Klopp's best | 

This Liverpool squad is better than their title winning side – but that might not be enough

Squad of 20 top quality players must be on song to edge Haaland-bolstered Man City
File photo dated 21-07-2022 of Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp with Darwin Nunez. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits the best way Darwin Nunez can dispel scrutiny about his price tag is by scoring goals. Issue date: Friday July 22, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read Hendrik Schmidt via DPA/PA Wire.

File photo dated 21-07-2022 of Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp with Darwin Nunez. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits the best way Darwin Nunez can dispel scrutiny about his price tag is by scoring goals. Issue date: Friday July 22, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read Hendrik Schmidt via DPA/PA Wire.© PA

Jurgen Klopp will be itching to get stuck in to the new season with a sure eye on lifting the title again

Jurgen Klopp will be itching to get stuck in to the new season with a sure eye on lifting the title again© Getty Images

Mo Salah is mobbed by his Reds colleagues

Mo Salah is mobbed by his Reds colleagues© !????F????/???  `?

John AldridgeSunday World

When you look at the Liverpool squad Jurgen Klopp will work with next season, it is even stronger than the group that ended the 30-year wait for a league title a couple of years back.

Only 12 players started more than 20 league games in that title-winning campaign, which was unusual in the modern game.

Squad rotation and resting players is now a big part of a manager’s plan these days, with sports scientists at each club examining every element of a player’s performance and assessing when he needs a break.

Personally, I’d have hated the idea of sitting out a game because some guy on a computer told me I was too tired, but that’s the way the game has gone in recent years.

So to compete right through to the end in the four big competitions, as Liverpool did last season, Klopp needs plenty of players at his disposal and he has that now.

Look at the 2019/20 title winning squad and it relied on the key players staying fit to remain competitive, with the following season showing what could happen as injuries ripped through the defence and results collapsed.

That season highlighted how vulnerable Liverpool were when Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip were out and the attacking side of the team lost their confidence.

We often say a great team doesn’t become a bad team overnight, but Liverpool showed what can happen if you don’t plan for setbacks and they have done something about it.

What Klopp has now is a squad of 20 top class players, with a fine back-up keeper in Caoimhín Kelleher and good options to replace defenders if they are ruled out.

The midfield has been boosted by the world class talents of Thiago Alcantara, who could be crucial in the new season if he can steer clear of injuries.

Add Luis Diaz and this summer’s arrivals Darwin Nunez and Fabio Carvalho and you have a squad with so many exciting options. Sadio Mane’s exit was a blow, but Mo Salah has signed his new contract and the Liverpool manager will have so many selection issues each week so long as injuries don’t disrupt his plans.

Klopp has high hopes midfielder Harvey Elliott can shine now that he is back from injury this season and there is a fantastic blend of proven and experienced performers fused with gifted young players.

Curtis Jones is another young player with real class in his boots and when I look at Liverpool’s second choice team on paper, it’s pretty clear that they would do very well in the Premier League.

Once again, Liverpool have built this group of players while balancing the books financially this summer and we won’t have to wait long to find out whether my big talk for this squad is justified.

It’s clear that Manchester United fans take pre-season friendlies seriously these days given they way they reacted to a 4-0 win against Liverpool’s third team earlier this month.

Yet warm-up games are all about new players bedding in and for new signing Nunez, Thursday night’s game against RB Leipzig was massively important.

When you join a massive club like Liverpool, there is pressure to prove you are good enough and if Nunez had gone through pre-season without scoring a goal, he would have been under pressure heading into the first game against Fulham.

Scoring four goals against a good Leipzig side ensured that problem was removed and the weight will lift off his shoulder as a result.

He will now feel like a Liverpool player and if he can match the goals Mane provided or maybe score a few more, his massive transfer fee will be worth every penny.

Salah will score lots of goals again and I’d be hopeful of Diaz chipping in with his fair share this season, maybe even as many as 15.

Then you look at young Carvalho and he looks like he has some goals in him, with Bobby Firmino still an option and Diogo Jota a striker who offers something different.

Amid all this Liverpool optimism, the reality must be that they are still second favourites to win the Premier League.

Manchester City will get around 95 points once again this season and that means Liverpool will need to be virtually flawless to finish ahead of them.

In an other era of the Premier League – include the great Manchester United and Chelsea teams in this – Klopp’s class of 2022 would be title favourites.

United only hit the 90-point mark twice during Alex Ferguson’s reign as manager and Chelsea managed it once during Jose Mourinho’s two spells as their manager.

So these are not normal standards being set by Liverpool and Manchester City and the Premier League should be very grateful to Klopp that he is ensuring we have a title race to enjoy because only one team are capable of standing up to City.

It’s unfortunate for Liverpool that they are up against opponents that have unlimited financial resources and a very good manager who has made the most of the riches at his disposal.

I’d expect City to improve with Erling Haaland leading their line and it means Liverpool need to raise their bar from the very high level they operated at last season.

Starting a season in the knowledge that you might need 100 points to win the title is tough when there are only 114 points available from 38 matches.

Yet that is the standard you need to reach to win the Premier League title and the squad Klopp has assembled at Liverpool might just be good enough to get close to that in the new season.


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