I went round a friend’s house early on in the season. He’s a Liverpool fan.
Well, ‘fan’ is a bit of an understatement – he’s obsessed.
I sat with him and watched as Liverpool utterly dominated the champions Leicester, scoring four goals whilst playing some scintillating football.
They may have looked slightly dodgy defensively, but going forward they were incredibly effective, with Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana particularly impressive.
On that day, I was sure that Liverpool would be there or thereabouts this season.
No more false dawns, no more ‘nearly, but not quite’. I thought they’d fight with Chelsea every step of the way.
It looks like I was wrong.
— The 48 (@Je_suis_Gemeaux) January 28, 2017
Fast forward to the closing days of January, and Liverpool are 10 points off top spot and clinging to their spot in the Champions League places, out of the League Cup, and out of the FA Cup.
And it’s all happened so quickly.
At Christmas, they were still ‘there or thereabouts’.
But now, they look destined to play out the season with only Champions League football to play for.
To start the new year, they drew with Sunderland and Man United before going down at home to Swansea, then were dumped out of the League Cup by Southampton and FA Cup by Wolverhampton in the space of four days.
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) January 28, 2017
If this was any other season, with any other manager, no surprise would be elicited.
After all, Liverpool have been underachieving for nearly 30 years now.
But it’s not just any other season. It’s not just any other manager.
Not only is Jurgen Klopp in charge – widely regarded as one of the globe’s best managers – but the Reds are also fortunate enough to have no distractions as far as European football is concerned.
Everything is set up for them to really make a statement this season.
But they’re not making a statement. They’re shrinking back into the shadows.
Had Brendan Rodgers presided over this cataclysmic collapse that has taken place over the last few weeks, the Northern Irishman would be out of a job; simple as that.
But because it’s Jurgen Klopp, and he’s a ‘character’ and he can get teams playing exciting football, there’s not the same furore.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) January 29, 2017
But how far does it need to go before Liverpool start to reconsider whether Klopp is the right man to take them back to the top?
They’re already out of both knockout comps, and – realistically – the title race, too. Will it take another season outside of the top four for Liverpool’s owners to question Klopp?
Say what you like about Rafa Benitez, but the Spaniard managed to secure regular Champions League football for Liverpool.
Maybe not every season. But most.
If Klopp can’t do at least that, then surely questions need to be asked?