When Jurgen Klopp arrived on Merseyside in October of 2015, the German looked like a completely different man to the one supporters watched tearfully quit Borussia Dortmund just four months prior.
With the hint of a summer tan still in place, the former BVB boss was all smiles as his trendy black jacket clung to his slimmer frame and the glimmer in his eyes reflected off his spectacles.
Yet there were times during the end of his reign at Signal Iduna Park where it looked like Klopp was ready to jack it all in, like he had fallen out of love with the game.
Having taken Dortmund to the Champions League final in 2013, Klopp’s side finished seventh in the 2014/15 season – some 33 points off Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.
But the chasm at the conclusion does not paint the full picture; Dortmund had just 15 points heading into the winter break, were in the relegation zone, and had already lost more times and conceded more goals in half a year than in the entirety of the previous season.
Only goal difference kept them off the foot of the table.
Fast forward to 2021 and history seems to be repeating itself for the 53-year-old at Liverpool. Having won a sixth European title in 2019 and finally securing the Premier League title 12 months later, the Reds now find themselves cut helplessly adrift from runaway leaders Manchester City.
Although the situation is not as dire as when Klopp found himself in a relegation battle with Dortmund, there are certain similarities which will alarm Liverpool fans. Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Fulham consigned the club to their sixth consecutive defeat at Anfield.
Having gone 11 hours without a goal at home in the Premier League, Liverpool’s top four chances are in tatters having led the way at Christmas. Yet journalist Andy Brassell stressed the Reds’ implosion is not as bad as Dortmund’s demise in 2014…yet.
“I’m not sure we are seeing a repeat of that yet,” Brassell told talkSPORT on the Trans Europe Express. “I think that it’s a bit soon.
“Bearing in mind that last season at Dortmund, they were bottom at February. Bottom of the Bundesliga and with a squad that included Mats Hummels, Marco Reus etc.
“So I don’t think we should jump the gun there, but what it is worth noting I think is that it took time to fall apart at Dortmund.
“Clearly, part of that was losing key players and Robert Lewandowski going in 2014 was a huge part of that and they really botched the succession of Lewandowski. Now that, I think, is the next stage of it.
“Clearly Liverpool aren’t in a position where they are going to be forced to sell players. But on the other hand, and this was clear when they were winning the league last season and were absolutely imperious last season, at some point you have to make tough choices even with a winning team.
“You have to move on from players who are very much loved by the fans and now, that is becoming a little bit more clear. So I don’t think we are reaching the Dortmund point yet.
“I think in terms of them consistently losing at home, particularly inferior teams, that is an issue, When you look at first half, in particular, of that first half of the season at Dortmund and they were losing at home ot Hamburg and Hannover and they ended up losing to Augsburg and Mainz.
“That was different of course in that Dortmund had a full stadium at the time, but it was huge problem problem in that Klopp very much ran out of tactical idea.”