Sam McGuire espouses the virtue of patience at Anfield this festive season with the gifts that Jurgen Klopp may bring yet to be delivered.
October 8th was more December 25th for Liverpool fans. The day the club officially announced Jurgen Klopp as their manager.
The self proclaimed normal one shouldn’t need an introduction but for those who aren’t familiar with him, he toppled the juggernauts of German football, Bayern Munich, with a smaller budget, a miniscule wage bill and a team with no world class stars. What he’d be tasked with at Liverpool isn’t too dissimilar to what he achieved at Dortmund. Outperform your rich rivals with a smaller budget. If any of the usual suspects, the Citys, Arsenals, Uniteds or Chelseas underperform he’s to take advantage of this and push them out of the top 4.
It’s not that straightforward though. Sadly Liverpool don’t appoint Jurgen Klopp and live happily ever after.
Much like Christmas Day it’s all about patience. As a child you get a present you really want and for some inexplicable reason your Dad’s ran out of the batteries the present needs to function to its full capabilities so you’re sat there looking at a toy you can’t play with, and it’s torture.
You’re ungrateful that you’ve even got it because it’s not working how you expected it to work.
As you get older these toys turn into electrical items; laptops and games consoles. It’s still a pet peeve of mine that when you get a new game for the PlayStation 4 you insert the disc and the game has to do an update to link with the latest patch for the game. It’s the initial part when you see the download start and it pops up on screen says ‘Download complete in 246 minutes’, that’s what breaks your spirit. It’s the same feeling you had as a child, you’ve got something new you want to play with, it’s in touching distance but you it feels so far away. I know it sounds dramatic but it’s the inner workings of most people. Patience is a dying art.
After the initial excitement around the Klopp appointment there seems to have been a drop off in the feel good factor surrounding the club. Fans expected instant results and victories against both Manchester City and Chelsea fed into this but a draw against West Brom sandwiched between heavy defeats to both Newcastle United and Watford have lead to many fans questioning whether Klopp can replicate his Dortmund success at Liverpool.
There’s a mass hysteria whenever Klopp comes out in the media and mentions how he’s not looking to make any signings in January. This after losing to the likes of Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Watford whilst only drawing with Southampton and West Brom. Belief in the manager starts to wane when it seems as though he’s backing a squad made up of average players.
Klopp isn’t stupid though.
He knows the squad isn’t good enough but you can’t go out in January and sign the 6/7 players needed. January is an inflated market with very little value for money and such an influx of players in the middle of the season can derail it. You’d be writing off the season in January as these new signings bed in. It’s not like the summer when you can sign players in July and your first completive game isn’t until the middle of August.
This point also leads into another I’ve seen Twitter mentioning lately. Does Klopp have a plan B to break down teams that sit deep like many seem to do in the Premier League. Of course there’s examples that can be used of Klopp getting his tactics wrong but with many journalists suffering from premature gegenpressing-jaculation it seems plenty of fans seem to think we’ve seen the Dortmund style being replicated at Liverpool. They’ve not.
Klopp hasn’t got the players to replicate that style. A high press is nothing more than a high press, it’s not the gegenpress his BVB side used to great effect. Klopp is learning about what he has at his disposal as he goes along. The luxury of a pre season wasn’t given to him. He’s not had a summer transfer window to buy ‘his’ players so he’s going about his business with the tools at his disposal.
Klopp hasn’t been able to field Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino at the same time. Injuries to the above three, Christian Benteke, Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson, Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings and Martin Skrtel hasn’t exactly made life easy.
They aren’t his players but he’s getting more out of them than Brendan Rodgers did. Under Rodgers Liverpool didn’t go to Stamford Bridge and come away with a 3-1 win. They didn’t go to the Etihad and walk away disappointed because the scoreline only read 4-1 to Liverpool. The same issues Rodgers had are the ones Klopp faces, the German doesn’t have a magic wand and he’s not had a transfer window to address the obvious issues within the squad. Klopp is currently mashing the buttons like when you play the new FIFA game. When you finally nail one of the tricks it looks like you’ve got this all figured out but it’s not easy to repeat and people are disappointed when you can’t do it time and time again.
Despite all of the expectation placed upon his shoulders, the injuries to practically the entire side and the fact he took over in October the German eccentric has managed to get Liverpool out of the Europa League group stages, into the League Cup semi-final and record emphatic wins against Chelsea and Manchester City. It may not be the gegenpressing, full throttle football you expected when he was appointed but have patience and I’m sure as Liverpool head into the 2016/17 season we’ll see a Jurgen Klopp side taking shape. He wasn’t a short term appointment after all.
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