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27 Feb 2017

'Massive' Fail: Gary Neville reveals 'shock' at Liverpool defeat and slates Klopp for pointless 'La Manga' trip

In the wake of Liverpool's poor 3-1 defeat against Leicester, Manc legend Gary Neville has questioned Jurgen Klopp's decision to take the squad on a mid-season jolly to La Manga.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Neville attacked Liverpool's apparent lethargy and lack of desire during the game, and scorned the trip to Spain:

"What were they doing in La Manga? I’d love to know. I expect massive energy from Liverpool - that’s what they’re about. They had 16 days off, but didn’t show that. The drop in energy was a bigger shock than the goals conceded".

Ten days ago, I criticised Klopp's decision to take his squad of soft, overpaid Nivea models on an undeserved holiday to the Spanish coast, and after tonight's dire performance, it's clear that the players' sun-drenched sojourn made zero difference.

The Leicester defeat proves once again that Klopp is a rigid, inflexible manager in every aspect of his job. He has not changed or grown since his time at Dortmund, and whether it's tactics, slow substitutions, reluctance to spend big in the transfer market, or rinsing players with double training sessions, everything is the same...including La Manga (!)

Klopp took Dortmund to La Manga five times during his time in the Bundesliga, so in his mind, whatever worked in the past, must work in the present. Well, that just isn't the case, and therein lies the problem. Instead of taking a new approach with Liverpool (i.e. learning from his past mistakes, and growing as a manager), Klopp has simply imported his outdated Dortmund approach into Anfield. As such, it is no surprise that the Reds are currently performing like the Dortmund of Klopp's final season.

I made these points last season, but as usual, no one wanted to see the reality. For example, in February 2016, I argued:

"In my view, Klopp ended his sabbatical too early, and based on Liverpool's results so far (and his decisions in a number of areas), he has learned little from his time at Dortmund. Liverpool's poor league form (6 wins in 17 games - the same win percentage after 17 games as Roy Hodgson, who got sacked soon after) is no coincidence; it's merely a continuation of Dortmund's form last season, and that's hardly surprising considering he's had no real time to properly reflect and learn.

"The proof is in the pudding: If Klopp had learned from his Dortmund experience, he wouldn't have immediately pushed high intensity gegenpressing, an approach that decimated Liverpool's squad and created a serious injury crisis. This approach also decimated Dortmund's squad, especially last season, when the constant physical rinsing of BVB's players finally came home to roost in a perfect storm of injuries, physical/mental fatigue, and damaging under-performance.

"Liverpool needed something different from Klopp, and if he'd had enough time to properly *reflect* on the follies of 'heavy metal football', he might've come up with a modified approach that fits with the physical demands of the Premier League. Instead, due, perhaps, to the time crunch, Klopp simply transplanted his Dortmund approach into Anfield, and so far, it has abjectly (and unsurprisingly) failed".


Bottom line: Klopp needs to evolve. No manager can adopt the same approach for an entire career and expect to be successful. Football changes, and managers must change along with it, and if Klopp is too stubborn to change, then like many before him, he will end up on the Anfield scrapheap.

The Premier League isn't the Bundesliga! Evolve or die. It's that simple.

* Neville's comments transcribed live



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