Facts! - by John Brennan
Rafa liked his facts, did he not? So, without further ado, let’s break down Klopp’s reign into facts. He’s been here for just about two calendar years now. No snarkiness; no snide remarks about, “That’s football!”: it’s nearly Christmas so benevolence is de rigueur.
Let’s take his first season in charge. None of these guys were his, except, perhaps, Firmino. He came in eight games into the season and over the course of the rest of the year, for 30 games, we won 13, drew 9 and lost 8. That’s a total of 48 points in 30 games (1.6 points a game), which, projected over a season, gets you to 61 points. I’ve even rounded up, to show I come in good faith!
In his second season, with some of his men (Mané, Wijnaldum, Matip), we moved on to 76 points, an average of 2 a game. So, from his first 30 games in charge to his first full season in charge, we gained 0.4 points a game, which equates to a gain of more than 15 points over a season. That’s progress!
He’s now been in charge for 74 League games. How about a rolling average divided up in three parts?
Games 1-25? 12W 6D 7L = 42 points
Games 26-50? 14W 8D 3L = 50 points
Games 51-74? 12W 7D 5L = 43 points (admittedly with a game less played).
So pretty even over his time in charge, with a strong second third and a slight dip over the last 24 games. But we’re pretty consistent. Maybe this is our level?
Progress can’t be judged just based on points, of course. Last year, we finished fourth (up from eighth the previous season) and qualified for the European Cup. We scored 78 in 38 (over two a game), up from a poor enough 55 in 30 games in his first season. And progress needn’t just be mathematic; even though we are heart-wrenching (literally!) at times, when we click, we’re fantastic to watch and it can be great fun.
The flipside to all of the above and the source of such rancour at the moment is, of course, our “defence”. The quotation marks, with all due respect to some readers, are necessary. In those 74 League games under Klopp, we have conceded 93 goals. That’s an average of 1.25 goals a game, which equates to 47 over the course of a season.
The number of goals conceded a season by the last 10 Champions: 33, 36, 32, 37, 43, 29, 37, 32, 24 (we conceded 27 that season and finished second to United), 22. That’s an average of 31.5 goals conceded for the last ten Champions. We are way off that target.
Even if we take last year’s figures, his only full season in charge, we conceded 42. Only once has a team conceded more and won the Title. That was United and they scored 86 and finished up with 89 points.
Given the amount of goals we let in, we’re going to need to score a hundred to mount a realistic Title challenge. We are effectively asking our front men to go out and score three a game. A big ask.
To finish on a positive note, in Klopp’s first 38 games in charge we conceded 50 goals. In his last 37, we’ve conceded 43. Statistically, things are improving. Tighten up at the back and we could win this thing, at last. That’s a fact.