Motioning to all four sides of Anfield, he had the fans eating out of his palms. At that point, he felt unconquerable; as if he was only weeks away from re-establishing the Reds. A loss in Basel to Sevilla in the Final was a blow, but Liverpool were once again finalists. Given that this predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, managed 0 finals with over £300m spent on players, the fact Klopp reached two finals (two losses, though) with someone else’s squad plus Steven Caulker is an incredible feat.
So, is it really believable that not much more than a year on, fans are beginning to get restless? Sadly, it is.
1 win in 10 is no doubt an awful record; a wretched run of form that witnessed two cup exits and a Groundhog Day feeling with lower teams continually besting Liverpool, especially at home. However, this has led to many of the people who held Klopp aloft as the new Bill Shankly already begin to question him.
Does he have a Plan B?
Was what he done at Dortmund really that impressive?
Why can’t he beat a low block? Is he one-dimensional?
The best take, though, is the idea that Klopp is ‘not a good coach.’ It’s put forward that his two sidekicks – Peter Krawiets and Zeljko Buvac – do all the real coaching and analysis work. Klopp is merely the one who comes across, gives the speeches and keeps everyone in a good mood. Apparently, his methods are easy to de-construct and his teams are easy to beat because other managers are more flexible. He’s a poor coach. Netbet odds place every Liverpool win in the ‘most unlikely’ column!
The idea that a manager who helped take Mainz 05 from 2. Bundesliga struggles to the Bundesliga is a poor coach. The fact that he has a team who he trusts and has no problem sharing the credit with in public is a good thing, not a bad. How can you possibly be a bad coach and have gone through the successes he done at Mainz and BVB?
He restored Dortmund to the top of the table, losing key players each season, and defeating a juggernaut in Bayern Munich. He got a Bundesliga record points tally, and won a first-ever double with Dortmund. All while playing an electric brand of football – far more precise and intricate than just spewing the word ‘gegenpressing’ over and over – on a budget with a young, inexperienced team that lacked medals.
Klopp is a wonderful coach – his two assistants merely insulate that. Any fans who believe he has been ‘worked out’, that his previous achievements pale in comparison or that he’s a bad coach, are barking up the wrong tree. It feels like easy criticism that comes from a more arrogant wing of the football press and public, who use his nightmare final Dortmund season – when he lost one key player too many – as ‘proof’ that he cannot coach.
For a man that cannot break down a low press, go and look at his Dortmund sides. They ripped apart low block sides. For more reference about his Liverpool side, look at Watford earlier in the season. Low blocks can be destroyed by a Klopp team; it takes time, energy and a bit of luck to get the stamina needed to do it every single time.
The team look out of energy, not ideas or faith. This can happen when turning mentally weak players – as they were pre-Klopp – into fitness fanatics who win games in large numbers. That kind of mental and physical momentum takes time – and setbacks – to achieve.
The idea that he cannot coach people out of a rut is ridiculous, and any Liverpool fans wavering in their faith of Herr Kloppo would do well to really investigate if the consensus around his weaknesses as a coach are really as pronounced as they are being made out to be.