Forget playing like Dortmund, Klopp needs to start afresh at Liverpool
Ever since the appointment of Jurgen Klopp as manager of Liverpool, (9/4 with Coral for a top four finish) it has been Borussia Dortmund this, Marco Reus that, “Gegenpressing” (the latter introduced by media commentators as a hasty afterthought following conjecture from more conciliary sources), name the obvious cliche.
While all of the above in a world where fairies and the Easter Bunny exist would be sweet, fans should be looking to other examples which might leave a fresher taste in their mouths.
When Klopp took over at Dortmund, it was 2008 and his “Gegenpressing” strategy was furtively fermenting; unfolding ever so gradually on the training pitches, phase by phase. Calculated, deliberate, well thought out.
That is because, in the space of a week, month, even a year, you cannot expect one group to completely change the way they perform their job, symbiotically, completely transposing paradigms. Slight tweaks and adjustments over the course of a year and Klopp’s players had changed tack without even realising such was the subtlety of transition.
Expect no different here, from Klopp. Evolution may be necessary, though Liverpool, overnight won’t become the exciting, free-flowing football team that many may be hoping for straight away. Even so, there is no guarantee that they will become like Dortmund were under the charismatic German.
For one, they don’t have the personnel. The 48-year-old will have his own thoughts, still very much in their infancy. After-all, he hasn’t seen, close up what he is dealing with yet. That meticulous nature will see him analyse every player within the club from the bottom up. Planning for the future.
He may have funds at his disposal, though no amount of money in the world is going to prise Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich and he is too principled to chase anyone from his old club. He may as well have signed a confidentiality waiver.
Whether Christian Benteke fits the bill, remains to be seen. He certainly isn’t a Lewandowski, and why should he be? There is no doubt he is effective, but in the style Klopp has played in before? Who says the German will use that style?
More often, managers will come up with ways of playing to accommodate and maximise the strengths of their personnel. Case in point, Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich. A derivative of the once much-hyped ‘tiki taka’ system which led Barcelona to multiple titles.
Discarded once he arrived at Bayern, recognising that football needs to evolve every five years and it is those who are at the forefront of change, who stay out in front. Life has similar symmetry. Was Guardiola going to get the best out of Thomas Muller or Lewandowski playing ‘tiki taka’? In short, no.
Muller has been a key component of Bayern’s success while the Spaniard has been at the helm of the German giants, while Lewandowski is arguably the best in Europe right now.
The message here? Don’t expect carbon copy, vintage Dortmund at Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers learned the hard way that square pegs resist round holes, no matter how hard he pushed.