Leicester's fall from grace shows Liverpool are right not to look for shortcuts

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The Foxes, as defending champions, have a status Liverpool crave, but Jurgen Klopp is building a framework for more than a one-season wonder


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From the 5000-1 miracle to 2-5 odds of Nigel Pearson returning: Leicester have gone from fairytale to what the f**k? in nine maddening months. 

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It took just 16 days for the club to revoke their “unwavering support” of Claudio Ranieri, the Italian sacked after scaling the sort of magnitude that would inevitably lead to an almighty fall. 

HD Leicester title parade

After 25 fixtures last season, Leicester were perched at the Premier League summit with 53 points. They had only suffered defeat twice in the division and had a goal difference of 20. It was all pizzas, warriors and dilly ding, dilly dong. 

The Foxes are now the first reigning champions since 1956 to lose five successive top-flight matches and they have yet to score a league goal in 2017. Leicester - currently led by assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and first-team coach Mike Stowell - will host Liverpool on Monday night now sat in the bottom three following the weekend's results.

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2015-16 was the anomaly; a freakish, everything-is-falling-into-place accident. It was deserved but not planned for, and as Ranieri himself had admitted, it could certainly not be repeated. 

While their title triumph was remarkable, romantic and a big middle finger to the monied clubs, it was also a colossal cliff to fall off given the absence of design. "When I came here, the project was to build a foundation and to fight for the Europa League in three to four years,” Ranieri explained when it was still all rainbows and butterflies in May last year.

“This season is out of our project, but of course now our foundations are very strong.”

Claudio Ranieri Cartoon

Except, they weren’t. Steve Walsh, responsible for helping discover the likes of N’Golo Kante, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, joined Everton as director of football. 

Chelsea signed the influential French midfield machine, while without a culture of excellence, the remaining stars seemed to bathe in their success instead of showing the resolve to build on it.

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Ranieri had already highlighted this issue in August. “I did not see the same mentality together. Forget what we achieved. I want more than the maximum.” The 65-year-old had also been annoyed by Leicester’s failure to bring in a top centre-back, with their recruitment largely abysmal. 

There have been several Liverpool-supporting voices suggesting they’d snatch at the chance to experience the same celebration, then deflation and battle with relegation as the Foxes. That is much easier to tweet or say than to actually stomach. Understandably, there is a desperate, aching desire for the Reds to be referred to as the reigning Premier League champions. 

The fact that Leicester did the unthinkable last season only served to quicken the impatience and deepen the appetite: if they could win it, why couldn’t Liverpool? 

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool backroom team

Jurgen Klopp, though, as he did at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, is creating a framework for the club to not only be able to achieve their ambitions in the short-term, but to expand and advance them too. 

Under the German, Liverpool have a recognisable, authoritative identity, they’ve strengthened the backroom staff, solidified and unified their recruitment strategy, ensured a smoother pathway between the Academy and the first team as well as pushed for the redevelopment of Kirkby for both to be on one site, created an environment their premier assets feel they can thrive in and have fostered an ‘everyone is responsible for everything’ ethos. 

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As Klopp explained to Goal in an exclusive: “When you sit in the main chair like I sit, you have a lot of power, but even more than that, you have all the responsibility.

“And responsibility for me means it never ends, even when you leave. You need to create something where you can really be measured by even after you’ve gone. 

“In football, it’s always about pressure and the next game, next game, next game. Somebody has to say ‘stop!’ 

“The next game will always come, but you need someone who thinks ‘what happens after the games?’ 

Liverpool celebrate v Watford 6-1

“It needs to be the manager, the man in the chair. 

“You are so busy planning for the next game, but you also have to take the minutes to think and talk about changing the structure to make it more effective. 

“Build this, improve that. I’m interested in everything, in the whole club and when I leave at some point, I don’t want people to celebrate me still, I only want that they can still feel the benefit of me being manager here.”

Two finals have already been reached during the 49-year-old’s time in charge and, while great glee will be taken by many in pointing out both were lost, Liverpool hadn’t even been in the conversation for a trophy since 2012. The Merseysiders are also pushing for Champions League qualification for only the second time in eight seasons. 

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HD Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

A malfunctioning start to the year may have removed some of the early shimmer of their top-flight campaign, but only once in the past seven terms have Liverpool managed more than 49 points after 25 matchweeks - 50 in 2013-14.

Klopp, in his first full season at the helm, is constructing a solid foundation for the club to build upon and to be, as per Philippe Coutinho’s assertion, ‘back on top.’ Liverpool may have to be patient for the ultimate prize, but unlike the current holders of the Premier League trophy, they will certainly not fall so hard, so fast.

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