Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool FC - What next for the Reds?
Will Klopp Improve the Reds?
New manager Jurgen Klopp has sparked fresh enthusiasm amongst Reds fans following the departure of Brendan Rodgers. The German quickly got his message across to the players and watched as they gained a creditable 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in October 2015 when Klopp first arrived.
Liverpool players will have to get used to the new style of play as Klopp is a champion of gangerpressing, where groups of players chase down the ball. His successful Borussia Dortmund side were acknowledged masters of this style.
Klopp will have to win a trophy in the next three seasons if he's to stay. Rodgers did not win a trophy in his three years at the giant club - the only Liverpool manager to achieve this - but did take the Reds to within a whisker of winning the EPL two seasons ago when they lost out to Manchester City.
Since then, Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez have left the club, leaving Liverpool without a world class player in their first XI. Klopp will have to bring in two or three major signings to please the huge fan base and get LFC back to the top.
Brendan Rodgers tried hard but didn't win silverware and at a club with the pedigree of Liverpool that is deemed as failure. He is a great coach but questions remain over his man management skills and ability to inspire extraordinary performances when needed.
Jurgen Klopp will bring great man-management skills to Anfield, along with passion and drive. He'll need everyone to work hard to turn things around at this massive club.
Record - Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers at Liverpool: 1 June 2012 to 4 October 2015
- Premier League..... 8th/7th/2nd
- FA Cup...4th round/5th round/semi-final
- League Cup...4th round/3rd round/semi-final/4th round stage
- Europe.... Europa league round of 32/Did not qualify/Champs Lge group stage
Capital One Cup Final - 28th February 2016
Liverpool lost narrowly to Manchester City on penalties at Wembley in this cup final, the first opportunity of the season to win silverware. Jurgen Klopp will be pleased he got to a major final in his first season at Anfield but he knows his squad is a work in progress - it's not yet up to Klopp's high standards.
Emre Can is a defensive midfielder but has also played a key role in Liverpool FC's defence. A German international he has strength and great passing ability, as well as an ability to read the game and set things going offensively.
Many see him as a natural replacement for the veteran Steven Gerrard - this is wishful thinking. Emre Can is a class act make no mistake but he'll have to improve his speed, heading and goal scoring ability before he can claim to be on a par with Gerrard.
The Goals of Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard - Captain Fantastic
Steven Gerrard epitomises the classic Liverpool FC player. Locally born and raised, brought up to play hard and fast and remain loyal, he graced the Anfield arena for fifteen years, many of those as captain.
To watch him in his prime was to witness a hard tackling midfielder, brave as they come, a general striding forward with the ball, looking for that through pass, moving on toward goal, releasing a powerful right foot screamer that would hit the back of the net and set Anfield rocking.
His long passing was a dream. From the edge of his own 18 yard box diagonally 50 yards out to the waiting winger or overlapping full back. A master.
Gerrard, a true leader, inspiring, with that never say die attitude.
So, although now no longer playing for LFC, Steven Gerrard may not be able to fulfill his wish of gaining an EPL champions medal - not for want of trying - but he'll go down in Reds history as one of, if not the, greatest player to have pulled on the famous Liverbird shirt.
Liverpool v AC Milan. An excellent DVD of the Champions League final in Istanbul 2005. Watch the most amazing comeback ever in club football.
A.C. Milan 3 goals up at half time and already celebrating their Champion's League victory. Liverpool outplayed and second best. What chance of a comeback? None. Everton fans back home on Merseyside were dancing in the streets. This was going to be the most humiliating moment in Liverpool FC's history. The Milanese were going to thrash them, 4 maybe 5 goals to nil!!
Enter the gladiator Steven Gerrard. The greatest comeback ever seen in a major final was about to happen. In a mind blowing six minute spell in the second half Liverpool scored three goals to tie the match. At the end of extra time - with Shevchenko denied by the miraculous double save of Dudek - there was only ever going to be one winner on penalties.
Liverpool FC. Champions of Europe for the 5th time.
Liverpool Football Club - a story of passion.
The young Columbian volunteer approached me one day and asked if I could take him to see a football match in Leeverpool. Matteo had come to work in the UK for a year and wanted to experience what he called the real 'English old fashioned' atmosphere inside the stadium. He was in his own words 'soccer mad' and he made Liverpool his first choice out of all the English premier league clubs. I agreed. How could I refuse a teenage Columbian who had shown such good taste in his choice? I did correct him though. We don't call it soccer in England I told him. Soccer is an imported word from the USA or Australia or wherever. (Assoc. + er). It's football, pure and simple. He seemed to get the message.
I told him about my passion for Liverpool Football Club. I took him to a 17th century pub, bought him a pint of Theakston's Peculiar - dark thick tasting beer - and gave him a potted history of the Reds, warts and all. Most importantly I emphasised Liverpool's rivalry with the deadly enemies from just down the road - the Unmentionables - the team from Manchester. Matteo understood. He said that in south America there were similar situations with certain clubs and certain countries. It was a natural thing. Yes I agreed, quite natural. But impossible to rationalise. You follow your team 100%, and you stay loyal to the point of blindness. It affects males, females, others in-between. Following a club can become an addiction, no doubt.
So we went to the match Matteo and I. We drove the 90 miles across the high hills of Yorkshire - the Pennines - on England's highest motorway right into the city of Liverpool. You follow the sign for the Football Stadia (plural note because there is a second team in Liverpool - no not Liverpool Reserves - but a team who play in blue and are known as the Toffees for their ability to make people's jaws stick together, rigid) and head straight for the district known as L4, Anfield. To the left is the route into the centre proper, to the Beatles museum and Albert Docks.
Matteo was a little surprised when I parked up for free within a stone's throw of the famous stadium. I guess I was used to the idea of driving up close and intimate to Anfield, slotting into a gap opposite the huddled rows of red brick terraces. It really is how it should be for me - a stadium of the people grounded in the very living space of those same people. The stands tower above the rooftops and the back yards are squeezed right up to the perimeter walls. On match days the local streets are as you can imagine packed with noisy, excited supporters, 45,000 of them! You have be very tolerant if you live close to Anfield. Better to be a Reds supporter.
I treated Matteo to a Scouse Pie with chips. He had to have authentic Liverpudlian food on his first visit. With a little salt and pepper and brown sauce he was as happy as any Columbian could be. After that fine meal we headed for the Hillsborough shrine. Matteo had heard of this very special place and had longed to see it. Set at the Anfield Road end of the stadium near the Shankly Gates there are the names of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster and a flame that burns constantly to remind us all of their lost innocence. It is part of the emotional fabric of the club and moves an awful lot of people. Soon we hope to have some sort of closure for the families who have fought for a rightful justice.
By the time we got seated the teams were out and the stadium rocking. A semi final against one of the wealthiest clubs on earth, Manchester City, in the Carling Cup. We were 1-0 up from the first match but were not favourites to get to the final. Matteo held up his scarf as the first notes to You'll Never Walk Alone hit the speakers. The Kop began to sing as one the most famous song in world football. Then the whole ground erupted. Is there a better choir 40,000 strong at any football stadium? Matteo didn't know the words but he felt their meaning. From young child to old man this song stirs the blood like no other. If you enjoy singing and ridiculously large choirs then I urge you, at some stage in your life, to experience Anfield on a match day sitting on the Kop.
The song must have worked its magic because we won the tie and got through to the Wembley final. With a bit of luck and alot of graft we lifted the Carling Cup in the end and although it's not the most prestigious piece of silverware going it's not to be sniffed at. To risk a cliche, trophies is trophies at the end of the day.
Matteo got a fabulous baptism that night and was as hoarse as a sore throated goat the following day. What impressed him most was the intensity and the passion. When Craig Bellamy the veteran Welshman jinked into the box and played a one-two with Glen Johnson before slotting home left footed we turned into wild things, grabbing each other and dancing up and down with several grown men, in an ecstatic bunch. This is the glory we long for when we go to watch football. It stays in the blood.
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© 2012 Andrew Spacey