The Big Names To Face Klopp Cull. Stan Speaks…
Firstly, I’m thrilled that Jurgen Klopp has joined the Reds.
A few trolls last week pointed out a tweet from April where I suggested that Liverpool FC wouldn’t get him. Well neither did 99.9% of LFC fans at that time, so excuse the pun but I certainly wasn’t walking alone on that one!
There have been a thousand columns on his smile, his dress sense, being the “normal” one etc etc but I thought I’d actually take a look today at who may and may not make the cut in the coming months and why.
We’ve all learned a new word this week, haven’t we!!! GEGENPRESSING!! One for the real football hipster, a foreign word, alluding to something exotic, fresh and new. Well Liverpool fans and old timers like me have seen this word in practice before, and actually it was fine-tuned in the 80s at Anfield by a certain Ian Rush.
As a young pro, Rushy was used almost at every club I played for as the epitome of the selfless front man. Not only a great goalscorer but a tireless worker who went and closed down defenders from the front, allowing midfielders to follow, nicking the ball back as high up the pitch as possible.
That folks is GEGENPRESSING. So nothing new there then at Anfield.
The key thing though is the personnel. The ability to have highly motivated, fit and mobile footballers who can do it game in, game out as part of their natural game. Luis Suarez, for example, would have had Klopp in a permanent state of football orgasm. He pressed high, often with incredible intensity which allowed Liverpool to unsettle teams so frequently that in their near title-winning season of two years ago most Liverpool players could sit on the half-way line, untroubled as Suarez, the whirling dervish, did his stuff.
That’s what Klopp likes, that’s what Klopp wants and that’s what Klopp will get, but who from the current crop makes the cut?
I’ll name several that will and several that won’t. The bad news first.
Benteke and Sturridge will almost have to reinvent themselves. Daniel can do it, make no mistake. but he’s going to have to prove his fitness to be in the manager’s long-term plans. As for Christian, I honestly don’t know if he’ll make it.
At Villa, and so far at Liverpool, he seemingly goes through the motions for much of the game before doing something magical, which keeps him in the team. He’s not a natural grafter (take Lewandowski for example – all action, mobile, always alive) so it will be interesting to see whether Klopp makes allowances for the lack of work rate or eventually, when LFC get into a European top four position, gets rid.
Adam Lallana is another player who for me doesn’t fit the profile.
Not because he’s not willing to work hard – he most certainly is – but he’s not the kind of attacking midfielder who will be quick enough to implement high intensity pressing into his game. He’s languid and not the quickest, and perhaps at 27 that part of his game isn’t going to come easily, so I suggest he may be someone else on the move in the next few windows.
Players, for me, who could take to his system like ducks to water include Markovic, who I’d expect to come from his Turkish loan at some point. He’s quick, sharp, mobile. Likewise players such as Danny Ings and Divock Origi. Part of the reason Ings was taken to Liverpool in the first place was his work rate and Origi, although young and raw, will have a manager who can have a huge impression on his career by “programming” him in the way of pressing.
Liverpool in recent years have always had energy in midfield with Henderson and Can, when he plays there, and full-back positions so there should be plenty of willing students for Klopp to teach, he’s not taking over a pedestrian Premier League side!
All managers like their own trusty lieutenants in the dressing room, their eyes and ears if you like, so I would certainly expect one or two Dortmund stars to make the journey into the Premier League, not only giving the manager that familiarity of style but to add significant quality in certain positions. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that if, in three to four years Klopp is still at the club that not one of the current central defenders is still making the daily trip to Melwood.
Liverpool have got the big name gaffer, now it’s time for him to have the money and ability to go for Hummels, Reus, Subotic etc.
It’s been reported he’s too respectful, too in love with Dortmund to make a raid on his former employer but that’s nonsense, a great manager wants great players today and tomorrow, and romanticism will give way to pragmatism when he sees the size of the job in hand but also its potential – so expect some behind the scenes calls already sounding out one or two.
In summary it’s very exciting times, with a charismatic manager, a settled backroom staff and some good players to work with at Liverpool, with the promise of new, quality signings to come. My one worry is still the transfer committee. If the four men weren’t good enough to recruit, motivate and get results before, then why are they now? I fully expect the committee to disappear ghost-like into the ether in coming seasons and for Klopp to become the benign dictator that Ferguson, Mourinho and Wenger are at their clubs.
One thing is for sure, it’s going to be very very exciting!