Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp: Management analysis
‘The normal one’ has arrived. Jurgen Klopp, an already popular figure in the UK endeared the media in his unveiling as the new manager of Liverpool Football Club. He tells us he is not a genius but is excited to be here and will work as hard as possible to make his new side a success after 25 years without winning the league. At Borussia Dortmund he won the title in only his 3rd season and even more impressively defended that title the next year. After seeing his team decimated by rivals Bayern who brought in Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski Dortmund went into decline. In the middle of his 7th season in charge Klopp confirmed he would resign at the end as he managed to take the club from bottom to a Europa league spot before leaving. He is an interesting character no doubt but how does he compare to the departed Brendan Rodgers and does Liverpool suit his management style?
Klopp’s league standings
6th (League cup winners)
1st (League Cup winners)
2nd (Champions League Finalists)
The man himself described his methods best. He once likened Arsene Wenger’s style to an ‘orchestra’ but saw himself as ‘heavy metal’. Klopp places a huge emphasis on ‘transition’ i.e. How quickly you can win the ball back and turn defence into attack in the shortest possible time. His teams focus more on energy, work rate and speed as opposed to Rodgers possession. The closest manager I can compare him to in the Premier League in terms of style would be Mauricio Pochettino.
In order to play to Klopp’s blueprint he requires pace, hard working players and a degree of flair and ingenuity. Looking at Liverpool’s 11 in relation to the Dortmund 2012/13 side there are a decent level of similarities. Of course Dortmund had more quality but Coutinho is a close fit with Gotze, he will be impressed with the work rate and endeavour of Milner and Henderson. The full backs Clyne and Moreno match up well with Dortmund’s and he will be hoping he can link up Benteke and Sturridge if they ever play together that is. The main difference is the heart of defence with Lovren and Skrtel nowhere near the partnership that Subotic and Hummels had.
Klopp v Rodgers
Temperament – Klopp generally takes things in his stride whereas Rodgers could be quite prickly at times. Brendan became a comedic manager in some circles due to his delusion and overuse of words like ‘character’, ‘group’, ‘commitment’ etc. Klopp gives a different interview every time and will keep everyone on their toes.
Consistency – Klopp will establish a general pattern of play and try to master it. Rodgers was guilty of using many different styles, formations and personnel which was more of a shotgun approach to success.
Workrate – In fairness Brendan values hard work just as Jurgen does. Hopefully Klopp will be able to convey how to work smart as well as hard. For me Klopp and Guardiola are the best at pressing. Opposition sides are given little time on the ball and are not allowed cheap passes.
Communication – Nobody at Borussia Dortmund seems to have a bad word to say about him. All his players believed him and he seemed to have a good relationship with them which can only be down to communication. Most players perform better when they know exactly what the manager wants.
Transfers – One of the main criticisms of Rodgers and the transfer committee was the inability to replace Luis Suarez and use the money generated from the sale effectively. Klopp had similar problems at Dortmund when he lost Mario Gotze and then Robert Lewandowski the next year. Gotze has been replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has been ok but not scored the goals he did with Shakhtar. Lewandowski’s direct replacement Ciro Immobile didn’t really work despite some decent champions league performances. The main successes have been Marco Reus and in the last two seasons
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon striker scored 24 last season taking Dortmund from bottom to 7th amd has scored 11 goals in 10 games so far this season.
Defence – Brendan Rodgers main problem was not improving the defence in his time at Anfield. I’m not sure Klopp is the man to change this. His strengths are in attack and transition. His defence was good when they won their leagues but when Subotic suffered a knee injury and Hummels form dropped he had few answers. Like many his best opportunity to have a good defence is simple, buy better defenders. He will have to wait to do this.
Jurgen Klopp is a breath of fresh air and his enthusiasm will improve Liverpool in the long term. He may need money to buy and time to do so but he will improve the club, how much though remains to be seen.