A new atmosphere sweeps across Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp starts life as a Premier League manager with a difficult trip to Tottenham on Saturday. Liverpool will want to forget Brendan Rodgers as quickly as possible but in achieving that, they need to resonate the kind of performance Brendan Rodgers knows how to easily get from them whenever they face Tottenham.
Brendan Rodgers may have had 99 problems at Liverpool but beating Tottenham was never one of them; he lost only one of his six league meetings against Tottenham as Liverpool’s manager, winning the last five in a row.
Jurgen Klopp has fascinated, blushed and blown most away with his charm. The excitement in Liverpool is palpable and who would blame them, they finally have a world class manager in Klopp (and that is no bant at previous managers.)
He has, so far, been saying all the right things but honeymoon is over, it is time to walk the walk in this marriage. The euphoria can be blinding but Klopp would be shrewd in looking out for certain issues that could possibly define his Liverpool’s tenure.
Exciting is good, Cavalier is destructive
Jurgen Klopp comes with the reputation of being one of (if not) the most exciting coach in the world given the way he built his Dortmund side to play. In 238 league games in charge of Borussia Dortmund, Klopp’s team scored 469 goals, averaging 1.97 goals per game.
He has built his teams on a simple philosophy of attacking and defending high up the pitch, moving fast into spaces and unleashing a high amount of speed on opponents. Liverpool have also been here before with Brendan Rodgers, scoring a 101 goals in 2013/2014 but failed to win the league due to an imbalance. While they scored freely, they also couldn’t stop opponents from scoring and ended up conceding fifty goals – an amount that no league winning side have ever conceded.
Jurgen Klopp will almost certainly play the same way if his antecedent is anything is to go by. Not only because he does not know any other way of playing but he is also obliged to, based on expectation.
However, it will be naive if he thinks he can get away with playing such a style. Let’s face it, Liverpool do not have the exceptional talents in playing the “outscore your opponent” card anymore. Brendan Rodgers almost got away with it largely because of Luis Suarez’s brilliance but the departure of the Uruguayan is a clear indication that Liverpool have lost quality more than they have gained in the past two summer transfer window despite the huge amount spent.
Jurgen Klopp will have to do away with some form of idealism and employ a bit more pragmatism by placing much emphasis on defending which antecedents have shown that he struggles with. Only twice in his seven years at Dortmund did his team concede below 37 goals and both seasons they ended up league champions.
While Klopp may want to excite everyone with high pressing attacking football, he must also pay attention to the defensive line and figure out a way to stop them from shipping in goals all so frequently and easily.
Dortmund is not Liverpool and the premier league is not the Bundesliga
Certain corners in Liverpool share a strange belief that they play the Dortmund way or Dortmund play the Liverpool way which makes Jurgen Klopp a perfect match for them. Before bringing into context the fact that the Premier League and Bundesliga are two different terrains, it is worth mentioning that the personnel present in both sides are entirely different – in class and quality.
It is erroneous to think or suggest that Liverpool have a better squad than Dortmund just because they cost more. Brendan Rodgers may have spent £291.5million in his three years at Liverpool but only few of the 31 players he brought in would find first team action at Dortmund. What Liverpool have is an overpriced squad with few top class talents in their ranks.
Jurgen Klopp must realise what he have right now at Liverpool is not what he had at Dortmund and that means that he must find a system that suits his talent pool.
Speaking of system, it is important to note that clubs in the premier league and Bundesliga employ a different style, culture and approach. In terms of play, the German league is more open and bottom sides usually do not resort to extreme tactics just to pick points. However, limbs would be cut off just to earn a point in the premier league and the physical nature is second to none in Europe.
Jurgen Klopp must accept that he may have to change his style or approach if things go wrong at Liverpool.
It is still a few months away but it would be interesting to see Jurgen Klopp plunge into the transfer market in January. There is a possibility that he isn’t too happy with the squad he has inherited from his predecessor because top managers usually don’t. Only one or two players in that squad possess the ability to take Liverpool to where they want to be while others have just enough ability to keep them where they are.
Jurgen Klopp will receive the kind of financial backing he has never received in his managerial career and so there is no reason for him to resort to scouting and transforming low-profile players into stars as was the case at Dortmund.
Although the temptation to continue in that path may exist due to the success that was achieved with it at Dortmund but Jurgen Klopp needs to understand the Bundesliga is a conducive environment for players to develop and mature. The Premier League, however, is unforgiving in that regard. It is a difficult environment for youngster or unknown names to grow and develop as there is an immense pressure on them to turn in immediate result.
While the demand for immediate result in the Premier League stifles growth of players, it has also driven clubs hysterically into the transfer market. A record £870million was spent by premier league clubs last summer and that doubles that of any other European league.
It is a league where money is thrown at problems and when Jurgen Klopp dives into the transfer market, the expectation from Liverpool will be that he gets marquee signings. The club will be wary of promising talent given how they failed to attain expected height under Brendan Rodgers.
Klopp will not be having money problems at Liverpool but with that comes another problem – avoiding throwing money around and then ending up with overpriced, under-performing players.
Finally, Jurgen Klopp’s CV will be severely tested at Liverpool, one can only sit back and enjoy the ride.
Follow Joseph Bassey on Twitter – @akajoebass