It isn’t often you can look back at losing a Champions League final, yet feel that your team is only at the start of doing something special.
Just to avoid any doubt, it was heart-breaking to lose that final; the journey we had to get there was incredible and reminded all of us what makes Liverpool Football Club so special.
One of the reasons that journey was so special is because, for the biggest and best trophies in football – in recent years Liverpool have taken on the role of the underdog – so it is always an unexpected achievement.
One of the greatest things that is happening at our football club at the moment is that blind faith and hope are now starting to transition into reality.
It is finally starting to feel like the club is getting back to where it belongs. It is time for everyone connected to the club to seize this moment—here are a few reasons why…
Jurgen Klopp has many qualities as a coach and a manager; he is one of the very best in the game. The type of football Klopp plays is on a par with Pep Guardiola, but his journey to the top has probably been a little less fashionable.
Both are innovators—and the brand of football they play is very much the future of the game. It is exciting, passionate, quick and dynamic.
But it isn’t just the coaching credentials of Klopp that make him who he is. Klopp the man is equally as important to Liverpool.
One of the key traits of leadership is to build a vision and take people with you, creating and building a culture in the process.
That is exactly what Klopp is doing at Liverpool; it is a subtle, yet transformational, change.
There are some fantastic people who work at Liverpool, all very passionate about making the club the very best it can be.
But the heartbeat of the football club is the supporters, and there are few who can bring together and influence the traditionalists who connect the club back to its roots, and the progressives who are important to keep driving the club forward.
Klopp thus far has cut through the cultural complexities at the club and found a way to fuse the old and the new; he isn’t just transforming us on the pitch, he is changing our culture as well.
One of the big differences we have seen under Klopp is the connection the ‘club’—or more specifically the players—have to the supporters.
That isn’t just about Klopp, but what he does is enable and encourage his team to build relationships with fans. His recruitment strategy is as much about individual personalities as it is talent.
Players that have an ego or don’t buy into Klopp’s vision and ideas will never be in his sights, no matter how talented.
A Klopp player puts his team, his team-mates and his supporters first.
It is clear to see in this current squad and has created a fantastic bond between players and supporters.
Last season was evidence that the current crop of players at Liverpool is not just a potentially great team, but a great group of lads.
Throughout the season we saw the unity in the squad on the pitch, and we also saw some fantastic things away from it as well.
Two players deserve special mention in particular; the first is Trent Alexander-Arnold who, at 19 years old, is an incredible ambassador for his city, his club and his profession.
His humility and how he conducts himself are a credit to him and he is, without any doubt, a future Liverpool captain.
The other player who really showed his class last season was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Not only did he grow into his role on the pitch, he was faultless and fantastic off it as well.
How he spoke in interviews and represented the club, and his actions away from the pitch, show exactly the kind of character that Klopp looks for.
The great thing about this current squad, which will surely carry through to the new recruits this summer, is that they all seem so humble.
Under Brendan Rodgers, in 2013 when we came so close to winning the league, the team was greater than the sum of its parts—but in reality, without Luis Suarez, the magic didn’t happen.
This team is greater than the sum of its parts.
Firmino, especially, is one of the most selfless footballers you will see. He is a fantastic footballer and makes the entire team function.
There is something about this Liverpool team that connects supporters to the players. They play with such freedom and heart and want to work for each other. And they know what it means to the supporters.
That comes from the manager, but it also comes from the players themselves.
The Transfer Guru
Although it is much easier to be a sporting director when you have Klopp in charge, huge credit has to go to Michael Edwards and his team for the work they have done since he was appointed to his role.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Liverpool’s record and success in the transfer market has transformed under Edwards.
He successfully persuaded FSG that they should follow the original instinct of appointing a sporting director and he has not let them, or the club, down.
His record so far has been incredible. It isn’t just signing a player that is the hard bit; it is signing players for the right price, with the right attributes and the right temperament.
It is also selling players at the right time.
Thus far, Edwards has been masterful in his decisions.
If you just consider the signing of Salah in isolation, it was a truly sensational piece of business. Equally as impressive is Andrew Robertson, who few knew about until he came to Liverpool.
He was arguably the best left-back in the Premier League last season, one of the best in Europe.
Selling Coutinho was a huge gamble at the time in the eyes of most supporters, but now that also looks a great piece of business.
Our summer transfer strategy is still unfolding, but the signs are that Edwards is making the most of the £140m that he negotiated from Barcelona.
Under Edwards it actually looks like there is a strategy at play; we aren’t reacting to the market and we aren’t being held hostage by selling clubs. We are now conducting transfer business on our terms, buying and selling.
Liverpool fans occasionally used to look enviously at Daniel Levy at Spurs for his transfer nous, but that is now in the distant past.
We have our own transfer guru.
Sure, he may get things wrong from time to time, but he has shown enough to evidence he is brilliant at what he does.
FSG have not had an easy ride at Liverpool and at times the owners have created problems for themselves as they have learned ‘on the job’.
But the one thing some have never doubted about them is that they are well-intentioned.
If you look at FSG’s investment in a black and white way there is only one conclusion: they are in this for a profit. They are an investment vehicle, after all.
But FSG actually operate in a grey area; although they are growing an asset, they also want it to succeed and are passionate about winning as well. They’ve shown that with the Red Sox.
FSG have transformed the club from top to bottom since taking over.
The only thing missing is a major trophy—and yes, that is how success at football clubs is judged—but it isn’t the only chapter in the story.
The redevelopment of the Main Stand is a huge factor. The redevelopment of Anfield and the area around it is another. The building of a new training complex at the academy site is yet another.
These are massive infrastructure and CapEx (capital expenditure) projects that will secure the long-term future and sustainability of the club—whatever happens on the pitch.
The club has also transformed its finances; yes it can get tiring at times with new commercial partners being announced on a regular basis, and there is always going to be work to do on ticketing, prices and match-day revenue.
But the club is now a huge commercial machine and is doing an OK job with retaining its links to the community and its Scouse identity.
The CEO, Peter Moore, and the appointment of Tony Barrett as head of Supporter Liaison are exactly what the club needs in its structure.
There are also great people like Susan Black, Head of Comms, in the background doing a great job. The media team have transformed the quality of content the club is producing is outstanding at times, especially video.
None of this is a fluke. Neither is the team we are building on the pitch, led by one of the best coaches in world football at the moment.
FSG have finally got the structure right—and the club is reaping the rewards. Klopp, Edwards and Moore are supported by Mike Gordon and Billy Hogan, who bring FSG’s commercial expertise to the table.
Liverpool Football Club is in a fantastic place right now.
It is up to the supporters, management, players and owners to take this unity and use it to seize this moment—as right now, we have a huge opportunity to get the club back where it belongs.