12 Feb 2016

Anfield Shocker? Jurgen Klopp makes disturbing revelation about 'exceptional' £9m Liverpool star

After watching almost five months of interviews/press conferences, it's becoming increasingly clear (to me) that Jurgen Klopp failed to conduct the requisite due diligence on Liverpool/English football, and the latest evidence of that is his surprising revelation today about the allegedly 'exceptional' Tiago Ilori.

In his pre-Aston Villa press conference today, Klopp admitted:

"Tiago Ilori. When I first came here I didn’t know he was a Liverpool player to be honest. Of course not, he was at Aston Villa".

Klopp also made the following admission in January:

“When I came here, I didn’t know there were two rounds in the semi-final of the Capital One Cup".

Some fans may find this lack of LFC-related knowledge endearing, but I personally find it disturbing. How is it possible for a potential Liverpool manager to not know about £9m-rated Ilori?

Rudimentary research on the squad (achievable by anyone with a computer) would've revealed Ilori's status, and I find it concerning that Klopp signed for LFC without conducting such basic due-diligence.

It's also concerning that Klopp didn't know the finer details of the League Cup. What other important things did Klopp miss about Liverpool before taking the job, and how have these things impacted on his impact at LFC?

Some fans may dismiss this as a minor issue, but in my view, it's symptomatic of something I perceive to be serious, i.e. Klopp ending his sabbatical too early and rushing into the Liverpool job. After announcing his 12-month sabbatical on June 1st, 2015, Klopp told reporters:

"I feel below average. After seven intensive and emotional years, it makes sense to take time to take stock...before me and my coaching team embrace a new challenge, fresh and highly motivated".

Just four months later, Klopp took the Liverpool job two months into the season (i.e. no preparation time), and based on his knowledge gaps, it seems clear to me that he rushed into the role without doing the proper research. Seriously, how is it possible to recover from 'seven intensive and emotional years', and reflect on that period, *and* properly research every aspect of LFC in just four months?

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. Last season, for example, Klopp presided over BVB's worst season in living memory, and for much of the year, the club were hovering in or around the relegation zone.

Liverpool's poor league form under Klopp (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.

Given Klopp's pedigree, success, and supposed genius man-management ability, Liverpool should've - at the very least - mounted a serious *challenge* for a top-four place this season. After all, Klopp - as fans have insisted since day one - is a significantly better manager than Brendan Rodgers, but if that's the case, why are Liverpool languishing in 9th place in the league, ten points off fourth place?

At the time of Rodgers' termination, Liverpool were just three points of fourth place, so there is a clear regression here, and it all comes back to the main point of this article: Klopp - unprepared and under-informed - arguably rushed into the LFC job.

Forget the spin - Liverpool had a superb chance to qualify for the Champions League this season, and I have no doubt that FSG expected Klopp to come in, get more out of the squad, and push Liverpool into top-four contention. A different, fresher Jurgen Klopp (or, indeed, a different manager) might've achieved that, even with this allegedly poor squad.

Klopp is undoubtedly a fine manager, but he ended his sabbatical too early, and Liverpool have paid the price. Obviously, I support the manager 100%, and hopefully, he'll improve things exponentially next season.

Author: Jaimie K


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