Klopp Needs Our Support Now More Than Ever

Klopp Needs Our Support Now More Than Ever

My 3 part series “The Klopp Project” discussed some of the context around the club’s current position and fortunes. Context is one thing, but the Spurs debacle at Wembley (Huddersfield result notwithstanding) put some things into perspective.

It is undeniable that LFC and, perhaps more pertinently, Jurgen Klopp stands at a crossroad. It almost beggars belief that we’re now broaching the subject of sacking Klopp. Especially considering it is only two years since the acclaimed, larger-than-life German walked into the club amid much fanfare.

The managerial hot seat: Sackings and Rafa 

In fairness, whilst personally delighted at the appointment of this box office manager, I did harbour some small reservations. Namely about his ability to lead Liverpool to the title, in light of his later struggles at Dortmund. Particularly in terms of player fitness records and the performance against defensive teams.

However, Klopp’s ability to build a winning team without being solely reliant on big spending bode well for the club. He felt like the right fit, and still does, despite some of the recent problems. Short of us finding the next Pochettino, and I honestly wouldn’t be able to name that person, I believe many managers would struggle. Especially under the very necessary financial restrictions the club operates within. I discussed this in “The Klopp Project” series.

Following on from last season’s stodgy form once the new year arrived, I made peace with a realisation. The realisation that it’s probably an unrealistic expectation for Klopp, or indeed any Liverpool manager, to win the title. It was good to see Jamie Carragher making similar observations recently. Carra should be commended for that attempt to manage expectations, even though his comments aren’t always helpful. Unless some sugar daddy benefactor comes in and bankrolls a huge overhaul, we are where we are. I’m not sure this is even possible anymore under FFP.

Therefore, unless there is a very good reason for sacking Klopp I feel to do so would be an absolute folly. (Possible reasons might be performance levels falling off a cliff, or back to back seasons outside the top 4). If Klopp cannot succeed at Liverpool, it’s likely that any other manager would struggle to do so. That would leave us with a pretty bleak, stark reality.

It worries me that sack talk has already started. We’ve crossed a dangerous point of no return and with each setback the calls will grow louder. Liverpool has one of the most active fan base in terms of media coverage. The reality is that very few people know what is going on at the club. We only have opinions. We cannot really influence decision making in terms of on-pitch performance. However, as momentum grows in a call to sack a manager, then, as we’ve seen with Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rodgers, supporters can have a real impact in forcing the owners’ hand.

I’ve heard calls for Rafa returning and I’d love to see him return to complete what was, in my humble opinion, unfinished business. Ironically, now would theoretically be a good time for him to return; Klopp would leave him a decent base to work with and things behind the scenes are far more unified than the madness Rafa experienced under Hicks, Gillet, Ayre and Purslow.

but I think that the chances of Rafa returning under the ownership of FSG are between zero and nil. He did not have a good relationship with Ayres or Purslow. Rafa is on record as saying that they don’t understand football. There is no doubt that these men poisoned FSG against the Spaniard. Had they not, I am sure he would have been re-appointed long before now. (If Rafa were to return, his enhanced media image, since his subsequent stints in England, may be a factor).

So who else is out there that would be willing, and possessing the gravitas, for the long term rebuild required at the club? And do we have a huge amount of confidence in FSG identifying such an individual given some of their previous appointments in various areas of the club?

The guys on the brilliant AI Pro “Under Pressure” podcast have demonstrated that the current underlying attacking performance of the team is close to title winning standard. We are creating high quality chances but the big problem has been chance conversion. This is not the stale, clueless, turgid football we saw towards the end of Brendan Rodgers’ tenure. Klopp is finding ways to tackle the parked bus.

At some point there surely has to be reversion to a mean output level that sees us score the goals our build-up play merits. Put simply, our play deserved more points than we have on the board, in spite of the defensive issues that remain.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting that critics of Klopp are citing Brendan Rodgers’ superior record and there’s no arguing with the facts. I do feel that Rodgers did benefit from a world class talent in Suarez who was reaching his peak performance levels. Suarez also benefitted from Coutinho and Henderson playing in positions that suited their game albeit in a different formation. We also saw Steven Gerrard enjoying his final swan-song in a role that brought out the best of his deep passing ability.

Klopp still has time to adapt his system and it will be interesting to see where he goes following the Wembley debacle. Also, the peak of Firmino, Salah and Mane is surely still to come, so exciting things potentially lie in wait if we are willing to be patient with Klopp. Of course all these things may never materialise. Football is a funny game after all, but as fans we need to give it a chance at the very least. Klopp is yet to exhaust all the possibilities open to him.

An unhappy fanbase

And yet the current dissatisfaction in the fan base is totally understandable and warranted. From the defensive issues that can be seen a mile off, to the lack of appropriate defensive signings in the summer (and by implication Klopp and FSG’s role in those affairs). Some big mistakes have been made despite mitigating factors in certain cases.

At present the narrative for the season is headed towards “a campaign of missed opportunities”. Much like the transfer window just gone. Missing top 4 at this stage in Klopp’s tenure would be an unmitigated disaster. It would be one step forward and two or three steps back on last season.

Following the Spurs game, the time for excuses is well and truly over as far as I am concerned. Klopp would admit that and I’m sure FSG would as well. Both parties need to step up. But that does not mean they should leave the club. Even if they did, we would still need patience to see the club back on its perch; it would not happen overnight.

A fresh narrative

However, the narrative is still to be written. I sense Klopp is under no illusions that he now needs to balance spending with player development. The Premier League is just too brutal and unforgiving for the patient approach he adopted in Germany. Klopp has been let down through under-delivery in both this year’s transfer windows by Michael Edwards. Klopp has spoken many times on the defensive issues, but it’s clear fresh bodies are needed. Coaching can only go so far. New players in defensive positions haven’t been too forthcoming. My next article will address this subject.

Despite all the problems last season we made top 4. Despite the problems this season we are still in top 4 contention and in a good position to reach the Champions League qualifying rounds. If you believe that we should be title contenders after failing to land Van Dijk and Keita (or any alternatives) last summer then you are more of an optimist than me! That said, to be out the title race already is simply shocking. All the same, expectations have only been raised because Klopp has already done a good job.

The Huddersfield result was a step in the right direction. Our finishing and game management showed the ruthlessness that’s been missing of late. Early season fixtures have been tough. Huddersfield marked the start of an easier run, on paper. I see promising signs Klopp is adapting to the difficulties of the parked bus. But there’s still a lot of work to do.

Conclusion

For now, the manager has to work with the players he has until January because, whatever the reason, the transfer window damage is done. But he has to be careful how he goes about it. Overhauling the entire back line or first XI could undo what relationships and cohesion have been developed. This would put the team in a far worse position. Klopp’s team selection this weekend points to his acknowledgment of this.

Klopp is a visionary but has shown he’s also a pragmatist in last season’s run in. We now need to see more of the latter. I believe he now has no choice but to show it. Being a highly paid manager, he has to show that he’s ruthless enough to make the necessary changes to salvage our season. My next piece will look at options available to the manager.

The fanbase can play a huge part here, in giving him the support he needs as he embarks on that process. There are a number of permutations available, but it is not going to be easy. If it works, then we are all winners.

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Comments

6 responses to “Klopp Needs Our Support Now More Than Ever”

  1. RED PHIL says:

    It may sound hard to accept for many LFC fans but Mr Klopp has had two full years to fix the defence and his spending, in that period, on our central defence is to get one free transfer player and someone I think cost about four million quid . . . and our defence is still atrocious. This make me think that he cannot correct these defensive issues. I’ve even seen rumours that he intends to bring in Navas, the Madrid reserve keeper, despite his aversion to crossed balls in Spanish football. If he doesn’t like coming for a ball over there then this league will be his idea of Hell! No, Mr Klopp, we need TWO new central defenders, a defensive midfielder and a top goalkeeper. Buying a keeper even less likely to succeed over here than our current ones is lunacy.

  2. Chan says:

    I was exited when Klopp was appointed. Dissapointed a tad that Rafa was not back but Klopp is not too bad. I do not expect Klopp to win the league in 2 or 3 seasons but expect overall progress, especially with our defence and keepers.
    What i had witness in these 2 years and 4 windows was absolutely disappointing, to say the least. My beef with Klopp is not so much of him not learning fast enough from his mistakes but he absolutely REFUSES to. I do not blame Lovren or Mignolet for their flaws, we and all the footballing world knows its there, i blame Klopp for selecting them, time and again despite the obvious. He did again vs Huddersfield and we got lucky, our defense was not really tested this time.
    How do we stick with a manager that refuses to learn and have such overated believe in limited players and self coaching ability ?
    Would Poch and Spurs be where they are today if their manager do not learn?
    Our predicament today is totally his piece of work. No one can answer these questions:

    1) when was the last time a winning team has a shitty defense and goalkeepers?

    2) if Klopp cant or wont fix this after 2 years , 4 windows and many millions of pounds later, what makes you think he can now?

    You know just because he grins well and gives bear hugs, it does not automatically makes him a good manager.

    Rafa won us stuff during his spell with us, are LFC fans allergic to trophies after all these years?

  3. MS says:

    The premise that’s it’s only been 2 years since Klopp walked through the door & therefore sack talk is unfathomable is a flawed argument.

    Its basis seems to be that of a bygone era when Fergie was given, relatively speaking, an inordinate amount of time to set the record straight.

    In modern football where the monetary stakes are much higher and football has become more business oriented, it’s laughable to think that Klopp should be given a free run for two years. We have seen the results of that attitude with Wenger.

    The second argument slipped in for good measure implies that there are no alternatives to Klopp. You mention that you honestly couldn’t think of another Poch. Just because you can’t think of one doesn’t mean there isn’t one, and it certainly does not mean that those charged with such tasks are unable to locate an upgrade. Had anybody really heard of Marco Silva before he arrived on these shores?

    The third argument about a sugar daddy being needed to win the title is utter bunkum, rectum talk and promotion of mediocrity for a great club like Liverpool. Leicester won it without the cash that others have. Have you forgotten that?

    If it’s predominantly a financial issue, explain why those that receive parachute payments for dropping out of the PL aren’t necessarily the ones that make it back in to the PL?

    How did Atletico usurp giants such as Real & Barca to win the league? Why is it that Atletico get further in the CL than so many clubs that are financially bigger than them?

    Spurs may not have won the PL but they have been doing significantly better than us in terms of league finishes and they are paupers in comparison to Liverpool.

    Yes, a sugar daddy would help, but your over emphasis on this being the predominant factor is a joke.

    You then fail miserably in an attempt to discredit the comparison people are making between Rodgers’ win percentage and Klopp’s on the basis that he had Suarez.

    Let’s look at that fallacious argument, shall we?

    (A) To discredit Rodgers’ points tally because of Suarez is in effect discrediting every manager’s record that has had a single world class player in their side. Fergie had a few during his 26 years in charge at United. Are we going to say that his record is questionable because he had world class players? Really? If that’s the argument, then whoever is making it needs to be detained under the Mental Health Act.

    (B) it’s worthwhile remembering that Suarez was not world class when he arrived at LFC. This is impliedly acknowledged by the player himself when he said that Rodgers “educated him to become successful.”

    If an implied statement is not enough let’s take a direct reference. Suarez said:

    “If it was not for Brendan, then I know I would not be the same player that you see at Barcelona today.

    “Such a big part of my education is down to him and his management.

    “Of course he works to make the team stronger but he really works on a one to one level with the players.

    “He will sit down with each player at the club, and work on where you can improve, where you can exploit opposition, he leaves nothing to chance.

    “He is a very intelligent man. If the players at his next club listen to his words, they will become better players for sure.”

    There is no need for Suarez to make such statements if they are not genuine.

    Furthermore, stats prove that Rodgers turned Suarez in to a world class player.

    In one & a half seasons under Dalglish, Suarez averaged 0.3 goals & 0.1 assists per game. Under Rodgers, the rate was 0.8 & 0.25 respectively.

  4. George Field says:

    Hi there, I think your article is dramatic and typical of most LFC supporters. The start to the season has been one of the toughest in 30 years and we have played more top 4 / champions from PL and Europe than at any other time in the opening set of games. Add to the fact we have one more point (needs double checking to be fair) than the same reverse fixtures last year then you can see all isn’t doom and gloom. Context is always key and I don’t see too much here. Also, take away a poor Tottenham performance and the performance with 10 men to City and our perceived defensive issues away from home would also drastically reduce. Non of this fits with the media agenda to stir so I don’t expect this to be raised either – bough Klopp pointed to these goals plus Watford (one clear offside) as context too. On the signings front I don’t agree with your assessment, we needed another winger to back up/compliment Mane and Salah has done that in spades, being the first ever signing to score 9 goals by this time of the season. Solanke is adored by Klopp and allowed Origi to go out and play regularly (whilst recouping nearly all the transfer fee in a loan fee with no option). Last time I checked we also signed Keita in which I think was a clever deal, a lot less than he would have cost in an open market and less than Liverpool offered in the summer to take him then – sometimes you just can’t make clubs sell I.e Liverpool and Phil so a great piece of business and let’s face it, with Phil staying and Lallana to come back in we didn’t really need him this summer anyway. The club also wanted Emerson from aroma but he ruptured is ACL and as Klopp said Moreno was the best player in pre-season. I think Robertson is a smart back up option much like when Spurs bought Davies and Trippier a few years ago. Right back we are fine with Clyne, Trent and Gomez. Obviously we need a first choice CH and didn’t get VVD but it was clear Saints just would not sell, at least we won the players vote to come here which is a big plus point. I can see why Klopp didn’t want anyone else, Lindelof has been awful for Utd, along with th shambolic Keane at Everton and though Sanchez has played every game for Spurs he is protected by two other quality CHs in a back 3, with 2 DMs in front. However you cut it playing CH for LFC is very difficult but exciting for us fans. Availability is key in transfers and I haven’t seen any CH that has moved to a club that would have improved us, Rudiger has also looked shaky at Chelsea and Klopp had him when he was younger at Dortmund so should know. I think everyone needs to relax and realise we have a great squad (Even Ox is looking good now – surprise surprise) and have made big steps in the right direction. Get behind the Manager and the Club because things are much better than Twitter and the Press will lead you to believe. YNWA.

  5. Ash Hebs says:

    Thanks all for the comments, I welcome the discussion points.

    Many of the points raised were addressed by the series alluded to in this piece. It’s difficult to get into the detailed nuances in an already longish piece. To do all the points full justice would probably require a podcast to allow more depth.

    Just to clarify on a few points. There are ways to overcome the financial disparity but clubs that do this are the exception rather than norm. It’s very difficult. The richest teams tend to have the best players because they can afford huge wages and transfer fees. Money talks. It’s that simple.

    Spurs have committed many years ago to a strategy which is now working for them. We’ve committed to a half way house because the pressure and expectation that surrounds LFC is incomparable to the expectations of Spurs who for decades were football nobodies. I very much doubt a Liverpool manager would get the same patience with fans to take the approach that Pochettino has. They’ve profited from buying good defenders and have unearthed a once in a generation home-grown striker.

    On managers, the Liverpool job is by far one of the hardest in world football with managers. It breaks managers and takes very special personalities to succeed. I don’t claim that there isn’t a better manager than Klopp out there but the job will be equally difficult if not harder for an unproven manager.

    The only area of blame I can truly pin on Klopp is the failure to buy at least one centre back and defensive midfielder this year. That was without question the biggest priority this summer. However I think Edwards is the biggest culprit, so cut Klopp some slack. If he fails to address this issue in the subsequent windows then it’s on him hands down.

  6. Ash Hebs says:

    I also wanted to comment on the fact that 2013-14 saw Brendan Rodgers benefit from a great deal of luck. The underlying tactical performance in that season was not as strong as scorelines suggested and was a big reason he came unstuck once Suarez departed. He deserves credit for finding a system that brought the best out the SAS but we had, from memory, a freakish level of joy from set plays and the team was fortunate to get ahead in games first, then pick teams off.
    The point I was making was that if we accept Rodgers developed the likes of Suarez, Sturridge and Hendo to their peak then Klopp can also do the same with the current players on the books. One can argue that the best is yet to come from this Klopp team – he’s already shown his ability to improve a number of existing players. Klopp is also trying to build something more sustainable, not something that falls apart as soon as we lose our best player.

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Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2017-10-29 09:54:34
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