/4 to do.
It would be an achievement for Liverpool to finish in the top four this season, considering the fact that Klopp inherited a Reds squad of players that was not exactly brimming with confidence or real quality.
It will be hard to judge whether Liverpool have made any real progress under Klopp until the German has been able to sign some of his own players. Until then a Champions League spot this season is still achievable this season.
There is no doubting Klopp’s pedigree as a boss and given time he will produce a successful team at Anfield. I do get the feeling though that until he gets the right players the Reds are going to produce a lot more inconsistent performances.
Can Liverpool move forward with the current squad of players?