Who is the best playmaker? Mister Gegenpressing!
Jurgen Klopp is known as one of the most charismatic coaches in Europe who has an ability to lift teams from poor positions towards the top of the table, exactly what we saw during his time at Borussia Dortmund, he has been brought to Liverpool to do exactly that.
Towards the end of Brendan Rodgers's time at Liverpool there seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm both on the pitch and in the stands. In Rodgers's final game against Everton, a game which Liverpool should have been highly motivated for, they seemed flat and lethargic; this was the last straw for the Northern Irishman. Liverpool fans rejoiced as Rodgers was dismissed and the board acted swiftly to appoint Klopp, only the second German manager in Premier League history.
So what was different about Klopp's first match in charge?
During his time at Dortmund he was famed for his high pressing style of play and he has always stressed the importance of distance covered by his players. He believes that this 'gegenpressing' style is the most effective playmaker in the game as it allows attacks to start further up the pitch.
We saw this during the 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Forward players were pressing the Tottenham backline, not allowing them to build out from the back and get the ball into their midfield. Divock Origi, in his first start of the season used his pace and energy well to lead the pressing.
Klopp opted to play a 4-3-2-1 formation, one that is rarely seen in the Premier League but allowed them to be more solid in defence. The back four looked comfortable whilst the reliable trio of Lucas, Emre Can and Milner sat in front of them. Lallana and Coutinho played in behind Origi and helped the Belgian to press the defenders. A special mention must also go to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who pulled off some outstanding saves — a sign of renewed confidence under Klopp. Liverpool recorded their first clean sheet since a goalless draw at Arsenal in August in what was a good defensive display by the Reds.
Despite the lack of goal threat, overall it was a good performance and the physical response from the players was fantastic as they seemed to lift their energy levels by about ten percent.
Liverpool fans have been enthused by the appointment of Klopp and with good reason, he has a record which speaks for itself and plays an attractive style of football. While it is impossible to properly judge a manager on his first game, it seems that the team want to play for him and therefore he can stamp his authority on the team.
What can we expect from now?
For Liverpool players to press the opposition as much as Klopp wants them to, they will need to become the fittest side in the league; something that will take a large amount of time. The German will also need time to recruit players he thinks are suitable for his style of play. A large dose of patience will be required by Liverpool fans and they should not expect immediate results.
Their next five fixtures are very tricky, all of them coming against sides who expect to finish within the top seven or eight of the league, it will be interesting to see whether they will be able to sustain their highly energetic style of play for ninety minutes in the physical challenge of the Premier League.
Text: Thomas Giles, UK