It was the 6-1 rout of Southampton, their seventh win from eight games, that appeared to confirm that Liverpool had made a dream managerial appointment in Jurgen Klopp.
Yet little more than six weeks later Klopp’s reign has taken on a different complexion, with just three wins from 11 fixtures since then and a tricky FA Cup replay with fourth-tier Exeter City on Wednesday night.
The downward spiral began in the game that followed Southampton, a 2-0 loss at Newcastle that few saw coming. Liverpool dominated but lacked cutting edge – often a sign that a team is fatigued.
Klopp’s trademark is a high-intensity playing style that in turn requires a high-intensity training regime, and I think Liverpool have run out of gas. Just as their players have appeared to become stretched fitness-wise, so too has their squad been stretched in terms of numbers, as players have suffered injuries.
To be clear: I think Klopp is certainly the right man for the job; his excellent sequence of results after taking charge in October prove that the German knows how to create a winning team.
But perhaps he is guilty of being naive and making bad decisions. Days after Newcastle, Liverpool went to Sion in the Europa League and fielded an almost full-strength side for a game they didn’t need to win.
Less than 72 hours later, seven of that starting XI were held at home by West Brom and the next week they were comprehensively beaten by top-flight newcomers Watford.
Games have since come thick and fast, and the only wins Klopp has had were ground out 1-0. It’s hard not to feel he should have rested players when he had the chance.
Liverpool have slipped to ninth in the table and don’t look anywhere near making the top four. Top six and re-entry to the Europa League is realistic, but I suspect they’ll need to go on another great run.
Klopp has three hopes: rest players more often where possible; get his injured stars fit again; and buying reinforcements in the current window. Without these, it’s hard to see them improving soon.