Klopp’s Impact on the Reds Immediate

Jurgen Klopp faced a stern test in his first game in charge at Liverpool Football Club.  Joel McMaster looks at the German’s early impact on the side following the 0-0 draw between Tottenham and Liverpool.

1. Shape

The widespread belief was that Klopp would play his regular 4-2-3-1/4-4-2 hybrid formation, his ultimate preference at Borussia Dortmund. But instead, the Stephen-Merchant-look-a-like  surprised many by evoking memories of Carlo Ancelotti’s famous AC Milan side and fielding the Liverpool eleven in the 4-3-2-1 (Christmas Tree) shape.

The midfield three was most interesting. Lucas Leiva was flanked by Emre Can and James Milner. My initial impression was that it was a brilliant way to get the best out of all three players. I’ve long believed that Lucas is better utilised as a defensive midfield pivot on his own rather than in a two. Conversely, James Milner has done nothing to convince that he is the central midfielder of the standard Liverpool require, but his right-of-centre position looked a good compromise between playing in the middle and out wide, depending on circumstances. Thirdly, in his left of centre position, it was the most comfortable Emre Can has been since his arrived at the club.

The overall shape leant itself to choking the central areas and forcing the opposition wide, and that’s exactly what Liverpool did.

Liverpool Shape

2. Pressing

In the post-match press conference Klopp said he didn’t want the team to go on the first ball, but the second.  Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham like to play out from the back and there was a clear intent to force Spurs to play wide or into midfield.  The trigger was Divock Origi, who started the match up front after Daniel Sturridge picked up a knee injury the night before.

This example from the second half shows Liverpool’s approach for the majority of the match. Origi almost waits for Alderweirald to move beyond him, before coming round to cut off any options the centre back may have to pass backwards. As soon as Origi did this, Liverpool’s midfield presses hard with Coutinho on Kyle Walker, Lucas moving high towards Delle Alli and even Adam Lallana coming across the pitch.

Defending from the Front

Defending from the Front 2

This resulted in a number of turnovers during the match, however Liverpool were unable to take advantage of them as they looked less than fluid in attack, possibly due to Klopp’s focus on his side’s defensive discipline.

Additionally, the Reds covered the most distance and made the most sprints in a game of any Premier League team this season, greater indication that the manager’s famed gegenpressing philosophy has begun to take hold.

3. Compactness

Another sign that Klopp and his coaching staff had focused on how Liverpool defended during their limited time with the squad was how compact the side was.  While defending in their own half, they did their best to reduce Spurs to playing on one side of the pitch.  Just look at how far across James Milner and Adam Lallana have come in an effort to keep Tottenham penned in.  In this case, there are four Liverpool players around two Tottenham players:

Liverpool Compactness

4. Attacking Build-Up

In Ancelotti’s Christmas Tree, the fullbacks pushed beyond the midfield as soon as their central defenders received the ball.  In Klopp’s system, the fullbacks were more conservative initially before pushing on.

In the second half, after the winning the ball, Liverpool’s back line fan out to open up the pitch, and Skrtel receives the ball from Sakho.

Clyne-Milner 1

As Skrtel receives the pass from Sakho and looks for his options, Clyne begins his movement upfield.  Milner, his closest midfield teammate, moves into the space vacated by the fullback.

Clyne-Milner 2

Milner’s movement allows Lallana to drop into his space as Skrtel now has three or four options from which to choose from – Milner, Lucas, plus Lallana and Coutinho who can look to combine further up the pitch with Clyne, who has now motored forward in support.

Clyne-Milner 3

It will take time for Klopp’s philosophy to be instilled amongst the Liverpool squad.  History shows that this was the case with both his Mainz and Dortmund sides.  The signs are clear, however, that the German has already began to make his mark on the Anfield team.

What are they thinking? (Liverpool Edition)

With Jurgen’s Klopp confirmed arrival at Liverpool Football, we look at what the main players are thinking in this time of excitement and upheaval.

Ian Ayre & Tom Werner

Ian & Tom

Ian: We finally have our man! No longer do we need to put things around the manager to convince him of the way we want to operate!.  John is happy. Tom is happy.  Mike is happy. I am happy.

Tom: I might get a suit that fits to celebrate…

Brendan Rodgers


I’m sad.  Sad, sad, sad. Just sad.

I could’ve turned it round. I took them to the brink of the title, doesn’t anyone remember that?  Why couldn’t we make it happen? Why?  It’s that transfer group thing.  If they’d just bought the players I wanted, then I wouldn’t be here in Malaga!

It really is an outstanding place to be on holiday, couldn’t’ve asked for any more from the sun.

Maybe this is a good thing?  Maybe this is a good chance to show my character. And 7 million isn’t too bad for the pocket.

Oooh what’s in this envelope here?

Jurgen Klopp

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg...DORTMUND, GERMANY - APRIL 24: Head Coach Jurgen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund looks on during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid at Signal Iduna Park on April 24, 2013 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Oooowe.  I love the passion and the intensity of the football here.  It is time to believe.

When FSG called me for LFC, I had to cut short my holiday.  Four months is too long to play for tennis anyway.  I have made the right choice. I fit like an arse on a bucket here.

I like the squad. Benteke and Firmino are here. They would’ve been hot stuff for my Dortmund side. Now, we can make it work.  I am bringing the hot stuff to them.

I said “FSG have called me for LFC!” They are cool guys.  I had to give in once they came for a third time and four months is too long to play tennis anyway  This job fits me like an arse on a bucket.  But these Yankees don’t know what they’re in for!

Philippe Coutinho


At least we now have manager.  I was getting a bit tired of Brendan’s things.  I owe him a lot, but training was… how do you say?…a drag.  And I was out on left side again!

Klopp is good.  I am happy.  But let’s see what happens.  If it doesn’t work out then I’m off to Barca (ssshhh David).  Hey Lucas!  Make yourself useful and pass the mate!

The Dirtbag Diaries #1: Making 1>0

I’ve been thinking a lot more about how I plan to do this.  As I am wont to do, I often get bogged down thinking about all the things that make it not worth it.

But then today, I watched this video.

And it gave me an idea…

Why don’t I document the climb? And talk about how I’m making 1>0 a reality.

So here we have it.  The first entry into The Dirtbag Diary.

I’m been struggling for the last few years to work out what I actually want to do with my life.  I’ve often said “I want to run my own business”.  But people continue to see me as a shyster, a fraud.  I’m talking but I’m not executing

You see, I’m really good at researching, understanding, putting things together, and dreaming of better things.

My weakness?  My lack of action…

Too long I thought a magical solution would just fall into my lap if I wanted hard enough.  Well that’s not the case.  I have to work for it.

The biggest wake up call for me has been the birth of my son.  It has spurred me into action.  I now have something to work for.  All of a sudden it feels like my work matters.  That what I produce matters. I now love working hard and working smart.   I want more.  I want to make this count.

That’s why I’m going to document this whole thing.  I want people to see how I’m enjoying the climb.

The ultimate goal?  Make this a viable business to support my family.

I’ll keep you updated.

Excuse me!

I’ve had this idea for a while, but I keep finding excuses not to do it.

I’m tired of not treading my own path. But I’m still being held back. By no one else but me. I continue to come up with excuses. The latest? I need to watch another episode of House of Cards tonight because our free Netflix trial is about to expire.

Excuses. Just excuses.

The idea probably isn’t even good. It’s just something I know is would love to do. Want to know what it is? Too bad. I’m too scared to tell you. Too scared of what others would think. Too scared to put it out there. But…then I am reminded of something Jeff Goins said.

You’re not that special.

Truth. Hurts.

I am not that special. Given that maybe one person at most might read this post is a clear indication of that (Hi Mum!).

This idea, it’s not revolutionary, it’s not special and it’s probably been thought of a thousand times before.

But I’m tired of waiting. Tired of making excuses. Tired of saying I want to do my own thing, something I believe in! But never doing anything about it.

Tonight, that stops. Here goes…

I want to create a website that combines sport and comedy. I love sport and I love laughing. It’s only going to be sport I like — football, basketball and Formula 1.

I want to have a weekly podcast for each of those sports along with other one-off podcasts.

Then I want to host special events for the fans of the site. All while laughing along the way.

Then I want to make money from it.


Can I write? Not yet.

Can I host a podcast? Not yet.

Can I do the work required? No evidence so far.

At least I got it out there. Who knows if it’ll happen. Time to get started…