Liverpool’s 4-0 victory over Arsenal before the international break was seen by many as a sign that the club had finally taken the mould of Jurgen Klopp’s famous counter-attacking Borussia Dortmund side.
It had convinced many that the Reds were now finally ready to mount a serious Premier League title challenge.
What has followed in the aftermath has been quite the contrast. A 5-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City accompanied by draws in games they dominated against Sevilla and Burnley has led to cries of same old same old for Liverpool.
While all is far from lost at this early stage in the season – the question which much really be asked is this.
Have Liverpool improved under Jurgen Klopp?
The German has now been in his tenure for almost two years, and since arriving in October 2015 and the problems and issues which have surrounded his side seem to be rather repetitive.
There is no denying that the Anfield club are capable of playing scintillating attacking football, but defensively they have been lacklustre and made schoolboy errors for all three of Klopp’s seasons.
Last season will ultimately have been seen as a success given that the Reds returned to the Champions League but given that their manager has refused for quite some time to strengthen the team defensively, one could argue that this contradicts the purpose of qualification as their defence is simply not good enough to compete at Europe’s top level.
Liverpool absolutely dominated the game from start to finish against Sevilla on Wednesday night. They attacked with fluidity, passed with precision, moved forward like flaming arrows – and still, they gave two chances to the opposition by means of defensive errors – and ultimately dropped two points.
Dejan Lovren’s mistake was inexcusable. It is genuinely mind-boggling that a centre-half who gets paid a six-figure sum on a weekly basis can not clear a ball off his weak side or be prepared to blow it into row Z.
Alberto Moreno had his best game in a red shirt and was still poor at best.
Though the Sevilla game spelled a case of déja vù – it was yesterday’s tie with Burnley that truly symbolised the Klopp era. Dominance from start to finish, a switch off, multiple missed chances and points dropped to a side that they are expected to beat.
It has gotten to the point at Liverpool where you would become more confident in them defeating one of their title rivals by four goals than you would in them grabbing three points at home to a side in the bottom half of the table.
The inconsistency is really alarming.
The argument I would make is that Liverpool actually have not improved under the guidance of Klopp. He may be charismatic, entertaining and a real hit with the Kop faithful – but the results are not reaping the rewards.
Two years in the job and he has yet to sign a consistent goalkeeper, a solid centre-half or a proven goalscorer.
Brendan Rodgers guided Liverpool to a second place finish in the Premier League and went on an eleven-game winning run.
There has been signs of Klopp’s side emulating this success but it has never been fulfilled due to an alarming lack of consistency against relatively mediocre clubs.
John W Henry and the Fenway Sports Group have been in charge of Liverpool since 2010 and are still yet to see anything other than League Cup success.
Were the Reds to have a season like last campaign then one must question whether their investment has been worthwhile and if it is time for a changing of the guard at the club.
This team has immense potential but it has not been fulfilled. Good teams win trophies – and Liverpool have won just one in the last five years.
Players like Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Mohammed Salah will not be happy to hang up their boots with an empty medal cabinet at home.
Though it is early days yet in this campaign, there are worrying signs of stagnation and repetitiveness under Klopp.
He has signed the same type of players rather than what he needs to sign, he has praised performances which have been not up to standard, lambasted officials and always directed the blame away from himself.
If Liverpool don’t pick up a trophy and finally hit the ground running in 2018, serious questions will be asked about the direction of the club.
And rightly so, as many supporters are now gathering the belief that this side are simply not improving under Jurgen Klopp as the attackers simply cannot carry the pathetic defenders for much longer.
With every passing game, the spotlight will shine brighter and brighter on how the German copes with the pressure.
It really is a case of different season and same story at Anfield. Klopp’s side will keep us on the edge of our seats with some incredible play but, ultimately, will probably concede just as many.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena