When he was hired back in early October of 2015, Jurgen Klopp was asked a question about Liverpool's Premier League title drought. Maybe "drought" is the wrong word, as it suggests the absence of something that once existed. Since the breakaway Premier League was formed in May of 1992, Liverpool hadn't won a single title.
"This is one of the biggest problems you have here at Liverpool," he said. "The Premier League is one of the most difficult leagues in the world because five, six, even seven teams can win, in the end only one can be the champion. The rest will be disappointed."
At the time, Liverpool were in 10th place, had won just four of 11 matches in all competitions, and had only finished in the top four once since the turn of the decade. Leicester City, meanwhile, were just starting their improbable title run, and the Premier League seemed both easier and harder to win than ever before: Leicester were doing it, but in England you had to be better than so many other big clubs.
In Spain, two and sometimes three sides came into the season with legitimate title aspirations, Italy and France had become Juventus or PSG and then everyone else and, while Klopp's Dortmund disrupted the hierarchy a couple times in Germany, Bayern Munich had reasserted their dominance once again. In England, though, you had to be better than Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham. Then you had to contend with the Leicesters and Evertons and West Hams and Newcastles and Southamptons -- whichever other clubs rose up from the middle, year after year.
It also seemed like the weekend grind was taking its toll in midweek matches on the continent. Tasked with competing in a more competitive domestic league, only one Premier League team had reached a Champions League final since 2010 -- and the team that did (Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea) were, somehow, something of a one-off Cinderella run.
This is the environment Klopp stepped into and less than three years later, he had Liverpool in the Champions League final. A year after that, they won their sixth European Cup, followed by their first Premier League trophy in the 2019-20 season. While the Premier League's comparative wealth has only increased, Klopp -- and Pep Guardiola -- have turned the most competitive league in the world into one where only two teams seem to have a realistic shot of winning it all. And after Tuesday's win over Villarreal, Liverpool will now appear in three of the last five Champions League finals.