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ANDY DUNN: Klopp finally has Liverpool’s fans looking forward after making it clear he’s in it for the long haul

Date Posted,December 29, 2016

There is something different about Anfield and it is not just another shiny new stand.

It is a place where they will never let go of the past, but are now more enthralled by the future.

Jurgen Klopp has seen to that.

At half-time against Stoke on Tuesday, kids from the academy went through their paces out on the pitch.

Kids so young, some of them have not yet decided whether they are goalkeeper or ­goalscorer.

They were all ­introduced to the 53,000 crowd, ­accompanied by a verbal pen picture.

Klopp has shown he’s in it for the long haul (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

It would not surprise you if it was Klopp’s idea. If not, it would have had his enthusiastic approval – just as the £40,000 annual salary cap on first-year professionals did.

Klopp could not have made it clearer he is in for the long haul.

There is genuine hope around Liverpool Football Club that he will be one of the great dynastic managers.

Steven Gerrard was, not unusually, in the crowd for that Stoke City game.

Gerrard will be forever ­idolised – a great.

Steven Gerrard looks on from the stand
Gerrard was at the Stoke game (Photo: Getty)

It is, though, a measure of Klopp’s impact that the Gerrard-shaped void, both on and off the pitch, which most supporters imagined, has not materialised.

Gerrard can sit in the stands, even join the coaching staff, and will cast no shadow over Klopp in a similar way to which, unintentionally and unwittingly, Kenny Dalglish did to Roy Hodgson.

But, while Klopp may have an Anfield vision stretching far, the future is also tomorrow.

You suspect this is a ­Liverpool team that has got to where it is faster than even Klopp expected.

It is a team that is now emerging as the likeliest, closest rival to Chelsea for the Premier League title.

The win over Stoke lifted the Reds into second place (Photo: AFP)

Not only can you base that on the current league table – with Liverpool lying six points behind in second – you can base it on Klopp’s record against the accepted elite.

This season, an old Premier League order has been restored.

If you accept – in no ­particular order – Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs to be the Big Six, only five teams outside have won a match against that group.

Everton beat Arsenal, Leicester beat Manchester City, Burnley and ­Bournemouth beat ­Liverpool, Watford beat Manchester United.

All the other defeats among the Big Six have come at the hands of each other. Anyone can beat anyone in the Premier League is actually a bit of a myth.

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