12 May 2017

'I'm Not Convinced': Anfield legend slates Klopp for 'bizarre' Liverpool situation and slams his obsession with running

Despite playing fewer games than any team in the top six, Liverpool are currently making hard work of finishing in the top four, and Reds legend Jan Molby has blamed the club's inconsistency on Jurgen Klopp's stubborn insistence on rinsing his players in every single game.

In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, Molby criticised Klopp for 'implementing a hard-pressing style over an entire season', and for ignoring the obvious 'warning' signs associated with such an endlessly intense approach:

"It's bizarre how [Liverpool] are stumbling across the line [when] there hasn't been European football. You've got to leave a little bit for later one, build match fitness up as you go along, and make sure you stay the distance. There's a way of pacing yourself and I'm not convinced you have to run 120km a game to be able to win".

I've repeatedly made the same argument since Klopp arrived, but what do I know? As is often the case, I make valid predictions months ahead of time (supported by detailed, credible reasoning, stats etc), and fans refuse to accept it. Then, many months down the line, people slowly start waking up to the reality.

This doesn't require any special insight on my part; it merely requires a willingness to set aside pro-LFC bias to see the obvious reality, even if it's discouraging.

In this instance, Molby is absolutely spot on: Klopp's obsession with running/pressing is counter-productive, and is symptomatic of his one-dimensional tactics. As defender Tim Hoogland (signed by Klopp for Mainz) told reporters last season:

“With Klopp, you have to run. That’s it. This is one of the important things you have to know about him. The whole team has to run 120km collectively every game. 120km minimum.”

Since Klopp arrived at Anfield, Liverpool have run more miles than any other team in the league, but that approach has yielded very little. The Reds finished 8th last season, and this year, the team got dumped out both cup competitions in January, and then collapsed as soon as the going got tough.

A top four finish this season will represent progress, but unless Klopp adapts his approach to the demands of English football, the inconsistency will continue. Less focus on running; more focus on game intelligence, game management, and tactical flexibility.


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