JÜRGEN Klopp is Liverpool manager then. He can’t buy any players for the best part of three months so, as a consequence, he’s going to have to make do with what he’s got. And I think he should be encouraged by what he’s got.
He’s got a pool of strikers that any manager would surely be very happy with, international footballers all over the place and a squad that really is better than it has been performing recently.
It’s undeniable that since the 2013-2014 season ended this is a squad that should be doing better. You’ll read valid mitigating circumstances elsewhere, but that’s not really my point so I’ll leave you to go elsewhere for that.
Ultimately, Liverpool are better than the last 46 league games. A change of manager, if it’s the right manager, should instantly make this side better. In the same way that it’s not inconceivable that appointing a manager inferior to Rodgers could see us get worse.
There’s a fair few players Rodgers signed who aren’t popular, people think they’re rubbish, that they shouldn’t have been signed, that they will just automatically get binned off and replaced at the first possible moment. I think this train of thought could be a little premature. If a different manager is going to bring a different approach, it’s only fair to think that players will play differently. Everyone gets a clean slate.
So what is Klopp going to do differently? As I’ve already said, he can’t buy anyone, so we’re going to have to use the players we have. There are two approaches here — he goes pragmatic and spends the next three months, and maybe the rest of the season, playing a system that is going to be derived from of the players he’s left with or, alternatively, he says, ‘I’m doing this’ and he plays the system that was seen to such good effect at Borussia Dortmund.
I think he’ll try to put his stamp on it. I’d rather see that. I don’t want him to be pragmatic in the short term to the potential detriment of his long-term approach. Put your plan in place and you will see if the players will do exactly what you want in the long-term environment you want. So, you would think we will see what he did at Dortmund: pressing the opposition and being aggressive. “Heavy Metal Football.” Loud, in your face, full on. If that’s his brand, how are we setting up?
He played a 4-2-3-1 with Dortmund. A front four full of energy, two good footballers sat in front of the back four protecting the defence and using the ball intelligently, full backs who were solid but could also support the attack when needed, and two strong centre backs who loved defending and weren’t bad on the ball either, without quite being Alan Hansen.
They counter-attacked a great speed and when they lost the ball they tried to get it back as quickly as possible. Sounds familiar. One thing that this Liverpool side is blessed with is legs, and all over the park.
Working back to front then, and starting with the goalkeeper. I don’t think I’m breaking new ground in saying that Simon Mignolet is something that needs sorting. Despite some great saves against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, he isn’t the top-class goalkeeper that we require. You would be surprised if he is still the No.1 when we rock up at Leicester City the day after the January transfer window ends. Germany is awash with great goalkeepers — it wouldn’t be a shock to see one of them in goal by the season’s end.
Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne can do exactly what is required of full backs in Klopp’s favoured system — get up and down, assist counter attacks — so we’re fine there. And then you get to a really interesting portion of the pitch for me. Two deep lying midfielders in front of two centre backs.
We effectively have three-and-a-half centre backs. I’m not including Kolo Toure and I’m counting Joe Gomez as the half. One of the biggest failings of Rodgers was that we conceded too many goals — something that we were probably willing to do in 13-14 but since then it’s been a clear issue.
For me the biggest problem was that we asked our centre halves to do too much defending. They got practically zero protection in front of them. Trying to score goals is great fun and I’m fully down with it as an approach but if you aren’t scoring the goals, as we weren’t last season, then you have to stop them.
The only spell of clean sheets and good solid defending in the last year or so was when Lucas, a player who Brendan Rodgers repeatedly tried to sell, lined up in the team, protecting the defence, winning balls back and stopping attacks before they reached the defence. It’s a knock-on effect across the park. The strikers help the midfielders who help the defenders who help the goalkeeper. If you defend from the front it makes everyone’s life easier. We’ve basically been defending from 30 yards in front of our goalkeeper for the last year or so — is it any surprise it’s come to this?
There has been lots that Martin Skrtel has got wrong in recent times, almost everyone hates Dejan Lovren and plenty of people (I’m not one) have doubts about Mamadou Sakho as a defender. But all we have seen of two of these three Liverpool players is them playing in a team set out to offer them no help.
People will tell you these players are rubbish at defending and champion Daniel Agger, who didn’t look any more comfortable in the set up, but the four positions here are all linked.
Skrtel has been involved as a defender in Rafa Benitez sides — he isn’t a bad player. The difference then was he had Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano protecting him. He looked good when he was protected, he didn’t look good when he wasn’t. Maybe he should be defending better when asked to defend, but that’s a completely different argument.
Lovren is a similar case. We spent £20million on him and bought him from a team who used two players ahead of him — players who were good at marshalling the space and limited the amount of defending he had to do. Now, while I would rather holiday in Syria than watch Victor Wanyama play for Liverpool, Lovren was protected by him. The Croat came here and he was exposed. The more you ask defenders to do, the more they will get wrong, so let’s ask them to do less. They should be the last line of defence, not the first.
If we set up as discussed I’d quite like to see Lovren partner Sakho. I don’t think all is lost with Lovren. Every player should be given a fresh start and I refuse to believe he’s as bad as we’ve seen in the last 14 months.
Set up a two in front of the centre backs and get them to win the ball back. If Lovren doesn’t look any better then, out he goes. But to not even have a look would be negligent.
You would expect Henderson to be in there with a partner and you would hope Emre Can would be capable. If he isn’t, there’s Lucas as a stop gap. Use the ball well, win the ball, dominate.
Would Henderson and Milner work? I suspect not — Milner’s days as a central midfielder could be over before they have even started, which from his point of view is pretty unfortunate. There’s a place for him though, I’m sure. Maybe further forward.
That leaves you with a front four. Goals, aggression, pace, quality, creativity. Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Christian Benteke, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, Jordon Ibe, Divock Origi, Adam Lallana — it’s pretty deep. Bring Lazar Markovic back from loan (makes the decision to loan him even madder than it already was) and we’ve got real options up front.
We’ve got a good squad for him to start off with. High energy, clever footballers, goals, aggression. It doesn’t need overhauling to be what Klopp wants it to be. It’s not perfect but it’s a start.
It wouldn’t surprise me if he really liked Joe Allen, too. But I won’t expand that one because I frankly can’t be arsed with people filling my mentions column on Twitter with anger. Same with Lallana.
They’re energetic and intelligent. No, they aren’t perfect but I’m convinced Klopp will find a use for them. We need a squad and they’ve both got assets that are useful. Contrary to what many people seem to think, they aren’t bad footballers.
TAW Player: Raphael Honigstein on Jurgen Klopp
The biggest key for me though is that Klopp’s blueprint is understood and appreciated by the much talked about Transfer Committee. So when it comes to signing players it should be relatively simple: see what type of player he wants, sign that type of player. Don’t waste money on spare pegs when you need round ones.
They should all be on the same page and if they aren’t then the appointment is already doomed to fail — they shouldn’t be signing players they want, they should be signing players he wants. Find out what he wants and get it. No messing.
So, Jurgen, welcome to Liverpool, you’ve got some good players here. Make us smile again. I’ll be honest, I’m excited.
Pics: PA Images/Propaganda Photo
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I’m as interested to see which of our popular players he doesn’t like. He’s probably a better judge of player than the average football fan. I wouldn’t be surprised if a nailed on regular suddenly finds himself nowhere near the first team and sold in January.
When a team isn’t playing well, it can be that the players who seem to be carrying the side are actually the main problem.
Copying this in from an older post, but I stand by it:
I don’t think the current squad is bad as people say. And importantly, it’s young, with potential. Which is exactly the kind of squad Klopp took control of at Dortmund.
All of the following players strike me as potentially being “Klopp-style” players, who could easily go to another level with that extra push and education:
Markovic (when he comes back)
Flanagan (when he comes back)
The ones I’m not so sure about:
Benteke (although Dortmund did apparently try to sign him while Klopp was there)
We’ll only see after some games and transfer windows who is “Klopp style”.
But i disagree in some points:
Lucas- I like him, but he lacks pace and have bad positioning, something very important for DM’s in Gegenpressing.
Markovic- Another one i really like, But he doesn’t look like the hard working player Klopp like.
Sakho- hard working, good with the ball and proactive defender, he is perfect for Klopp.
Allen- Very hard working, but same as Sahin (i’m comparing style, not quality here) he can’t be a anchor man, he can’t defend alone or he is going to be destroyed.
The only one that is very clear to me that will go away is Mignolet. He is a good shot stopper, but is insecure, can’t catch balls and have a terrible footwork, something that is important for a keeper that is suposed to start counter attacks and plays in a system with a very high defensive line. I Believe this and another centre back are the positions that he will try to sort in january, since they are critical here.
“Lucas- I like him, but he lacks pace and have bad positioning , something very important for DM’s in Gegenpressing.”
I am tempted to conclude that you a. watch the game in Braille and b. you do not really know what gegenpressing involves.
So, yeah, ok, thanks for the invaluable contribution.
Interesting list for sure. I would say that both Benteke and Sakho are technically gifted enough that they might actually do well in the new set up. I feel that both of them have gears in them we haven’t seen yet.
I am also curious about how Coutinho and Sturridge will fare because they were signed by Brendan Rodgers. Both did very well under him and were championed by him.
Paul Tomkins makes pretty clear in his latest piece that Sturridge and Coutinho were both committee players.
In fact, we had an opportunity to sign Sturridge earlier and Rodgers opted for Borini instead.
Why are you worried about Sakho? I’m not. I’m not worried about him or Touré, for different reasons. Wasn’t Skrtel supposed to go to Roma if we didn’t sign him? Maybe Klopp will get Benedikt Höwedes, Niklas Süle and Timo Horn. With Sakho and Gomez as back up CB’s.
I hope I’m wrong about Sakho. His passing is excellent, but if we’re going to be playing a high line there’s just something a bit unnerving about him in a positional sense.
but … and this is the point i don;t get. His positional sense is excellent. The only time he is out of position is when he is trying to cover for some fuck up elsewhere. Such as a non – existent midfield.
if Kloppo loves heavy metal then he will love the Sack.
The Sack fucking rocks!
i shall also reply with the same comment i made previously: how could you write of our all foir centre backs? They cant be that all bad. Skertal and Sakho have both played in higher lines. And as the writer mentioned, with proper defending from the frontline and midfield 2, Lovren can still fit in because he cant turn bad overnight. (i dont keep picking on any player as long as they wear red uniform with pride and give 100%)
Just what am i missing?? i am at a loss to understand. Help me out here and explain what i am missing.
What is it about Mamadou Sakho (or the Sack as i like to call him) that his critics don’t get?
i see easily the best, gifted defender that we have. he reads a game,is strong, his passing is excellent. I really don’t get it.
and firsr choice for France, with Real Madrid CB…
I love Sakho as well, but you have to admit, he looks absolutely discombobulated on the ball…even though he rarely gives it away or makes a mistake….Lovren looks really smooth on the ball and screws up all the time. That may be what people are seeing and why they aren’t drawn to him. But me, after a ton of watching his unorthodox style, I think it can’t be luck he’s good.
Hendo “runs with a wrong gait”
Sack passes with the wrong gait. thats all :)
Sakho? I can see him captain of Jurgens team. Allowing Henderson to concentrate on becoming a better all round player. It will be interesting to see what is made of Milner, what with all the promises Brendan made to him. Exciting times.
Something else I’ve just thought of: We’re going to win the Europa League!
He will want his own players and must have been promised the funds to get them or he wouldn’t be here. End of season fire sale is on the cards
I’ve had just a little experience of German culture and the way of German people.
There are a few things that would surprise me about Klopp.
I would be surprised if he didn’t speak reasonably good English.All the Germans I know do and it puts me to shame.
I would be surprised if he didn’t think long and hard about this move.
I would be surprised if the first he knew about this was last Sunday at about 4.00 p.m.
I would be surprised if he wasn’t consulted on our recent signings.
I would be surprised if he wasn’t instrumental in delaying the announcement out of respect and courtesy to a fellow Manager.
After that nothing will surprise me.Hold on to your hats! This is going to be some roller coaster ride.
I don’t think he’ll be talking about giving him time and getting the right tools.That kind of mentality just doesn’t exist in Germany.Just watch and enjoy!
Read a lot of Klopp related stuff over the last couple of days and this is my favourite. Particularly enjoyed the defence of Allen and Lallana who get a lot of shit from people who decided they hated Rodgers rather than just thinking he should be sacked with them being his signings. Allen has shown plenty of hustle and bustle about him I think Klopp would be into and Lallana excelled in a pressing Southampton side. His goal in Gerrard’s last game at Anfield was pure Dortmund the way he nicked it.
Lucas is on for about his tenth wind as a Liverpool player because as we know from the Benitez days you need a player adept at that position to make 4231 work. Plus, we need someone to cover over when Moreno can’t get back in cos he likes a mad run. Spot on on Henderson and Lucas/Can taking turns to partner him. I liked Can at playing out as a center half but if he’s gonna clear it along the deck across his own goal consecutive weeks…
Any promises Brendan made Milner are null and void so right mid where he came on and was the best player on the pitch against us in the 3-2 would be nice to see. Commented on this before on here but that might draw some latent Zabaletaness out of Clyne. Might even see some good showings out of Ibe as a more orthodox winger with a fullback behind him to work with. The downside of this is it places Coutinho in a bit of positional limbo. Back in as a 10?
The forwards situation looks a bit mad now as well but it’s a nice problem to have. Why they let Rodgers spend our second record amount on a target man in the summer when they weren’t sure of him is baffling. Then again if he scores goals of quality he did against United I don’t suppose it’ll matter and he’s not the fish out of water you’d imagine a Balotelli or Carroll to be.
Think there could be a 08/09 Torres and Kuyt situation with regards to Sturridge and Ings where the main talent and goal scorer plays but when he’s inevitably out the worker can come off being a winger doing a job to getting a go upfront. I reckon Klopp’s going to love Ings as much as Rafa loved Kuyt and the lads earned the right to play for me.
Fair comments..and I appreciate your stand on Allen and Lallana. Agreed with comparison between Kyut and Ings. (i believe u are the first done that here)
cant write off Benteke just yet. Remember JK wanted to sign him for BD previously before Benteke joined Villa.
the same with Milner. I hope the fans dont view him as Rodgers’ pet and start to pick on him jist as some of us do on Allen and Lovren.
Yeah, just read the Benteke/Dortmund link on David Segar’s piece. Had never heard the likes. Mad.
Just pleased to be feeling excited about footy again. Getting over being disappointed for Rodgers now; Liverpool managers that aren’t You Know Who getting bulleted always feels shit.
Reckon in three years time, if we don’t still find ourselves frustrated with FSG’s approach to the running the club and the transfers, we’ll have won a title. Now there’s a happy thought.
There would be a desperate sort of irony if Joe Allen goes on to become a key part of the post-Rodgers era. I’d love to see the little guy start playing the way he did in his first games for us.
Suarez said: “Joe was especially brilliant the first 10 games or so and I thought he was an excellent signing. Brendan knew him really well from their time at Swansea and Joe’s first few games were fantastic. He was very good with the ball, he fitted the philosophy perfectly and defensively he was exceptional…From my point of view, there was something in that idea of Joe as the Welsh Xavi.”
If you want to start a bar fight in Liverpool, drop that last quote.
And I’d love for Klopp to transform Lallana from silky to tenacious. Force him to listen to heavy metal for a few weeks (or whatever it is that managers do). Same with Ibe. Smack him in the face a couple of times, get that fear out of him, and turn him into a lean, mean fighting machine (or something).
Our front three have all the potential to be devastating, both individually and as a unit. And we have yet to see Benteke play for an elite-level manager. For all we know, he could be the next Lewandowski.
Mostly, I just love that Klopp has no responsibility for targeting Lovren. What a relief! Now, just make Sakho co-captain. Who is more heavy metal than that guy?
I remain an immense fan of Rodgers, who will eternally be shortchanged in my memory of his era, but I am almost literally giddy with the possibilities that Klopp brings!
hi Walter, Allen’s standout game to me was avainst ManCity where he was all over and man of the match. We have 5 players for two positions ~ Hendo, Milner, Allen, Lucas and Can (and Rossiter). interesting.
Funny comment abt Lallana and Heavy Metal :)). dont give himbthe wrong band though:
Ozzy/Black Sabbath: not fast enough
Scorpions: not enough ‘in your face’
My two choices for him
~ AC/DC and Iron Maiden
(Adam, are u reading this???:)
Just like u, i wanted BR to stay on till Dec or end of season and hoped he would turn around. But really enjoying how much positive vibes and hopes this new appointment brings before even kicking the ball .
danke. gute nacht. :)
hi Phil. thank you. Excellent analysis of the whole squad of players based on JK’s system. Thank you for rightfully pointing out Allen/Lallana may fit in.well. And for the valid point on Lovren too.
I do not have any Liverpool player that i dislike, and want all of them to do well because this means the team do well too.
feeling really positive about this season and more. (i was never anti-BR person) but cant believe how much positives can be achieved just by appointing the new manager (the right one, of course).
Dont holiday in.Syria (not yet:). Choose Dubai. Drinks on.me at the official reds pub. You earned lot of brownie points for this article. cheers
Klopp need to:
1) Bring in a proper explayer on his staff ( Carragher or …. since I am Danish I would love to see Agger on his staff)
2) Get layers playing in their positions
3) Get players to work their socks of for the shirt
4) bring in 1 or 2 players of quality in January
I think the rest will sort itself out. Klopp will get rid of everyone who is not willing to work for the shirt and who does not buy into his philosophy.
The headline poses a question: ‘…will he revive the Reds?’
I think he has already. He’ll be forgiven a lot if he only reminds visiting teams that ‘This Is Anfield’.