In Toon Today: Kloppmania.
Welcome to Liverpool FC – from the city who brought us Beatlemania: extreme enthusiasm for the Beatles pop group, as manifested in the frenzied behaviour of their fans in the 1960s, the city who brought us Kleptomania: the inability to refrain from the urge to steal items and is done for reasons other than personal use or financial gain, and now the city that brings us Kloppmania.
Who Manages Them:
Jurgen Klopp (Pictured above: Klopp discusses tactics with Jose Enrique and Danny Ings), played over 300 games for Mainz then went on to manage them for 7 years, spending the same amount of time at Dortmund and now Liverpool following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers in early October.
He’s had some adversity, relegated with Mainz and resigning after failure to get them promoted at the first attempt and the 2014-15 season at Dortmund, ending out of the CL places and with a cup final defeat to Wolfsburg and resignation.
Generally he has been successful though, at Mainz a first ever Bundesliga season and UEFA Cup appearance, at Dortmund two Bundesliga titles followed by a Champions League final and two German cups.
The stats tell only part of the story with Klopp though, his footballing philosophy and general approachability have entertained the Bundesliga for a decade and look certain to do the same in the PL if his first couple of months are anything to go by.
He was the pioneer of ‘gegenpressing’ in Germany, countering the counter. When you lose the ball you rush to win it back because the player who has just won it for the opposition is at his most vulnerable before he has proper possession and his head up, but if you don’t win the ball back quickly you drop back to a compact formation.
It is also important to remember that his style has evolved over time, his powerful and high-speed football at Dortmund is already taking shape at Liverpool but he is adaptable and has tried both 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3:
“Winning is important, but so is how you win and how you play the game, I believe in a playing philosophy that is very emotional, very fast and very strong."
Full-throttle football he amusingly called it and his press conferences are as entertaining as his team’s football, he told his Dortmund team at half time once:
“Since we’re here anyway, we might actually play a bit of football.”
He does have that little bit of vanity Liverpool need as well, his 2012 hair transplant is something he can discuss with Liverpool’s Nivea Men while they throw towels around their dressing room and talk about moisturising. So he sounds like the complete manager. But not quite, he doesn’t know it all. When he got the Liverpool job he said:
“I was never a guy for an easy way, this is the biggest challenge in football."
Welcome to Newcastle Jurgen. Liverpool is a piece of cake compared to this.
Who Have They Signed:
Summer signings Joe Gomez and Danny Ings won’t be playing today with long-term injuries and free transfer goalkeeper Adam Bogdan will probably be back on the bench after his midweek cup appearance.
It is likely that the scousers’ other summer signings; free transfer James Milner and big money buys Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Clyne and Christian Benteke will all play.
‘James Milner: Boring? Not in this photo’
Clyne was described as “the best defensive right-back that we’ve got in England" by former manager Neil Warnock, the sort of recommendation that can kill your career but he’s already approaching 250 professional appearances at 24, so he’s got loads of experience for a young player. His four goals in those appearances probably mean that he’s as good a bet for first goalscorer as Sissoko.
Roberto Firmino was laughingly bought for £29million, rumours that Hoffenheim hadn’t heard the ‘20’ bit and were stunned when the cheque came through were never officially denied and the statement that he “adapted to life in Germany well, which suggests he can settle on Merseyside" was a bit bizarre, though both places are known for their sense of humour.
Christian Benteke will probably be the biggest threat to us winning three points, of the new Liverpool signings. He’s a big, strong, powerful through the middle centre forward, just like Mitrovic. Except Benteke can run.
Who Have We Seen Before:
James Milner played in Toon during a 4 year career after a £3.6million transfer as a raw teenager from Leeds. He matured slowly, always a hard worker and fully committed to the team, no mean feat at SJP, though the end product was largely missing from his game.
That lack of genuine class continued after his £12million move to Villa and a surprising £28million move to Manchester, given his overall talent, his lack of game time prompting a summer free transfer to Liverpool.
A player who completely divides opinion, some point to his total commitment and selfless hard work for him being the first name on the team sheet, others point to his lack of pace, quality and goals as reasons to be bemused by his continued appearance on all the world’s top footballing stages.
He has settled in well at Liverpool, playing either in defensive or attacking midfield, out wide or through the middle, he’s scored a couple of penalties and was captain for the midweek cup win at Southampton.
MOTD once said that every team needs a James Milner and that may be true…if you don’t have any you end up like Holland with no one prepared to do the graft… if you’ve got too many James Milners you end up like Scotland, everyone will do the graft but nobody knows what to do afterwards, so I suppose there is only one James Milner. And that’s enough.
‘Jose Enrique: Got plenty of time on his hands’
Jose Enrique still plays for Liverpool although you won’t see him today. Our ex-left back hasn’t been seen at Anfield since Kenny Dalglish left and it seems a long time since he ended up in goal at SJP with 52,000 singing “we’re in the top four."
He’s only 29 now and I don’t think it would take much to coax him back to SJP on a free transfer seeing as we don’t currently have anything resembling a left back. We can admit that he was right, our club has no ambition, he can admit that he was wrong, staying at NUFC won’t damage his career, quite the opposite in fact. At least when he was here he had a career.
How Will They Do This Season:
They’ll do better with Jurgen Klopp in charge than Brendan Rodgers but to be fair to the Irishman, Klopp has inherited a squad with plenty of strength in depth.
Up front the Reds should score more goals; Benteke, a more experienced Origi and support players like Firmino and Coutinho to cover for the injury prone Sturridge and they don’t have to rely on shirkers like Balotelli.
They may concede less as well, at the back they don’t have to pick Lovren if they don’t want to, which removes one liability, though Mignolet still makes the odd stupid mistake like holding onto his balls for too long.
If the midfield can adapt to Klopp’s style, seven wins out of the last eight suggests they can, there is no reason that Liverpool can’t claim a top four spot and any of the cups by the end of the season.
Are We Going To Win:
I looked at the Sky Sports website on Friday and there were two headlines side by side:
“Problems at Newcastle" and “No Limit to Liverpool Success".
Not very encouraging for us in black and white then. It’s not all doom and gloom though, Liverpool are looking fitter and more up for it and their movement up front may prove to be far too good for us, but if you get at them they still make mistakes.
Here is my preferred team:
The key is whether we can be arsed to get at them. Though the Reds have won away at Chelsea 1-3, City 1-4 and Southampton 1-6 recently, they have struggled at home when they have more possession and we will no doubt have as many players behind the ball as is legally possible.
I would hope that Steve McClaren will remember that when we have won this season, we have had two men up front and Wijnaldum has been involved in the attacking play, I hope that this week’s ‘feisty’ training has been more link-up than punch-up, more play-up than give-up.
Steve McClaren said this week about keeping his job:
“I wouldn’t ask for guarantees and I wouldn’t expect to receive that.”
Well I hope he can guarantee that we are a lot better than we were last week.
Howay The Lads.