The turn of the year hasn’t been kind to Jürgen Klopp and his Liverpool team. Before 2017 came around, Liverpool were riding high in second position in the Premier League just behind Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. Since then, the only win Liverpool have to their name is a FA Cup victory over League One side Plymouth – and it was narrow one at that
So what’s gone wrong at Anfield? And is Jürgen Klopp the man to turn it around? Most pundits and fans would probably say, yes. But it also doesn’t help when Anfield legends such as Jamie Carragher are slating Daniel Sturridge’s recent performances in an article by Metro.
Early on in the season, Klopp signed a lengthy 6-year deal with the Reds, with the board being quite vocal in their backing of the popular German manager. The enigmatic figure is tough to dislike – he’s the exact opposite of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho – becoming somewhat of a media darling. His quirky approach to answering questions, and obvious strong relationships with his players have helped him build a strong reputation as a great man-manager in his short time in England. But is this enough to steady the Liverpool ship? Some would argue, no. He certainly isn’t without his critics either.
Let’s have a look at the determining factors and his past experience at Dortmund to really look at this thoroughly.
Klopp managed to break Bayern Münich’s monopoly in Germany regardless of him losing his best players to Bayern every season. In 2010/11 he won his first league title with Dortmund, and they would go onto win the league the following season, too. In their second league winning campaign in 2012, Klopp and his Dortmund side delivered an impressive domestic double – the first in their history.
The next two seasons Dortmund would finish second to Bayern and a gap between the two clubs was starting to form. In 2014/15 the club had a disastrous start which saw them in the relegation places for much of the first half of the season. After the winter break it would be much different as Dortmund eventually climbed to fourth, but the magic had disappeared. Club captain Mats Hummels decided he also wanted to jump ship and head to Bayern and, well, Klopp’s time had come to end at the Westfalenstadion. As Klopp stepped down as manager, football columnist Kevin Hatchard documented in his post on Betfair that new manager Thomas Tuchel “would go on to benefit from some of the foundations Klopp had made” and continue in his good work at Dortmund.
The Liverpool job was a tough one to take on, but one that was made for Klopp. Brendan Rodgers had come so close to bringing the Premier League title to Anfield if it wasn’t for an untimely slip from Kop icon Steven Gerrard against Chelsea towards the end of that specific campaign. But Rodgers had the luxury of Luis Suarez to call upon – a player who had long left by the time Klopp took the reigns at Anfield. But his time so far has been relatively good until the current blip in form, which has led to quite a few sub-par performances.
So what can Klopp do to turn things around that other coaches can take pointers from?
Empower his players: A lot can be said for giving players the confidence to perform to the best of their ability. Dressing down a player doesn’t necessarily mean they will react in a positive manner. Every player is different. Klopp needs to lean on influential players such as Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip to get his players motivated to correct the recent slump.
Go back to the approach that got them there: They need to find out what they were doing right before Xmas and try and replicate it so that they can improve upon their form. Yes, he’s been without Matip as well as Coutinho but with the two back now, he will hopefully be wishing they can make a positive impact.
Instill a togetherness: Making sure a team is a cohesive unit is an important facet of team sports especially football. Players need to know that they can rely on their teammates, so things such as team building exercises can go along way to creating a bond between players and coaching staff amidst tough times.
We could continue to highlight all the basics teams would look to as the source of a problem in order to fix them but we came across a very interesting piece recently that grabbed our attention. Liverpool before Christmas statistically was way up on all stats related to work rate and ground covered. Much of this due to a demanding training regime at Anfield that insures exceptional levels of fitness. The article we came across was interesting because it highlights a subject that is rarely highlighted in the game = "Over Training".
Is over training part of the problem?: Through history, many players have documented how managers have punished players with extra training. Overtraining is a major problem for elite athletes and can often have adverse effects on performance, according to Exercisemed.org
The piece linked above and below by clicking the picture is a fascinating look at the negative effects to much training can have on players. So has the hunger left, energy left among other things due to a burn out at Anfield?.
Click the image for more on the effects of over training