Although it’s not yet official, it appears that Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool successor will be Jurgen Klopp. From that scarcely believable Bosnian news report over the weekend claiming that the German boss had ‘agreed’ a contract with the club, to the out of the blue – no pun intended – sacking of the Northern Irishman shortly after the Merseyside derby through to suggestions he’ll be unveiled at Anfield by Friday, the situation really has been full-throttle.
And with the progress having been so rapid, it’s been somewhat forgotten that, despite his charisma and aura, Klopp, should he make the speculated deal official, will have a big job on his hands on Merseyside. So what are the main issues following the ex-Dortmund boss? Well, here are FIVE…
Few managers have been parachuted in to save a club at where options and players are both plentiful in numbers and quality. However, Klopp is in just that situation with, even the most hardened anti-Reds football fan would find it hard to disagree, the Merseysiders possessing a decent level of very good footballers. Aside from the big names such as Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, Christian Benteke and Jordan Henderson, the Anfield club also have a wealth of players just itching to push on to the next level.
Emre Can – who has already talked up Klopp – is perhaps the most intriguing of these options. The German’s versatility seems to be his greatest downfall, with the 21-year-old having spent more time playing as a left-back, right, back and centre-back through his fledgling career than in his, arguably, natural position in central midfield. Klopp will, assuming he takes the job, have to decide where Can’s future is pretty swiftly, as the former Bayer Leverkusen man has real potential.
As well as his compatriot, the potentially incoming chief will have to coax the best out of Roberto Firmino, work out what to do with the in-form Danny Ings and keep youngsters such ad Jordan Rossiter, Pedro Chirivella and Divock Origi motivated after their breakthroughs under Brendan Rodgers.
Now this subject is a massive issue at Liverpool for a variety of reasons:
The transfer committee – This subject has already been approached with Klopp, according to reports, and the outcome is that (apparently) he’s happy to work under the Reds’ current group approach to signings, albeit with the final say. Whether or not this will be a short-term measure remains to be seen, but the issues raised by recent dealings at the club suggest there are major underlying problems. Rodgers, apparently, had the likes of Lazar Markovic and Mamadou Sakho thrust on him, while he pushed for Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana. The Frenchman is now only just in the first-team following the Croatian’s woeful form and injury, while the young Serbian winger is away from the club on loan as the ex-Southampton attacking midfielder continues to get game time despite some underwhelming performances. This problem is self-explanatory, it seems.
Keeping star names – Can Klopp do what Rodgers, Kenny Dalglish, Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson have failed to do? Over the years of the aforementioned quartet’s reigns, players such as Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano have all departed for bigger and, arguably, better things, and the next could be Philippe Coutinho, with Barcelona’s transfer offensive having begun. The only way Klopp can really alter the tide is by bringing success, but even then that may not be enough as was seen at Dortmund with the exits of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski. However, Liverpool do have more financial clout than BVB.
Attracting talent – The third aspect s getting players to Anfield, The Alexis Sanchez saga, even with Liverpool in the Champions League, shows the club’s current lack of appeal to the very best players. Rodgers’ media persona may have been a factor, and Klopp might have more success with his aura and reputation likely to be more enticing.
That strike by Sturridge 🙌 pic.twitter.com/syrdBD1yye
— LFCMostar (@LFCMostar) September 26, 2015
Undoubtedly Liverpool’s main goalscoring threat, Sturridge is a walking problem for any manager. Although he’s excellent in terms of movement, finishing and positioning, he’s prone to injury and cannot truly lead the line alone. A major problem, it seems.
Klopp’s Dortmund were ate their best with the physicality of Lewandowski up front with a line of three behind him. Does Sturridge fit that? Can Christian Benteke then be used to at the same time? When does Danny Ings get game time?
Liverpool’s defence has been a mess of late. The sloppy goal conceded – the tenth in their last six league games – just minutes after going ahead against Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday summed up why the Reds are currently failing to grind out wins. Thankfully for Kopites, Klopp’s words on his defensive coaching idol, the legendary Arrigo Sacchi, suggest that he’s far more committed to the idea of working on his backline than, perhaps, his predecessor was:
Talking about his time at Mainz in the build-up to the 2012/13 Champions League Final, he said: “Even though we were in the second division we were the first German team to play 4-4-2 without a libero. We watched this very boring video, 500 times, of Sacchi doing defensive drills, using sticks and without the ball, with Maldini, Baresi and Albertini. We used to think before then that if the other players are better, you have to lose. After that we learned anything is possible – you can beat better teams by using tactics.”
The stats of his best Dortmund season – the title winning 2010/11 campaign – back this up, with the yellow-clad side conceding just 22 times across all 34 Bundesliga games – runners-up Bayer Leverkusen let in 44.
Work with Simon Mignolet or bring in his own man? This is a big questions facing Klopp. Mignolet is a real enigma of a goalkeeper. Capable of the sublime, 13 clean sheets last season was the division’s second-highest tally, and the ridiculous, he started that same campaign in shocking fashion and was dropped in favour of Brad Jones around Christmas time, it’s hard to work out what to do with the Belgian. There’s clearly talent there to coax out and the ex-Sunderland man is a top shot-stopper, but can he ever be moulded into the commanding ‘keeper defences love to operate ahead of?
Klopp worked with the influential and experienced Roman Weidenfeller at Dortmund, which suggests that he may opt to look at drafting in a more authoritative goalie in January or at the end of the season. Alas, we’ll just have to wait and see.