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Heavy metal football: The Klopp effect

30 September 2016, 13:45 Craig Taylor - Sport24

Cape Town - Almost a year has passed since the powers that be at Liverpool Football Club decided to part ways with Brendan Rodgers and put Jurgen Klopp in the hot seat at Anfield.

Rodgers, for all his good work during the 2013/14 English Premiership season (where Liverpool had finished second), could not keep up the momentum at the club.

This was in part thanks to the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona for a fee of £65 million and the injury problems suffered by the club’s other star striker, Daniel Sturridge.

By the time Liverpool drew 1-1 with Merseyside rivals Everton on Sunday, October 4, the writing was on the wall and the Northern Irishman was duly sacked.

Several names were bandied about as a replacement, but Liverpool fans were certainly buoyed by one in particular, Jurgen Klopp.

The ex-boss at Borussia Dortmund, Klopp had decided to take a sabbatical from football at the end of the 2014/15 season, but the lure of a famous club like Liverpool proved too much and he soon filled the vacancy at Anfield where he was announced as the new manager on October 8.

Just what effect has the charismatic German had on a Liverpool team which despite the heroics of the 2013/14 season, continued to flatter to deceive?

Well, if you measure success in trophies, then not much as of yet!

Klopp did however, guide the red half of Merseyside to the 2016 League Cup final where they went down to Manchester City on penalties as well the Europa Cup final where they lost to 3-1 to Sevilla.

Stats however, do not lie and here the improvement is noticeable.

Since October 2015, Liverpool are the English Premiership leaders in terms of:

- Goals scored (71)

- Possession (58,8%)

- Tackles per game (22.4)

- Sprints per game (559)

More noticeable is the fact that Klopp has turned a number of underperforming, inconsistent first team regulars into standouts.

Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren have bloomed under Klopp, while the supremely talented Philippe Coutinho has become far more consistent.

Club captain, Jordan Henderson, is showing promise in a new deeper role while the versatile James Milner is proving to be a revelation at left-back, a position Klopp refused to fill during the summer.

Klopp’s summer acquisitions have also hit the ground running with winger Sadio Mane already registering three goals and three assists this season.

He was recently named the PFA Fans Premier League Player of the Month for September as a reward for his early season form.

Klopp’s strategy of relentless pressing, the same system employed at Dortmund, seems to fit the English side particularly well.

Liverpool however, still have defensive flaws to iron out.

The 2-0 loss at Burnley on August 20 came despite 81% possession, 26 shots, and 763 passes while on the opening day of the season, they squandered a 4-1 lead at Arsenal to just hang on and win 4-3.

So despite the positives, including picking up seven out of nine points on away trips to Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur, unless Klopp can rid Liverpool of their defensive frailties, they might continue to flatter to deceive.

Klopp’s heavy metal football however, is slowly taking shape at Anfield and for Liverpool fans the world over, the German has certainly made the club's future shine a little more brightly. 

- Sport24


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