The Liverpool rebuild: a task too big for Klopp

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It usually takes a while for the mainstream journalists to cotton on. The 2-5 defeat this week was a moment when even the world’s most self-satisfied ostriches raised an eyebrow above the line of the sand.

Jurgen Klopp’s first great Liverpool era is over” shrieked Chris Bascombe.

Liverpool may even struggle to qualify next season” simpered James Pearce.

“Liverpool have to address their midfield failings” patronised Henry Winter.

Well, no shit.

These things have been obvious to most of us since August. Liverpool have been consistently out run, out fought, out thought and out played. They even had a 6 week break in the middle to sort stuff out. But came back worse.

What isn’t obvious is how to fix it. The task is a large one. I have become convinced a full rebuild is required. 8 to 10 players out, 6 to 8 players in. The team needs new leaders, new standard setters, new ideas and new legs.

It’s also not at all obvious (to me) that Klopp is the right man for the rebuild. He has never rebuilt a team before, after all. Just as the team’s successes were Klopp’s successes, the team’s failings this year are Klopp’s failings. Just as he created the mentality monsters, he created too the mentality minnows.

For the rebuild, five things need to be in place.

First, we urgently need to appoint a good and strong Director of Football, and put in place a structure and personnel for recruitment that works independently from Klopp. This doesn’t mean at odds with him. It means going back to what worked before. Using scouting and data to identify profiles of players that fit how we want to play. It means if Player A doesn’t work out, there is a Player B, C and D waiting in the wings. It doesn’t mean buying players who had good games against us recently, or players the assistant manager is personally invested into.

Second, we need new leaders. New culture and standard setters. For all that Henderson and Milner have taken the praise for these things (often quite painfully highlighted to obscure their failings at the actual football thing) – now things are going badly they must take their share of the blame. The team we have seen this season lacks leadership on the pitch. They have capitulated time and time again. The leadership has been woeful. Take the financial hit on that absurd Henderson contract if you have to.

Third, we need lots of money. You’d be right to be hopeful this may arrive, even after John Henry could finally be bothered this week to offer some clarification of his intentions. You’d be right to be sceptical that it won’t. You’d be right to forsee the tweet sitting in Paul Joyce’s drafts that Liverpool’s expected big summer never quite materialised for [reasons]. Kid me once…

Fourth, we need new legs. We need runners and physicality in midfield.

Fifth, we need a new head or two. The Pep Lijnders experiment has failed. That plan is no good. It makes Ardiles’ Spurs look compact. Ditch it, ditch him, move on.

These five conditions are not black and white, not mutually exclusive, not exhaustive. It is possible to do a decent rebuild without the super nerds running the show. You don’t need to spend Chelsea type of money to become competitive. (In fact that much money may be a hinderance). You might be able to get another song out of some of tired legs like Fabinho and Matip. (Though I doubt it).

But I don’t think you can do enough of the things we need, meet enough of these conditions, with Klopp.

He is too powerful now to cede power and authority to a third-party DOF.

He is too attached to the leaders (as he sees them). He won’t let Henderson go quietly into the night. He will probably want Milner around.

He is too nice to play hard ball with FSG and demand they cough up a slice of the fortune he has helped them amass. (If I were them I would think hard before letting Klopp and Pep spend my money too).

He is too invested in our weak legs to let enough of them go. In Fabinho, Elliott, Gomez, Robbo, Firmino. (I could go on…)

He is too involved with Pep’s tactical disasterclasses.

He is too loyal to the wrong people, the wrong ideas. It all feels like a bridge too far for Jurgen. I really hope I am spectacularly wrong.

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  1. I have waited for someone to write a piece like this since that unfortunate night against Real Madrid and it’s here. I have been a Liverpool fan for 19 years, I seen the storms and most recently, sunny skies. I have followed this team through it’s unbearable patches and I can say with a degree of certainty that Klopp is not clueless. First of all, life isn’t black and white, there are days (in our case, seasons) when things will not just work out. No matter how precise or much is invested, returns are not always guaranteed.
    I don’t want to mention the aches of managers past, in their attempt to wake the sleeping (if not in a comma) giant, Liverpool, they did all they possibly could to take us to glory days that were so gone that it felt like 2 eternities ago. Klopp walked through those doors at melwood and he said “I want us to change from doubters to believers” and he had the courage to say “Liverpool will be celebrating a title in 4 years”. I don’t have crystal ball beneath my bed right now to see if I am right but I am so certain you had a bowl of popcorn, sat on a sofa and laughed your gut out watching him say those words. Guess what! He delivered not just 1 title but all a football club could possibly win, breaking countless records on the way and serving journalists hilarious punchlines at his press conferences.
    No doubt, certain elements of our title winning seasons are no more, a lot of things that went our way without the slightest (feather weight like) effort seem to go the opposite even after these players give their all, but if my memory serves me right, we have had to deal with injuries to key players and exhaustion (physical and mental) giving the ones fit the chastising of their careers. Not so long ago (last season), the whole world raved and marveled at what this team was trying to pull off, the greatest “trophy heist” (as I called it) Great Brittain has ever seen. We fell short but won so many hearts ( I hope we didn’t win your heart, because we don’t need it).
    One step at a time, a team was built “one none wanted to play against” with Klopp at the helm. The dark and stormy nights of this season has had its roar, the cut, bruises and humiliation of Molineux, Amex and Anfield ( Vs Madrid) have left us battered beyond any association with bragging rights. Hell, even those across Stanley park are not as disappointed as Us, why do you think that is? ( no need to think) this team has raised the bar of success so high that anything short of that seem like disaster, guess who captained the ship? (save yourself the stress), JURGEN KLOPP. It irritates me when people like you sit at the comfort of your desk or behind air conditioned screens to say all the rubbish you do, if you know better, why not try out with a team ( ask Gary Neville how that went), if you are all geniuses as you portray, go to the touchline and slug it out. Talk is cheap and empty vessels fill the ears most.
    The season is not over ( for those of us who are believers, it’s just starting) if you can see beyond your nose. Klopp and his backroom staff will pick every shattered piece of this season left and build another team that our hearts deserve, we believed him then, how much more now? These players have given their all ( a few more than they can), some will be moved on and more brought to feel, experience and be a part of what Liverpool football club is all about (passion, never say die, togetherness and success). not all will understand this, but This is OUR STORM, we will walk on in it with hope in our hearts, because at end of it is a GOLDEN SKY. ✌️


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