Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool revival taking longer than expected | inside World Soccer

In the immediate aftermath of Jurgen Klopp's appointment as Liverpool manager, the former Dortmund coach expressed his surprise that he was taking charge of a club that were in such good shape. Admitting that he did not expect to be taking over a team that were only six points off the top-four, he can have no complaints that he has been playing catch-up.

But a quick look over his shoulder following the Reds' loss to Crystal Palace immediately before the international break will show Watford, Stoke, West Brom and Swansea hot on their heels – and given the relative standings of those clubs, this should give Klopp cause for alarm. They are now seven points behind arch-rivals Manchester United who occupy fourth spot, and also sit below the likes of Leicester, West Ham and Everton.

Whilst the German has not been instructed to get Liverpool back into the Champions League next season – his brief was instead to “develop a recognisable brand of football” – the fans certainly feel that they have been dining away from Europe's top table for too long.

Given Chelsea's failure to perform this season, the Reds would normally be strongly-backed to finish not just in the top-four, but possibly even the top-three, meaning that they would be spared the potential trauma of a play-off to qualify, but it's unlikely that even the most hardcore of Koppites will think it's a safe bet they'll be in the top 3 by Christmas.

They are currently 11/5 with Coral to finish in the top-four come the end of the season, and with a massive game coming up this weekend against present league-leaders Manchester City, a win for Klopp's side would see that price tumble – so get in on the action while you can. In fact, why not double-up by taking Liverpool to win at the Etihad on Saturday at 9/2, and with Coutinho in a ripe vein of form, you can also back the Brazilian to open the scoring at 9/1.

But it's not just punters with plenty to look forward to. Liverpool fans will be only too aware that the fixture list for the second half of the season is far more favourable, with games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton, Spurs and the return game against Man City all at Anfield – so it may be too early to give up dream of mixing it with the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona next season.

Time will tell of course – and the charismatic German has earned himself plenty of that with his media-savvy performances enchanting supporters and owners alike. But promising to deliver a title within four years, and then only signing a three-year contract have raised a few eyebrows. We will all know more on Saturday night...

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