West Ham United 1 Liverpool 4: How Jürgen Klopp’s Reds Have Found The Smart Way To Win

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 4, 2017: Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates after his side's fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

IT’S no big secret, but for those that don’t know, I’m a massive advocate of the Rafael Benitez school of just winning games without having a nervous breakdown.

That said, no one was happier when Liverpool appointed Jürgen Klopp. It was a line in the sand, a marker, a show of intent that the club meant business, by far the biggest singing Fenway Sports Group have made since they took control of the club.

And yet…

Back to the Benitez analogy, in so much as foundations being the anchor to everything.

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People get Benitez wrong, the assumption that he’s merely an attritional manager who cares little for attacking football does him a disservice, the truth is he’s more than happy to let loose but only when he’s happy that his team can afford to.

Foundations in concrete, not in sand and so on, the confidence to take a knock and plough on, to remain calm and do the right things.

Benitez wouldn’t dare take the armbands off before he’d seen 100 laps, Klopp will happily lash the baby in the deep end and let it figure it out for itself.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 4, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with the supporters after the 4-1 victory over West Ham United during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rather than the controlled straightjacket of a watertight system, a Klopp team has been put out with a philosophy rather than an instruction book and been asked to learn to fly.

This isn’t to denigrate Klopp’s abilities as a coach, more to illustrate his belief in players to make decisions of their own accord.

And when they’ve got it right, they’ve got it spectacularly so, but when it’s not gone to plan we’ve failed miserably, hell or high water, feast or famine.

Shit or bust.

Until recently…

After a long learning curve this Liverpool side is slowly learning how to box clever and find a way to win without revving into the red on their speedometer.

Over the last three fixtures we’ve shown a maturity to not lose our patience when stifled, to take fixture when we’ve not been at our best and to not make a crisis out of a drama, today’s reaction to West Ham clawing one back only to restore the advantage pretty much immediately being a case in point.

It’s a slow learning curve, and we’ll no doubt experience more bumps in the road, but up the maturing, learning on the job Reds.

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  1. Well said

  2. It’s been a really mature week in football terms. We’ve beaten teams with a relative lack of pissing around and the wins have been no less satisfying for that. It’s good for all of our health.

    That third goal was the behaviour of a top side.

  3. David Spare

    We progress.

  4. Or, perhaps, we were never really as bad as the results suggested. The return of Mane was telling, and we have yet to see the return of Clyne, Lallana, and Coutinho. Social media brings out the worst in everyone, not only giving license to our own unfettered id but also works to whip up frenzied panic.

    For the most part, Spurs aside, we’ve played well all season and we are still well-positioned to consolidate our CL status and progress far into the competition this season – which was realistically always the goal for the time being.

    Supporters are always moaning about the players lacking spine, but then turn to jellyfish at the least setback.

    • 100% right

    • Also, I was reflecting during the game how we easily forget that the opposition is a thing. 11 talented, fit professionals doing their best to thwart what we want to do.

      We win 4-1 here and yet I thought we were ordinary for most of the game (as Neil said – great in moments). I’m not sure how much worse we were against Spurs except that the individual mistakes made here (Klaven doing a Lovren 1st half, losing the ball cheaply ahead of them hitting the post, Joe Gomez making a hash of marking twice, giving the ball away cheaply etc.) went largely unpunished by a poor West Ham team. Spurs made us pay.

      A 4-1 away win is a fantastic result – we should celebrate that without thinking we are the best team in Europe and will win every trophy now. A 4-1 away defeat is an awful result – we should pick through the bones of that without thinking that Klopp doesn’t know what he’s doing/our players are shite/we should send Lovren death threats.

  5. Respect Andy Heaton: For someone digging into Rafa’s style, you have been the vast majority of time really fair towards Klopp’s ideals.
    And the comparison between Klopp and Rafa fits well, I think. For the first time I also feel Jürgen as well as the whole club is better prepared for a winter break with Lallana & co coming back.
    The winter break is still a major reason, why it takes “so long”, next to the complex system.

  6. Very good game, and a win always helps.

    I was really happy to see the team try different approaches and for once we did the sucker-punching.

    Salah’s goal was as professional and incisive as any I have seen in the past. And really very happy to see the Ox score his goal and run towards the away fans.

    The Away Fans get just as much credit as I loved hearing them on the telly, give it to the West Ham fans. It’s been a while hasn’t it.

    The way we played today (barring Migs’ brain-farts, and Gomez’s defensive mistakes) is what I expect this team to be delivering each time with Klopp at the helm, not the fucking sideways and backwards passing when you run out of ideas.

    Fuck the hammers. Injuries and what not, they had everything going for them until we scored that first goal and then hit them back for the 57 second (third) reply. That is what past Reds would do to you if you hit them, they hit back and hard.

    Let’s hope the teams tomorrow yield a favorable result for us, for once, and that the Reds return without injury or drama from the break.

    I’m taking this one game at a time, as this type of performances need to be repeated/consistent. Very good job Jurgen and team!

    Up the Reds!

  7. Favorable Results the last two games @the expense of 2 notable players.Lovren & Henderson seem to be the weak links in this Liverpool squad.From hence forth,I hope Klopp can find a way to pair down Matip & Klavan As His CB’s.Moreno was Solid @LB But l wouldn’t mind to see Robertson given a go now & then.

  8. There’s definitely something in this. I think the symbolic nature of the defeats to City and Spurs that cut so deep.

    The injuries really do warrant mentioning as a form of mitigation. Every side gets injuries but ours have been to key components of the side.

    Can and Wijnaldum was an interesting midfield unit last night. Would quite like to see that again. I’m in no way denigrating Henderson as I’m actually a big fan of his, but it’s always about options.

  9. MunchingGladbach

    Great piece Andy. Yes, maybe there’s a change going on. Yesterday I was thinking when West Ham scored that the match might go the same way as Bournemouth away last year – 2-0 up at half-time against opposition who had looked vastly inferior, and then early in the second it all started to crumble. That third goal was so big. Destroyed my pessimism.

  10. Feel there’s a little of the rose tinted glasses here over Rafa. When we had 2 holding midfield players every home game against all and sundry, we would have to be so far ahead before it got exciting. With the talent we had at times the entertainment could have been better and the League positions better overall. Ferguson was so good because he dared to win rather than accept the draw or countenance a defeat.

    • Thing about that Rafa team at its peak. Absolutely brilliant. Yes he did play with 2 defensive midfielders but one was more often than not Xabi Alonso who orchestrate the team from there. He was a great manager attack by the press, at a difficult time in liverpools history. I’m not sure what else you could have wanted from the man. We won things, we nearly one a lot more things. His job is to win football games. I would say he did that job very well.

      • Under Rafa (and I’m thinking 08-09 here) we missed a top notch player who could unlock masses defences in the style of Mane or a prolific winger who could get goals like Salah. Add that type of player to the 08-09 team and I’m sure we would have won the league, even if we were playing two holding midfielders against everyone.

  11. How could you be the national champion when you never played me?

  12. Andy, please, never apologize for reminding those who helped move Rafa away , of who we had , and lost, for many reasons, he was/is capable of enabling a strategy that progressively affects the whole club, he is a manager, whereas Jk is a “coach” with (by own admission) little knowledge or interest in the workings of the rest of the club outside of his direct responsibilities , which no doubt he is committed to, the win @ wham was not “outstanding” given the home teams problems, wham filled the middle, however, yet Lfc, without creating the glut of chances of previous games, controlled the midfield, & the game rather like the way we used to play away in europe.. on a good day, and with players available such as Mane & Salah, working for the team, AND able to break at speed, is a potent weapon, I wrote after the spurs debacle that its ridiculous to write of a team so early in the season, as some fans, have/had, the people starting 18 nov will sort everyone out, including the so-called “champions elect” … something “modern” is how fans & pundits year after year, decide that the early leaders will “walk it”…. and how often those fans fail to admit their mistakes when, often, they are wrong… good article!

  13. The best team is one that works within a general system but allows individuals to make changes when needed within & to win games … what I call “intelligent socialism” :)

  14. nosredneHnadroJ

    True. And consequently, damn this international break. Momentum will need to be regained rather than used to help vs Saints.

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