Rebuilding the Liverpool Team - Can Klopp Learn From Shankly?
Parallels Between Shankly's early '70s Rebuild and the Challenge Facing Klopp Now
Liverpool have just completed a season which most observers would agree has left Klopp needing a substantial reset, especially in midfield but maybe also defensively. As well as midfield reinforcements, some feel we also need another centre-back, an Ndicka, Timber or Van de Wen, a right-back like Pavard (or the aforementioned Timber) to allow Trent a one-way ticket forward. And if both Kelleher and Adrian were to depart, a back-up keeper too.
And there are some remaining current squad members who give cause for concern. Matip, Fabinho, Thiago and Henderson in terms of melting - or is it indeed past tense? - and Elliott, Carvalho and even Nunez in terms of fit, or at least how best to utilise them.
It has been suggested in some quarters - though not this one - that Klopp has been slow to spot the need for a rebuild, or at least too loyal to his old guard (although Wijnaldum, Mane, Firmino and Milner of the vintage collection are no longer present), and that this may be a contributory factor in Liverpool’s sudden and unexpected decline during 2022/23.
As so often, there is precedent, if not direct parallel, in history. Ageing stars who were part of a magical period of success, arguably allied to the manager’s loyalty to them, was once cited as a reason for decline and the need for major rebuild. Just like now.
If a whole season can prove to be an epiphany, one single match did the same for the Klopp’s most similar predecessor in the Anfield hot seat - the legendary, talismanic, messianic, iconic Bill Shankly. An embarrassing defeat finally persuaded Shankly and his Boot Room team of the need for drastic action, though that defeat was the cathartic culmination of a lengthy process of gradual decline rather than an end - literally - in itself.
That match took place on Sat 21st Feb 1970. Liverpool were humbled 0-1 by Second Division Watford in the quarter-final of the FA Cup at Vicarage Road.
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