Liverpool Football Club is one of the richest clubs in the world in terms of the Football history they have. But for a long time, history has been their biggest aspect to brag about. After the dominance in the 1970s and 80s, trophies were extremely hard to come by. And even after that remarkable 2005/06 season where they won the Champions League in an amazing final, their Trophy cabinet was not troubled much. They came awfully close to winning the Premier League in 2013, but the dreams slipped away and they heart-achingly missed out on that opportunity. However, things have changed for good, slowly but surely, since the arrival of certain Jurgen Norbert Klopp in Anfield. And here, we will be discussing what makes him one of the best managers in football currently.
Path to glory
Klopp came into the limelight during his managerial stint at Borussia Dortmund. During the latter part of that spell, Dortmund was exceedingly good. They thrashed Real Madrid in the semis, but lost a close contest to Bayern in the finals. When he took over Liverpool in 15/16, they were just mid-table side who turned up on days but were highly inconsistent. They only finished in the top 4 once in 6 years before Klopp’s recruitment. Although he finished the first season with 60 points, finishing 8th, Liverpool has been in the top 4 in the past 6 seasons (including 21/22). So, it is fair to say that Klopp has been at the core of Liverpool’s glorious resurgence.
Klopp’s Style of Play
Klopp is an eminent exponent of Gegenpressing. It’s a strategy invented by Ralf Rangnick in which the team, after losing possession of the ball, immediately attempts to win back possession, rather than falling back to regroup. Liverpool under Klopp has excelled at pressing and making lives difficult for their opponents. His style of play relies on pace and intensity, based on pressing and counter-pressing. He regards counter-pressing as the best playmaker in the game. He exudes passion and charisma, which helps his player to imbibe his strategy and philosophy. During his reign in Liverpool, his side has lacked creativity in midfield. However, his midfielders make up for that by pressing, making blocks and interceptions, and controlling the game. He has built the attack around his wingbacks and forwards. They have done their job aptly, making Liverpool one of the most daunting sides going forward.
What makes Klopp a top-tier manager is his ability to bring the best out of his players – 20/21 is the perfect example. Van Dijk, who was instrumental in their Premier League title after 30 years of drought, missed most parts of the season. Players like Alcantara, Jota, Henderson, Keita, Matip, Gomez also missed a considerable number of matches and yet Liverpool matched pound for pound against their opponents to finish third. Klopp fielded a total of 20 different center-back partnerships last season, touted to fail miserably. Yet he turned what could have been a disaster class into a master class, utilizing whatever resources left at his disposal.
Worth every Penny
Another fascinating aspect of his management is that he doesn’t spend as much. In the last five seasons, Liverpool has spent $201.34 million on signings (profit deducted). In that same period, 10 clubs from the current season of Premier League have spent more than them, with two Manchester clubs splurging around $600 million. Thus, Klopp beautifully encapsulates what Liverpool is all about – a club built on the foundations of working-class people. His passion and investment in the betterment of the club have resuscitated faith, confidence, and a sense of belonging and ownership back to the club.
He has astutely assembled a great group of players playing mostly Klopp’s way. Meanwhile, he is flexible enough to adapt according to situations and oppositions. Klopp has brought immense passion, flair, and steel in Liverpool’s style of play, entertaining millions of fans and terrorizing oppositions, and it doesn’t look like stopping any time soon.