Believe it or not, it’s been 10 months since Jurgen Klopp was appointed as Liverpool manager.
It’s certainly flown by with the German boss already taking charge in over 50 matches in the Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League.
Klopp has no trophies to show for his short spell at Anfield, though, after final heartbreak in both the League Cup and Europa League, while he could only guide them to an eight-placed finish in the league.
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But dig a little deeper, and the former Borussia Dortmund manager has transformed the Reds. He may not have taken the Premier League by storm - yet - but like he did with both Mainz and Dortmund, he is starting to instill his philosophy at the club.
If you look at the results, Klopp has had little effect on the club. But we’ve identified five little things he has done since his arrival that has helped transform the side and something that will likely be evident in the seasons to come.
Galvanising the fans
When Klopp took over, Anfield was in a slumber. If it wasn’t a big match, the atmosphere was pretty disappointing. In his every first interview after arriving on Merseyside, he insisted that he wanted to turn the fans “from doubters into believers.”
How would he do that? By forming a bond between the players and their supporters.
He hit out at the fans following Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in November claiming that “he felt alone” during the latter stages of the match, pointing out the lack of noise and belief.
A few weeks later, the Reds were trailing by the same scoreline to West Brom when Divock Origi scored an injury-time equaliser. A draw at home to West Brom certainly shouldn’t be considered a good result, but it was vital for Klopp and the fans. He took his players over to the Kop after the match to thank them for “believing” that the players would score.
Ever since that day, the atmosphere generated at Anfield has been brilliant almost every match - especially during their Europa League run last season when the scenes during matches against Manchester United, Villarreal and Borussia Dortmund rekindled the glory days.
This links to the previous point. While he has turned the fan from “doubters to believers”, it’s had the exact same effect on the players. They certainly don’t know when the match is over, with Liverpool scoring seven goals after the 85th-minute under Klopp, whilst completing dramatic comebacks against the likes of Norwich (5-4), Dortmund (4-3), while they turned around their first-leg deficit to beat Villarreal 3-0 at Anfield.
In fact, Liverpool fans have started calling stoppage time ‘kloppage time’ due to the high percentage of late goals.
Turning up for the big games
In previous years, Liverpool have had a pretty poor record when facing off against the big sides. But all of that has changed dramatically under Klopp. To challenge for a place in the top-four - or even the title - you need to take points off your nearest challengers.
Under Klopp, Liverpool have beaten Chelsea, Manchester City twice, Leicester (one of two defeats they suffered in the Premier League last season), Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund, Everton in the Merseyside Derby and Arsenal. If Liverpool are to achieve their goal, they will need to continue turning up for big games.
This is Klopp’s biggest tactical change since arriving in England. He employs a high-press game, meaning the entire side have to work tirelessly off the ball to close down the opposition. This could be identified immediately after Adam Lallana was subbed off during his very first match against Tottenham and almost collapsed into Klopp’s arms due to the amount of running he had done. Fast forward 10 months and the Reds are breaking Premier League records.
According to football data specialist Dan Kennett, Klopp’s side covered 117.6km during their 4-3 victory over Arsenal last weekend - the most distance of any Premier League team since camera tracking was introduced.
And now you know the reason why there is no place in Klopp’s plans for Christian Benteke and Mario Balotelli.
While he is obviously a great tactician, Klopp also seems to be a fantastic man-manager.
How can we tell? The list of players that have showed a major improvement under him is quite astonishing. Lallana, Joe Allen, Roberto Firmino, Origi, Dejan Lovren all improved dramatically under Klopp, and it’s certainly no coincidence.
They all appear to be enjoyed their football immensely and the way Klopp embraces his players after each match just shows the great relationship he has with them all.
So, while it’s difficult to see the impact Klopp has had on Liverpool on the surface, he has definitely done a lot of good work to change the fortunes of Liverpool. If he continues to work at these five things, don’t be surprised to see the Reds competing for major honours this season, a few years to come.
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