Liverpool Football Club’s journey to Premier League and European success under the guidance of current manager Jurgen Klopp is nothing short of astounding. However, it’s worth remembering that the German took charge of a rudderless ship when he arrived in October 2015, a club that was reeling from a disappointing 2014-15 campaign under Brendan Rodgers.
While Rodgers was lauded for leading Liverpool to the brink of the Premier League title in 2014, a summer of upheaval in the transfer market – losing talismanic striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona among others – derailed their ambitions. Liverpool finished the season in sixth place and made an unceremonious exit from the Champions League.
However, it is a match from that campaign that is particularly pertinent in reflecting on the journey Liverpool has taken since then. As the Reds traipsed off the pitch at the Britannia Stadium on 24 May 2015, having been demolished 6-1 by Stoke City on the final day of the season, there was a sense that the club was at a complete loss as to where to turn next.
The performance was, to put it mildly, shambolic. Liverpool went behind to a Jonathan Walters penalty, before conceding a further four first-half goals to Mame Biram Diouf, Charlie Adam (twice) and Steven N’Zonzi. They did conjure a brief moment of joy in the second half, Rickie Lambert scoring a late consolation, but it did little to mask the humiliation.
For many Liverpool fans, that defeat was their lowest ebb. A team that had come so close to being champions a year earlier had now suffered one of their most chastening defeats, leaving them in seventh place in the league. There were questions about the quality of the players, about the leadership of the manager, about the very direction of the club.
Fast forward to today, and it seems almost inconceivable now that Liverpool could have sunk so low. But Klopp arrived with a vision, passion and charisma that had eluded Rodgers in his final months at the club. He brought in players that perfectly suited his philosophy, such as Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, and Naby Keita, and instilled a belief among his squad that they could achieve greatness.
That defeat by Stoke City now seems like a distant memory. Liverpool‘s transformation under Klopp has been nothing short of remarkable. They have won the Champions League, the Premier League, and the Club World Cup in the last two seasons, and are now among the most feared teams in Europe. All this, in just five years since that day at the Britannia Stadium.
The lesson here is that even the darkest moments can be the catalyst for better things. Liverpool needed that humbling defeat to Stoke to realize that they needed a new direction. Some fans might have been doubting whether Klopp was the right Man for the job before his arrival, but his transformative impact on the club has been immense. The 6-1 defeat to Stoke City on that day may have been painful, but it ultimately led to the glorious period of success that Liverpool is experiencing today.