If there is one person inside the Liverpool camp who will recall this season fondly, it is Nat Phillips.
It was back in early October when it looked like his brief Anfield career would be coming to an end.
In the final days of the transfer window, it was anticipated that Phillips would be the subject of strong interest.
Bristol City were one of the clubs who had made clear their admiration and the situation left many feeling that the Bolton-born defender would be heading for the exit door.
Even if only temporarily.
That move, though, would not materialise.
With Klopp’s numbers thin on the ground at centre-back, it would decreed that Phillips should stay put for now, in the event of any injuries.
That decision would prove to be prophetic.
It was of a turn of events that Phillips has since admitted left him disappointed, but within a few weeks, those frustrations would be forgotten as he prepared to make his Premier League debut.
“I was a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to going and playing football and just kick-starting my career, but obviously things changed,” he said last week.
“And I don’t think anybody could have seen what was coming, and it was like a typical example of how bizarre football can be sometimes.”
Given his importance to this Liverpool cause now just a few months after his near departure, Phillips is entirely correct about football’s often stranger-than-fiction reality.
The reasons for his growing influence are well documented, of course, and Phillips is realistic enough to know that game-time would be fleeting had there not been season-ending injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez before Joel Matip suffered a similar fate.
After all, a lack of opportunities was the determining factor behind his desire to seek pastures new back in October, but when the scenario changed, Phillips made sure he was ready to step up.
“He’s not easy on the eye, he’s not Messi but who cares?” was Jurgen Klopp’s in-direct, roundabout praise of the 23-year-old after a commanding performance on his debut against West Ham.
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Phillips won’t turn 24 until the end of the month, but he is a player who has learned his craft at the old school.
“In the air, he’s a monster!” added Klopp after that 2-1 win on October 31.
“He was incredible. For the first game, I think everyone can imagine how nervy that must be after a long wait.”
More than accomplished in the air, Phillips has kept it simple during his eight Premier League games to date.
He even found himself as something of ‘the senior man’ last week when he and Ozan Kabak formed Liverpool’s 18th different centre-back pairing in the 2-0 win over Sheffield United.
At just 20, and new to English football, Kabak was taking the lead from Phillips as they combined to from a no-nonsense backline that kept Liverpool’s only clean sheet in their last nine games.
“You can see with Ozan’s performances that he’s adapting in the games,” Phillips said recently of his new team-mate.
“I had a similar sort of experience when I was playing in Germany last year on loan with Stuttgart to coming back to playing in the derby in the FA Cup against Everton.
“The first 15 or 20 minutes, I was a bit shell-shocked because I’d got used to the style of football and how the game was played over there.”
The Merseyside derby that Phillips refers to, of course, was the game when he was flown back from his loan spell with Stuttgart in the Bundesliga II to provide a defensive basis for one of the results of last season.
A Liverpool second string saw off the threat of a virtually full strength Everton side in the FA Cup thanks to Curtis Jones’ second half wonder-goal.
Phillips would later receive a trademark hug from Klopp before he was dispatched back to Germany to resume his loan stint.
Phillips, it seems, is making a habit of answering the unlikely calls at Anfield.
His value was underlined on Thursday night when the Liverpool team sheet dropped and his name was not on it for the visit of Chelsea.
Questions began to arise about his absence and fears grew that he had become the latest to succumb to what has felt like a curse on Liverpool’s centre-backs at times this term.
“In general, if you have options then it makes you stronger but it’s always players coming back, when they’re back on the bench and they’re not injured any more,” was Klopp’s response to Fabinho returning in Phillips’ place ahead of kick-off on Thursday.
“This is good and we have to make sure we try to use them as early as possible.
“With Fab, it was necessary because Nat is out, but it’s brilliant news.”
Klopp’ confirmation that Phillips would be ready for Sunday’s visit of Fulham on Friday was met with a hushed sigh of relief.
His inclusion eases the significant burden that continues to push down firmly on Klopp’s defensive ranks.
Despite the January signings of Kabak and Ben Davies, from Preston, it is Phillips whose unlikely status has grown the most at centre-back.
He will never be Messi, as Klopp puts it, but Phillips can take great satisfaction in his achievements these past few months.
If this season will end as a forgettable one for Klopp’s Liverpool, from a domestic stance, at least Phillips will always remember it.