SO, where do we start this week?
I was going to begin writing this before the Leicester match but decided to hang fire in case anything of note happened that rendered my article useless before it was published.
As it happened, we just got to watch the same match again that we feel like we’ve been watching for years, so I needn’t have worried. I could have written a post-match review in advance and predicted 99 per cent of what took place.
I’m taking my TV back tomorrow. Keeps showing me the same match over and over again.
— Paul Cope (@paul7cope) 19 September 2017
It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
I was watching the game at home by myself which led me to spend more time inside the world of Twitter than I usually would, and it’s clear just from my short sojourn into the crazy realms of social media that the edges are already showing signs of wear and tear in the Jürgen Klopp rein.
Despite usually keeping a calm and balanced approach to all things football related, I find myself questioning the manager at a far earlier stage than I usually would, but mainly from the viewpoint that none of what I have witnessed over the past couple of weeks makes any sense to me, rather than in any fundamental issue with my belief in his qualities as a football manager.
Klopp has been extremely vocal in his support of his players since the transfer window gently closed at the end of August, which I have defended in the past as being a necessary part of the way in which he manages and the team spirit which is essential for the way his teams play. What makes little sense to me is that a few short weeks after refusing to buy a centre back because there are apparently none out there better than the ones Liverpool have got, he has now come out post match looking exasperated by his players (in which he has put his complete faith) making the same mistakes over, and over, and over again.
The fact that we are watching almost carbon copies of the same goals against Liverpool every few days says to me that there are either serious problems with the quality of players in key defensive positions or there are serious problems with the way in which those players are being coached on a daily basis. The irony is that literally everyone I know thinks that it is the former, and that the personnel is simply not of the required standard to win the Premier League or, indeed, any number of difficult games on the run in multiple competitions. Klopp has, therefore, made a huge rod for his own back by trying to convince us all that the players are good enough and that not one centre back in world football (other than Virgil van Dijk) would or could have improved upon what we have seen so far this season.
I have to admit that I’m baffled.
This article was originally going to focus solely on the recent comparisons being made between Klopp’s record to this point and that of Brendan Rodgers at the same stage in his tenure as the leader of The Mighty Reds. It’s still worth a mention even if only to wind some of you up about the qualities of Rodgers and how much he is still underrated by many inside and outside of Anfield.
Whenever I see someone comparing their respective records, I can never quite work out whether they’re trying to say that Klopp isn’t very good, Rodgers was better than people thought, a combination of both or, more likely, that they’re both rubbish.
Whatever angle it’s being attacked from, I think the argument is flawed unless it’s that they’re both really good managers who have actually done pretty well in the circumstances in which they found themselves.
Rodgers took over a failing team with a squad limited in numbers but sprinkled with gold dust and turned it into one of the most amazing football teams I have ever had the pleasure of watching on a weekly basis, taking it as close to the Holy Grail as Liverpool have come since 1990 before the wheels fell off after the departure of their best player, the decline of one of their greatest ever players and the questionable reinvestment of the Luis Suarez money.
Klopp took over a squad after a terrible start to a season, taking it to European and domestic finals within months, as well as a semi final and Champions League qualification in his second (and first full) season.
For those of you who will jump straight to the argument that Rodgers was nothing to do with the league title challenge because he had Suarez, I’ll just quickly make the point that I always make by saying that I can’t remember a Liverpool manager who ever won the league without a world class player in his team. Using world-class players to challenge for trophies is part and parcel of how it’s done. The fact that Rodgers created what he did around a player who before then had been mainly wonderful at dribbling past people before hitting the post speaks volumes about his coaching ability, which Suarez himself still references to this day when there is no need for him to do if it wasn’t genuine.
So, when Klopp’s record is questioned because it’s equivalent to or worse than Rodgers’ record at the same stage, I find myself wondering what it is people want. Liverpool’s new boss might not have challenged for a league title yet, but his record in the league to date has been hindered in both previous seasons by the cup runs that his side embarked upon. It’s impossible to compare records of number of games won in isolation without looking at what other factors had an impact.
We all know, for example, that in the run up to the Europa League final in 2016, players were being rested in league games to give Liverpool the best possible chance of winning a European trophy. We also know that Liverpool suffered terribly in the league last season because they tried, and failed, to win a two-legged league cup semi-final during an already busy January that came hot on the heels of the traditional Looney Tunes Christmas period.
And, importantly, we also know that Rodgers’ record to which Klopp’s is being compared included a period during which Liverpool played football from another planet and so very nearly won the league.
Aside from the nonsense of trying to compare Klopp with Rodgers, generally speaking I am of the view that no manager is, or should be, immune from criticism, even when they are as charismatic as Klopp. It does amuse me slightly, though, that there are already people claiming to be supporters who are calling for his head, given that in the week after he was appointed I remember recording an Anfield Wrap show in which I commented that I’d never seen the fan base so united in its support for a new manager being handed the job, and noted that it would be interesting to see how long it took some of those fans to turn against him and call for him to be sacked, changing their Twitter avatars from his bespectacled grinning face to that of a grimacing Diego Simeone.
It looks like the answer to that question is about 22 months, and I suppose that’s not bad for a Liverpool manager in the modern era and the knee-jerk world of the internet.
Anyone who is calling for his head at this point in time really needs to calm the fuck down and have a little word with themselves in the mirror. I’d guess that if you’re already acting like a raving banshee screaming for him to be sacked or calling radio shows calling him a clown it’s either because you want a bit of attention because you feel sad and lonely, or that you’re generally really angry in life and might want to ask yourself why.
For the rest of us, it’s a case of continuing to support the players in doing what they’re trying to do. This season has thrown up a challenge that most of them are not used to, with rotation having become a necessity in order to make sure that the legs of star performers aren’t falling off in the middle of January again. It’s worth remembering as well, that Klopp has never managed a team in the Premier League and Champions League previously, and that challenge is a completely different one to dealing with rotation in Germany, where there are no doubt opportunities to rest players against smaller Bundesliga teams who aren’t likely to beat you no matter which squad players you use. It’s important for all of us to remember that this team are all still on an upward trajectory despite the past week dampening all of our spirits and ruining the mood in our houses.
We can question decisions made in recruitment, team selections, tactics and substitutions without calling for the manager to be sacked and without creating an unbearable atmosphere which creates another hurdle for him and the players to overcome.
Football, like life, is a fickle beast and one in which fortunes can change quickly. This time last season Chelsea were floundering and everyone had awarded the league title to a rampant Manchester City side. We know now how that turned out.
So, we stick with them and we do our bit to help to pull them through this early season sticky patch. The good news from last night is that at least we know that January won’t be as busy as last season.
Which gives Jürgen and his team more time to buy a fucking centre back or two.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Haha, love the paragraph under the last Klopp picture. Seems out of character for your articles but was spot on.
Everything was all well and good until this line, “where there are no doubt opportunities to rest players against smaller Bundesliga teams who aren’t likely to beat you no matter which squad players you use.” Fanboys will be fanboys!
At last a bit of common sense and not the Angry Bird Brigade. It’s only September and people want him sacked.
Maybe they want Woy back.
Brilliant piece. `perfectly put Paul.
It’s a nasty brew that FSG have created for us here. I’m sorry but I can’t blame Klopp. All these cries of “Klopp needs to sort it out”,”Klopp needs to spend some money” and Klopp out are utter bs. When did the coach suddenly become entirely in charge of thrbbudget, recruitment as well as be the steelmaker aka closer. Never.
Klopp’s job is to work with what he has. Rodgers, despite being horribly out of his depth, had Luis Suarez whose salary is more than the true value of all these clowns put together.
FSG pays the bills and has their own dealmakers and recruitment team. But they’re inept and cheap to boot.
We’d have VVD right now if FSG opened their wallet and actually operated like professionals not clowns who can only attract the weak and the desparate.
Then again if FSG could open their wallets then they wouldn’t be shopping at Tesco Southampton FC.
So here we are. Utter shit lineup. A captain who has exhibited no leadership on the field. Lovren and Moreno still on the team letting the bus run them over.
Plenty of blame to go around but I can tell you where it isn’t…Klopp. He’s being asked to build a wall with a brittle teaspoon.
Seriously deluded dude.
So how do FSG overcome this ineptness – sign van Dyke and stop signing players from Southampton? Bit of a paradox that one.
Furthermore Mane, Lallana and Clyne have all improved the team so signing Southampton players hasn’t been all bad.
You mean Lallana who is almost injured as much as Sturridge and when he does play it’s not that noteworthy.
As for Clyne, he has his moments but it’s tough to spare him when 5 goals are scored on his team.
At this stage, we need to sell Coutinho. I saw this saga when it was Torres and Sterling. It only gets worse for us and we need the money. Immediate reinforcement of the defense will cost a lot.
Lallana’s rubbish isn’t he. Think you’ll find when he returns results will improve. I find it ironic that you say sell Coutinho. If he had been sold I’m sure you’d have been saying they sell all our best players for profit and to fund the Red Sox. You’ve got an agenda and it’s driven you mad to the point your views are confused. I’m sure you enjoyed the H&G saga and it gave your life a sense of purpose but there’s no appetite for the havoc you’re trying to reap on the club. Campaigning about frackin’s worthwhile mate.
FSG OUT. Cheap bastards who have no intention of improving us on the pitch. The apologists will be crying on each others shoulders when they sack Klopp and run us into the ground. A more intelligent and crafty version of Hicks & Gillet. Wake up to the real problem!
Paul, I agree with you on the fans needing to back off from all this knee-jerk reactionary stuff, but how about comparing Sporting Director Michael Edwards to Director of Football Damien Comolli.
Or how about comparing Director of Scouting Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter over the past few years they have been at the club now.
For me, it’s easy to pick on Jurgen for the team’s performance, but the quality of players he has from Henderson, to Gini, etc, makes me wonder what the Dream Team of Edwards, Fallows, Hunter, etc, have been really up to?
It’s one thing to criticize and point out we need this player and that player and VVD was the one-size fits all by media “experts”, lazy journalists, and rabid fans, but these guys should have a list of players for Jurgen to select from and not fuck up the main target acquisitions.
Jurgen is not without faults with his ill-timed subs, etc, but I am wondering from Brendan Rogers to Jurgen Klopp it’s been over 5 years and we still have Lovren as our 1st choice CB?
So I would like to know what this Dream Team are all about and what the fuck they’ve been doing at LFC?! It might help some fans get off Jurgen’s back to allow him time and space to get this head together and do his job.
Lovren shows games where he can perform, its the silly mistakes that you’ll get a bunch of expletives in a sunday league game for making. That’s not a lack of quality, but more extenuating factors, e.g. coaching not been good enough, concentration not good enough. off field problems. which we know he’s had.
However saying that I do feel we should’ve signed another player if van dijk didn’t happen, but maybe it will if it’s willing to happen in January. should we buy a alternate solution, which was more than likely ‘keane’. I prefer not to invest in a plan b with plan a available around the corner. getting van dijk in January. similar situation with keita.
Klopp’s been plugging holes and buying/improving players slowly whilst flying the plane in the air and has achieved all goals so far. e.g. matip, gini, firmino, mane, salah, Lallana, keita, coutinho, Moreno, robertson on top of that lets not forget the squad overhaul that’s happened. lot’s of dead wood has been sold. (or moved to the reserves as literally no one wants them, we had to give Balotelli away for free)
I can see the team he’s building and the players moving out, unfortunately I see hendo being replaced by can and keita coming into the middle alongside coutinho, with Lallana’s injuries meaning he’s unreliable. we have depth in hand. similarly to Sturridge. CB being a worry but if we had got vvd now. the squad would be hard to improve on. (taking account our financial power compared to that of city united Chelsea and even arsenal. not including European superpowers)
jurgen has weaknesses like every other manager in football except Zidane atm, but bring him into the prem and we’ll see about that.
Brendan imo like you was a great young manager, that lost belief in his own way that go him so far. Jurgen may have too much belief in his players. or in his own abilities. however this team isn’t a millions of miles away. add keita and van dijk or another cb that is decent at footy. You’ve got a squad capable of challenging at all fronts. as it stands yesterday is a poor result but one that Is a blessing in disguise. This is merely a lack of confidence in the team, which will be overcome in one win. if bobby had buried his pen, solanke not hit the bar. We would be talking about challenging for the league and champions league (maybe not champions league but football twitter would have).
This team murdered arsenal, which got a well fought point at the bridge without looking out of class or quality.
Whilst Newcastle are in the top 4 the results have little or no bearing on the overall context of the season.
There are many valid points in this dissertation not least the fact that managers can only manage the personnel they have and that those further up the food chain decide who that personnel will be. I do, however, believe that there are elements of Klopp’s management that are questionable at best, notably his poor substitution policy and his constant rotation of goalkeepers which added to the rotation of our seriously flawed centre backs is a major contributor to the Sunday league errors that continue to be our Achilles heel. At this time Klopp needs to start acting like a manager and not a public relations guru and have the courage to stand up to the ownership and fight for the kind of quality players this club deserves. Sometimes, taking that position can be costly for a manager ( ask Rafa) but sometimes you have to walk the talk and for our sake buy a fucking centre back.
Most teams that win the league have about 5 world class players that play week in week out from centre back via central mid to a striker and these players generally make the players around them play above their normal ability because the world class players read the game brilliantly and in their minds are two seconds ahead of what’s going to happen.
Klopp wanted 3 world class players to go with Coutinho and Mane and only got one in the summer and to be fair to Salah he has done well and scored goals even if he has been a bit wasteful at times. Had Nabby and VVD arrived you would expect a similar improvement at the back and in midfield to that of Salah upfront.
To be fair to Klopp all the players wanted to join Liverpool in the same way Chambers did and rejected other clubs in the process. The players were at clubs that you would expect to sell provided enough money was on the table. The fuck up (I think it’s safe to call it that now and not a cunning plan) of the VVD transfer probably wasted 12 months work of Klopps back room team and left a position of either waiting for VVD or trying to find a different player, and whilst it’s easy to say find a better CB than Klavern, Klopp preferred to wait. As he is doing for Naby next year or possibly January and it’s also possible that VVD arrives in January as well.
It may prove to be the wrong decision, not in a true footballing sense, but more in the collective falling off of heads the moment every goal is conceded from our fan base sense; which would not happen to the same degree if we had scored as we should have in the first twenty at Man City and Mane not been sent off. In the parallel universe where that happens we are top of the league having battered Seville and Burnley, scoring goals for fun and not having to defend because every team gives Liverpool a two – three goal win based on the understanding that we don’t take the piss and score 6 (six) or 7 (seven).
If we are going to draw parallels between Rogers and Klopp then I would advance the argument of having 5 world class players week in week out as the spine of the team makes a big difference and should be something to aim for. Add 3 world class players to this team as Klopp has already identified and it’s a lot better because the jump in class from what we have to what we will get is massive.
In the meantime Klopp has to work with what he has and it’s a big mixture of youthful promise, new additions and players coming back from injury to levels no one is sure of or being given second chances as in the case of Albie. As a squad we have very few solid pros in their late twenties and the ones we have Lallana and Clyne are both injured when their experience is probably needed most.
It’s not ideal, but since Hicks and Gillette purchased Liverpool it has never been ideal, it feels like it’s getting better, but it takes time, you cannot sort out 10 years of mistakes in two or three transfer windows and we have got a lot of catching up to do and the VVD fuck up shows how far we have to go both on and off the pitch. The difference i feel between Klopp and Rogers is that you feel Jurgan has a boss plan involving boss players playing boss Footie and at the moment we don’t have all the pieces of the jigsaw together yet but from what I have seen he has the best ideas of how to build a bastion of invinciblity since Rafa and it’s worth persevering with, even though at times it can be frustrating.
Stability…thats all…play your best,bring up the next generation from the lower ranks…
Very nice post, overall. However, I can’t help but highlight the slightly unexpected (from you) but extremely tiresome “Premier League exceptionalism” argument. I’m trying not to arrogantly assume that you’re not intimately familiar with the Bundesliga, but I really do fervently disagree with it being the king of league “where there are no doubt opportunities to rest players against smaller Bundesliga teams who aren’t likely to beat you no matter which squad players you use.” At a time when newly-promoted Hannover and tiny little Augsburg are fourth and fifth in Germany, and many many other reasons aside, that seems like a particularly ill-informed comment to make. I’m sorry if this seems like nitpicking over something that’s hardly the crux of your piece, but that attitude towards other competitions (which informed the hysterical criticism of Guardiola and Silva last season, and so much of the Premier League media machine that lies behind the impatience with Klopp) is more than I expect from you.
Exactly how I feel. lots of us think the epl in the dogs bollocks. It is good, but the ‘exceptionalism’ as you say is rife. And tiresome. Ott good article.
You’re on the tosh, mate! What kind of level headed dung is this? Seriously though, I’d rather a sticky patch to work out now than in the the thick of the Crimbo schedule or the run in where the top 6 will be jockeying for top four; not that such things are mutually exclusive. Just saying, early days (with three of our more explosive players currently out to boot Phil, Sadio, and Lanllana).
Before you all come charging with your knives, yeah, it was rubbish the way Phil handled all of it, but he is right, to him, it’s a job. If you design NB boots, and Adidas comes calling you pick up the phone too.
This is a very good article.
It’s been a disappointing few weeks and watching the team feels like repeated groundhog days. Everyone’s disappointed and things feel a little bit stale. But in my view the staleness is wholly down to not signing VVD and Keita, who Klopp rightfully saw as difference makers.
I felt all summer that FSG would give Klopp license to spend as he saw fit but was signing VVD and Keita dependent on some sales? Was Klopp handicapped by the lack of sales? Did Edwards give Klopp false hope that we could land at least one of VVD or Keita, even at the very last minute? Is this why Klopp didn’t have a plan B?
My feeling, looking at Klopp’s exasperation last night, is that maybe he isn’t to blame after all for the failure to secure defensive reinforcements. Rather than him being stubborn maybe he was simply let down by Edwards which is a plausible line of argument given the VVD cock-up. Just a note for the FSG critics – it would have probably cost 150m at least to sign both VVD and Keita this summer and they were already over priced at 140m (which we were apparently willing to pay despite not being successful). I think the fact that we were clearly willing buyers show that FSG aren’t scared to back their manager.
The past 4 results don’t actually change our position or objectives for this season. What they’ve done is undermine fragile confidence to compound the sickening blow to team morale because of Coutinho’s poorly timed transfer request and subsequent “strike”. Now that he’s decided he wants to play again, he’s out of fitness and form and is playing for himself and not the team. I thought his decision making was his headless chicken worst last night and he has a fair few games like that every season. Too often he plays for himself and not the team. Shooting on sight instead of passing to better placed team mates and so on. Sadly we need him because he does offer the threat other players lack. Once Mane is back he’ll hopefully be forced into a more playmaking selfless midfield role which should give the team better balance.
My honest opinion is that if Klopp can’t succeed at LFC then nobody can, such is the financial disparity between us, Chelsea and the Manchester clubs. We can’t spend crazy money every season because we have to comply with FFP. I don’t think Klopp’s skillset is suited to overcoming the parked bus which we face regularly but a trio of Mane, Salah and Firmino may be the key to compensating for that if they can all stay fit. What Klopp does well is being the underdog, and we are still the underdog, particularly in the top 6 games and the ko stages of the CL. He can also build teams and improve players, if given time.
The Premier League is an altogether different animal to the Bundesliga. Klopp knows that now. With the financial mismatch and the sheer number of rivals in England I think it’s actually unfair to *expect* Klopp (or indeed any manager) to win the title. The hope has to be that he can build a team that can start to knock on the door. We’re all desperate for number 19 but it won’t happen this season. VVD and Keita might have had us knocking on the door but once the transfer window shut it was clear that we had to recalibrate expectations.
What’s less clear, the more I think about it, is why we didn’t bring in alternatives. January may be too late to right the wrongs and even if we land VVD it won’t be until next season that he’ll be fully fit and firing alongside Keita. I do hope, if that happens, that Klopp is still around to see out the project. We may have frustrations with the manager, and no manager is perfect, but on balance he’s still the best man for this job.
lot of sense spoken on here,stick with the manager,he is good,rome was not built in a night,sack him,who do you get,players have to look in the mirror,have faith
Good article, but klopp deserves everything his getting form both love and abuse. Yes it his first time managing lfc in champ league and prem. No excuses this man had the chance to strengthen the team like the likes of the manchesters and chelsea but decided that there is no quality in this world better than vvd and naby, what a lot of rubbish is that. He chose this route and now he has to deal with the backlash. Letting sakho go and keeping klavan really!!!! Im not on the klopp out band wagon yet but to be honest his testjng my patience. From tactics and the inability to strenghten squad to his stubborness im really struggling here. He needs to adapt and work on different solutions to beat teams. We cant always oit run teams and thing u automatically win the game. Its about tactic of breaking down the opposition. Hope he does something to turn things around because i really dont want to be on the klopp out bandwagon.
A little perspective.For every Mourinho( say) that wins the league this season, there’s a Guardiola, Conte, Klopp, Pochetino and Wenger who won’t.Hell two of those won’t even be top 4 come may. It’s really tough. This league. It took 76 points to get 4 th. We have a top top manager. Let us trust him some more. We’ll be fine.
Rare words of wisdom.
Can I just point out it’s not been a disappointing few weeks. It’s been 11 days between City and Leicester. That’s 4 games in that period.
The problems were the GK, defence and a world class striker (we all know who they are, Auby etc).
The midfield was just fine.
Regardless of budget, he then got rid of Sakho, who’s played a blinder for CP, and spent the money on a bang average midfielder plus another £10m.
He’s then failed to deal with the GK (Ward, who doesn’t play, being the best of the 3), failed to recruit a CB and failed to secure a top striker. Strikers win leagues, ask Manure and Chelsea.
Given this is his Xth transfer window, how on earth do you absolve him of blame and incompetence.
He’s had the money, he’s had the windows, and he still hasn’t come close to addressing the problems that my nan (and many other mans) could identify.
I’m confused by your blind faith in him…
I always thought Rodgers had a great footballing knowledge and was a decent manager. he just couldn’t handle the pressure at the club and his man-management was poor.
But given, there was no Couts, Lallana and now Mane, we haven’t been that bad except for the City match und Klopp this season.
Perhaps the ones wanting a new manager should go and support Chelsea or Man City
The Rodgers comparison is obviously intended to be a criticism of Klopp. However, what it misses is the fact Rodgers had a successful – almost but not quite, legend defining – first two years. We’ve had a bad couple of weeks but we’ve made progress over the last two years and will do so this year. Everyone just need to calm down. Klopp has never promised – or previously delivered – immediate success.
Halle-fucking-lujah! A bit of common sense prevails. I’ve even stopped watching MOTD and Footy Focus for the dickhead views of the so-called ‘experts’.
I still think we’ll qualify for the knockout stages of the CL (and with our record, who knows after that!) and that we’ll probably finish 4th again. An FA Cup win, would be lovely too.
Bit of solidity this season – make sure we’re back in the CL next season, means we can build again and not seen as a ‘flash in the pan’ by potential signings.