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Liverpool close to winning formula

Thursday 26th January 2017
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side was  sunk by a high-sailing Saints' team intent on clinching their first piece of silverware since promotion to the Premier League. Shane Long's 90th-minute goal was enough to send Southampton through and crush dreams of a first trophy for Liverpool under Klopp.

Bizarrely, the reaction on social media was outrage. Several tweets lamented Klopp's managerial tactics, and a few, even if it was a minority, called for his departure. Twitter was awash with criticism and anger - rightly so, but few recognised the improvements the German has brought to Anfield and failed to hold the long-term future of the club in sight.

Granted, Liverpool has endured a miserable January, winning just once, against Plymouth - with draws against Manchester United, Sunderland and Plymouth and a shock defeat to Swansea. Indeed, Liverpool was similarly poor last January, winning just 3 of their 9 matches: two of which came against Exeter and the tumultuous 5-4 against Norwich City.

This hints at an inadequacy in preparation for the heavy winter schedule; training should be a little more relaxed and not mirror the intensity of earlier sessions.

However, Liverpool fans should not sulk for the next month, but instead, choose optimism over pessimism. Jurgen Klopp has revitalised a club that had begun to flirt with irrelevance - a short-lived title challenge and a penalty-shoot out League Cup win against an unlucky Cardiff City, under Brendan Rodgers, was all to show for 10 years of investment. Now, the Reds are in the leading pack of the Premier League, fighting for a Champions League spot; although the league appears out of their reach, there's no telling what can happen between now and the end of the season.

There's a renewed passion at the club - not that one could ever criticise the fervent love of the club - but it seems to have more substance. No longer are these the cries of weary Liverpool fans half-believing 'it will be their year', as social media mocks, but they are the determined shouts of a fan-base who tastes the incipient metallic flavour of silverware.
This weekend's fixture against Wolves in the F.A. Cup has taken on a greater importance; it remains the only viable option of actually experiencing the euphoria of silverware. Klopp must revitalise his jaded team, even against Championship opposition.

Liverpool, quite clearly, have played some of their best football for a long time under Klopp. Yet, it is this element of consistency that hampers title credentials and infuriates fans. But, building a club back from relative mediocrity (in Liverpool terms) is not an easy task - Klopp appears to be tantalising close to a winning formula.

Liverpool are three or four quality signings away from mounting a serious title challenge. They cannot rely on the pace and trickery of Sadio Mane and the ingenuity of Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho. They must go out and buy but buy sagely.

Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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