After a series of near-misses, there’s a danger Jurgen Klopp may actually win a trophy this season.
As champions Manchester City falter, undefeated Liverpool find themselves six points clear at the top of the Premier League table at the halfway mark and look in menacing form.
Tangible success would mark the completion of a long journey for Klopp, who breezed into Anfield in October 2015 as the self-appointed “Normal One”. To his credit, he’s lived up to that tag, as his trophy-less achievements at Liverpool thus far prove.
The German last lifted silverware in August 2014, when his Dortmund team defeated Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich 2-0 in the German Super Cup. Plenty has happened in those intervening years, so let’s start with his opponent on that day…
1. Pep Guardiola won the Bundesliga twice, left Bayern Munich, joined Man City and won two more trophies
Pep’s champions realistically remain the biggest obstacle to Liverpool winning their first league title since 1990, and the Spaniard has been busy winning plenty of silverware while Klopp has been building.
Since losing that Super Cup, Guardiola has (take a deep breath): won the Bundesliga twice, won the German Cup, left Bayern Munich, joined Manchester City, had a season adapting his squad, won the League Cup, won the Premier League with a record points haul, and won both the Premier League Manager of the Season and LMA Manager of the Year awards.
And he’ll probably find a way to win this year’s Premier League still.
2. Louis van Gaal won a trophy at Man United and was sacked
The Dutchman was a few months into what would be his final season in the Old Trafford hotseat when Klopp arrived. As that campaign went on, Van Gaal’s team beat their rivals 1-0 at Anfield in the Premier League before going on to win the FA Cup. His reign ended almost immediately after.
3. Luis Enrique won the treble at Barcelona and resigned
The Spaniard had returned to his former club as manager in summer 2014 and went on to win the league, cup, and Champions League treble in his debut campaign. In comparison, during Klopp’s first season at Liverpool, they did a lap of honour for drawing against West Brom at home.
Enrique went on to win five more major trophies at the Nou Camp before quitting in 2017. Later took up the Spanish job.
4. Zinedine Zidane joined Real Madrid, won the Champions League three times
Zidane only took the reigns at Real in January 2016 but his impact was felt immediately, as he guided them to Champions League glory in his first few months in charge. His first full campaign went even better, winning the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, La Liga and retaining the Champions League.
The Frenchman then won Europe’s elite competition a record third successive time in 2018, against Liverpool no less, leaving Klopp empty handed once again. Zidane then called it a day at the Bernabéu.
5. Claudio Ranieri joined Leicester, won the PL, left, then returned with Fulham
Ranieri was viewed as an uninspiring appointment at the King Power Stadium just a few months before Klopp arrived in England, but how wrong that turned out to be.
In one of sport’s greatest ever shock stories, little old Leicester won the Premier League title against all the odds. And they did it by finishing a whopping 21 points ahead of Klopp’s Liverpool, who finished the season in 8th place, missing out on European qualification altogether.
After being sacked in February 2017, Ranieri managed Nantes for a season before returning to the Premier League with Fulham in November 2018.
6. Antonio Conte joined Chelsea, won the Premier League and FA Cup, and left
This entrant through Chelsea’s revolving managerial door took his place in the Stamford Bridge dugout in summer 2016, just as Klopp was about to embark on his first full season in England.
While the latter just about scraped into the top four, Conte’s Chelsea cruised to the title with 30 league wins in his first season. That was followed up by FA Cup glory in 2018, before he got the boot after his side struggled in their title defence.
7. Arsene Wenger won the FA Cup twice and left Arsenal
Arsene Wenger’s struggles in his latter years at Arsenal have been very well documented, and it was under his watch that they narrowly missed out on their precious fourth-placed league finish to Liverpool in 2017.
However, the game is about trophies and Wenger still knew how to win them. Since Klopp last tasted glory, Wenger lifted the FA Cup twice as well as finally brought the curtain down on his 22 years in North London.
8. Jose Mourinho arrived at Manchester United, won three trophies and left
Mourinho finally got the job he craved so much (and cried about when he previously missed out) in 2016 and got off to a successful start, winning the Community Shield. He added to that start with success in the League Cup and Europa League, regaining United a place in the Champions League. A troubled, barren 18 months followed before he was dismissed.
Meanwhile, Klopp has kept himself busy by hugging his players, joking around in press conferences and wearing runners-up medals. Will he even remember how to lift a trophy if Liverpool go all the way this season?