The second international break of the season is with us so perhaps it is a week to reflect for Liverpool supporters.

Not only on the impressive and unbeaten start to this Premier League season that their side have made, but also on three scintillating years under Jurgen Klopp.

Klopp celebrated his third anniversary as Reds boss on Monday and, while the first trophy of his reign has so far remained elusive, the promise he made on the day he first walked into Anfield to turn ‘doubters into believers’ has certainly happened.

The guest of the Liverpool Echo’s Blood Red spin-off podcast, Jonathan Northcroft, cannot overstate the impact talismanic manager has had.

But the highly respected Sunday Times football correspondent also explains how the revolution Klopp has spearheaded predates his arrival by three years; back to 2012 when now-FSG president Mike Gordon took hands-on control of the club and then promoted Michael Edwards to the role of director of technical performance.

And Northcroft argues that the relationship between Edwards, who is now Liverpool’s sporting director, Gordon and Klopp make the trio the club’s ‘real fab three’ – and not the free-scoring strikeforce of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, who Edwards and his team recruited and who Klopp has developed into world-class performers.

“Three years of Jurgen Klopp has been a great ride for Liverpool fans but it has not come out of the blue,” said Northcroft on the podcast, in which he expanded on an article he wrote for The Sunday Times at the weekend.

Jurgen Klopp celebrates at the end of the Group C match of the UEFA Champions League between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain
Jurgen Klopp celebrates at the end of the Group C match of the UEFA Champions League between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain
(Image: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

“It’s been part of a process that started with Mike Gordon in summer of 2012. If people don’t know how FSG works, it’s a set of investors, but the three key investors are Mike Gordon, John Henry and Tom Werner, and with Henry and Werner having probably tried to run Liverpool first, they gave Gordon his head to have a go.

“They had made progress, but Mike Gordon was the one who really wanted to grab hold of the club and pilot it.

“When he came in, he made the key decision to give Michael Edwards the power to reshape the football department, and I think between them, they spent three years setting in place this great structure; getting Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter to run the scouting, putting Alex Inglethorpe in charge of the Academy.

“They also had a programme of signings where people like Bobby Firmino arrived, Sturridge arrived, Coutinho arrived, Salah was scouted but they didn’t get him, although they did try… but what was lacking… it wasn’t that Brendan Rodgers was lacking necessarily, but he didn’t believe in the model. So the thing they were lacking was the right coach to fit what they had already built.

“Enter Jurgen Klopp, a guy who at Dortmund had worked in close partnership with a chief exec, Hans-Joachim Watzke, and a sporting director in Michael Zorc, to build a great team from almost nothing. He was the perfect fit in so many others ways, in terms of connecting with supporters and the passionate way his teams plays, but also the perfect fit in cold, hard structure terms, and in terms of what they’d put in place.

“So that’s what I wanted to get across (in the article); that Klopp arrived into almost a machine that had been built for him, and he’s taken it on with these two in close partnership, and that’s how the modern Liverpool works.”

Michael Edwards, sporting director of Liverpool FC

Edwards stays firmly under the radar. His picture wasn’t even on the club’s official website prior to being made sporting director in November 2016.

But Northcroft has met Edwards and, during the podcast, he offered an insight into the man.

“I can tell people he’s not a geek sitting in a dark room looking at a laptop, which I think is what people think these recruitment specialists do,” said Northcroft, whose new book, Deadlines and Darts with Dele, was launched this week.

“Michael Edwards is very detailed; a man who I think combines not just what we associate with the geeky side – he’s got Ian Graham, who is a big, big brain; a real data specialist who will come up with all sorts on incredible metrics when they’re looking at players – but then you’ve got Hunter and Fallows, who very much do traditional scouting.

“And Michael Edwards was a player. That’s another thing people need to know. He played for Peterborough, he worked closely with players, so he comes from that background as much as the stats side, and I think he’s someone who combines both approaches in a way you have to in modern football.”

It is an approach that is paying dividends for the Reds with the vast majority of the signings made under Klopp, including Mane, Gini Wijnaldum, Salah, Andy Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Virgil van Dijk, proving to be massive successes.

“It’s not a model that has worked perfectly from the start,” said Northcroft.

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrates victory with Georginio Wijnaldum after the Premier League triumph against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium
(Image: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“There were early successes – the January transfer window of 2013 when Sturridge and Coutinho came in for a combined £21m, which is ridiculously good business, but then there were the other windows when it was the Bentekes, who didn’t really fit the manager’s style even though Brendan Rodgers wanted him, or somebody like Iago Aspas, who was actually a real good signing, but maybe wasn’t someone who was ready as a person to come to Britain or who maybe didn’t fit Liverpool’s squad at the time.

“So they were on the right lines, but they weren’t quite pulling it all together, and you can see it’s something that’s improved steadily over the years.

“What does help it is having someone as clear-sighted in what he wants in a footballer as Jurgen Klopp. He isn’t tempted just to accumulate players for the sake of it.

“Jurgen will be very specific about the players he wants and if he can’t get them, he will work with the players that he’s got.

“That’s helped refine the model, but you have to say the last two or three transfer windows have been pretty sensational for Liverpool.”

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