Loris Karius is the only player that Jurgen Klopp has not improved at Liverpool, says Mark Lawrenson, with a Premier League title-winning coach considered to have been “Shankly-esque in everything that he’s done”.
The German tactician was appointed by those at Anfield in October 2015 in the hope that he could follow in the footsteps of some legendary bosses that went before him.
The shadow of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley continued to loom large on Merseyside, with Liverpool edging their way towards three decades without an English top-flight crown.
That barren run has been ended at the 30-year mark, with Klopp delivering on his initial remit.
He has also savoured Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup triumphs, with a star-studded squad assembled through clever recruitment.
Liverpool have seen big-money additions thrive, but those already on their books – such as captain Jordan Henderson – have also raised their games.
Lawrenson considers that to be the mark of a top manager, with German goalkeeper Karius – who endured a nightmare showing in the 2018 Champions League final before being sent out on loan – the only blot on Klopp’s copybook.
“It doesn’t feel like 30 years, and if 30 years ago when they won it you would have said to the football club that you’re not going to win that again for 30 years, the men in white coats would have come and taken you away. It’s fantastic,” Liverpool legend Lawrenson, who won five league titles in his playing days, told BBC Sport.
“When Jurgen Klopp came to the club, you felt this sea change. Within months you knew this was something completely different.
“I hate that thing when a player comes through and he’s small and he’s Argentinean and you say ‘he’s the next Lionel Messi’. He’s not, he’s just him.
“Klopp came and everyone went ‘he’s next the Shankly’. You know what, he’s been Shankly-esque in everything that he’s done.
“He gets the history of the club, he gets the supporters. Of all the players that he’s bought, I can’t remember him buying one that’s not made it.
“And all the players that he’s got, he’s made them better. Karius is the only one, but he’s made all of the rest better.
“Wherever you’re manager, if you make all of the players better – and they are already very, very good – you’re doing a heck of a job.
“And the way that they are playing as well. When he got here I said Liverpool would be everyone’s favourite second club and I got slaughtered, but I think they are because of the way they play.”
Klopp has been quick to play down the impact he has made on Merseyside, with there no desire on his part to see a statue erected in his honour, and Liverpool are being urged by those calling the shots to turn their attention towards the next challenge, which is to maintain their current standards and become serial winners of the biggest prizes on offer.