It's Liverpool's.

Published: Monday, 06 August 2018

If Liverpool don’t win the title with this squad they’ll never win it again. Jurgen Klopp now has all the tools he requires to end ‘the long wait’.

I like what he’s been doing. In January and again this summer he addressed areas that Liverpool were desperately short in - centre back and goalkeeper. I said after their CL surrender that unless he got himself a good keeper he’d never win anything.

I don’t mind at all that he’s been spending. You’ve got to spend, now more than ever before - and you can go all the way back to Sunderland’s ‘Bank of England’ team to find clubs that have ‘bought the title’. You have to. They all do.

I can hear United fans screaming now ‘but we didn't’. Yes you did. There isn’t a team in PL history that’s spent more. Add it all up from the moment Fergie took charge.

I know Klopp arrived claiming that he’d do it differently. He was playing the party line. Those in charge of the money at Anfield weren’t going to be throwing it about until they were convinced by him.  There have been times they must’ve wondered - but now I believe they’re right behind him.

So Klopp has GOT to deliver. It’s some achievement to have taken teams to a total of six finals - but he can’t afford to lose another one - not that a cup final will be the priority this season. The league HAS to be. He’s got to show he can be a winner again.

They were closer to City last year than any other side. As we saw - on their day they could be better. Now they’ve got to find the consistency to do it every weekend. And it’s got to be EVERY weekend.

Of course City will be most people’s favourites, but I believe their priority will be CL. Guardiola has spent a fortune piecing together this team and they blitzed the title last season. They were an absolute joy to watch, but he’s got to take it on. Winning another title wouldn’t do that. He’s got to win the CL, something that he has failed miserably to do since leaving Barcelona and critically - something he hasn’t done without Messi.

 He’ll tell you he wants to win the title again. Of course he will, but privately he knows it’s time to put to bed the ‘Messi’ jibe and deliver what City’s owners most want. They’ve won the league before with Mancini and Pellegrini (who did it with Mancini’s team) and now Guardiola. The ‘project’ demands the big one.

So who else for the top 4? I’m pretty certain about 1 and 2 - and it could yet be that my order is reversed, but I’ve changed my mind about the other two positions every day for a week! Anyway, here goes.

Against Spurs is settling into the new stadium. For Spurs is the new stadium! It’s a tricky one. I was never convinced they could win the title out of Wembley but they did well to make the top 4 again operating in surroundings that gave everybody they played a lift. They’ll need a whole lot more out of Delli Alli, who I thought went backwards last season. He also had a very ordinary WC. They haven’t added anything, so In effect Spurs have stood still. The huge debt for an over budget stadium might be the reason.

But so far United have stood still as well (I’m writing Monday before the window closes). I don’t like what I’m hearing coming out of Old Trafford. I originally thought Mourinho and United were a perfect match - but it seems he hasn’t learned anything from previous jobs. He’s miserable again. He’s tiresome again. He’s wearing again. He’s wining again. Jose - we’re fed up with it - but more worrying for United fans is that I hear his players are too. Right now I understand why he’s favourite to be the first man sacked. Unless things change I think he could be gone by Christmas. It’s almost as though he’s trying to get out again.

I’ve no idea what to make of Arsenal. Will the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ apply? I don’t know.

And that leaves Chelsea. I’m delighted to see Gianfranco Zola back at The Bridge. He’s a Chelsea man to the core. He’ll help Sarri no end - but will Sarri help himself? ‘Sarri-ball’?  There’s no such thing. Here’s somebody else trying to re-invent the game. Sarri’s big challenge is to try and persuade the PL’s most difficult dressing room to go with him on this next adventure at The Bridge. He’s never worked with such big players before. Keeping Hazard would be a huge lift for everybody - but can he? There aren’t many left from AVB’s time at The Bridge - but Sarri’s way of playing doesn’t differ a lot from what he wanted - playing high up the pitch with plenty of fast passing and good movement. I think Bill Nicholson and Bob Paisley used to play it! The point is though - Chelsea’s infamous dressing room didn’t buy into AVB. Sarri has got to get the players on his side - and straight away.

Sarri’s other problem is that he’s never played. Marco Silva will have the same issues at Everton. If you haven’t had a career it’s really tough to persuade today’s superstars to go with you when you want something from them they they’re not happy with. You’ve either got to change the players - or have a cv that blows them away. Neither Sarri nor Silva has that.

I got a lot of stick for offering Benitez advice last week. I stand by it. It’s so tiresome to hear him bleating on. These are the facts - Mike Ashley isn’t going to change. Benitez will get the money the club generates - no more. Ashley isn’t going to put it back into the mess he inherited. It’s stable now. It’s in the PL and they’ve got enough to be competitive with. Competitive? Top half - maybe a Cup.

Benitez won’t get a better job if he walks and he knows it.  Newcastle is a fantastic football club. If he delivers silverware his stock will rise even further. Forget top 4. It’s not going to happen. Keegan over achieved and for a while so too did Dalglish and Bobby Robson, who both delivered CL football.

Newcastle fans should stop their fight with Ashley, bite into some realism,  get behind their team and demand their manager does the same. He won’t walk - not without a pay off. Which leaves one last question on this subject - is he trying to get the sack? If he does go - trust me - Newcastle will survive.

Everton and Silva need a good start. I’m not convinced. After last season’s excitement - and I bought into it - I don’t smell the same anticipation. Perhaps that’s a good thing, but Silva’s got a job on. I hope I’m wrong - but I think it’s going to be a long season for long suffering Evertonians.

Can Burnley go again? I hope so, but a lengthy European campaign will be a distraction. If I was Sean Dyche I’d be out of the Europa League as quickly as possible. Tony Pulis found exactly that at Stoke. These type of clubs aren’t equipped for European campaigns. The League is bread and butter.

I’ll deal with the new boys, try and find a surprise and talk about survival tomorrow. So - top 4/6. You know, I’m still unsure, but here we go....

     1. Liverpool.

     2. City.

     3. Spurs


     4. United

     5. Chelsea

     6. Arsenal. Maybe!!