Brendan Rodgers did a brilliant job at Liverpool, even if football’s short-termism could make you forget that. But the Northern Irishman’s last few months were plagued with cynicism and negative energy with respect to everything happening in and around the club. The fact that Steven Gerrard also announced his departure only made things worse for Rodgers and the 42-year-old was discharged from his duties after a 1-1 draw against Everton.
JA?rgen Klopp has brought with himself a name and an energy that made everyone forget about Rodgers just minutes into Klopp’s first press-conference. A month as Liverpool’s boss, Klopp’s record reads three draws, three wins and one loss, not bad by any means.
Here are some of the things that seem different after him being in-charge for just over one month
Belief, motivation and mentality
Belief has to sit on top of this list. The German saw that Liverpool players and fans don’t believe in comebacks. Against Southampton, Liverpool players believed the game was set for a draw as Sadio Mane equalised quickly after Benteke’s thumping header. Klopp mentioned his worry after the match. Liverpool faced Chelsea next and won the game after conceding first. This hadn’t happened in months. Against Crystal Palace as well, the Reds equalised after falling behind.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t finish from their many efforts and Palace took the lead once again towards the last minutes of the game. All in all, we do see a considerable shift in belief. Players are giving themselves enough credit to believe in their abilities to win games from losing positions.
Klopp’s enthusiasm is infectious and is visible through the bear hugs he gives each player at the end of the match. The “Ibeeeeee” vine has been looped thousand of times for fans’ viewing pleasure and one can’t ignore the fact that it looks as though he has rubbed off his positive energy on the players as well as the fanbase that had turned so toxic in the past few months. He is more animated than his predecessor and is constantly pointing his opinions out to the players on the pitch.
Since Klopp took over, Liverpool have conceded more than 1 goal in only 1 game (Crystal Palace). In the league, the Reds have conceded four goals, and all in all, they have conceded six goals in seven games which includes three clean sheets. From a side that was leaking goals for fun, this is a massive improvement. It’s not surprising that this has coincided with Mamadou Sakho making himself a sure starter in the team. Sakho was a big debatable point under Rodgers who preferred to demonstrate his faith in Dejan Lovren. However, Sakho did make his return to the side under Rodgers along with signing a new professional contract under the Northern Irishman. Unfortunately for Klopp, the Frenchman has been ruled out for at least six weeks with a knee injury he sustained against Crystal Palace. Liverpool should still consider themselves lucky, as the injury looked very serious initially and there were fears the former PSG player could be out for the entire season.
Klopp will face challenges now as he only has Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren for the centre-back roles. Joe Gomez is out for the season with an ACL injury while Kolo Toure is also suffering from a knock. It won’t be unlikely to see Liverpool invest in a defender in the coming transfer window.
Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno have also played a massive part in the defence and both the full-backs look in good touch at the moment. Moreno, whose defensive abilities were somewhat of a question mark last season has also looked composed in his primary duties. His brilliant tackle against Southampton epitomized his shift in form.
What has caught the eye the most, is how certain players seem to have completely rejuvenated under the new boss. Jordon Ibe underwent a downfall at the start of the season, and many thought the player was all hype with little substance. The 19-year-old has started looking great recently, and his relationship with the new coach seems to be doing wonders for his confidence. After a long wait, the Englishman scored his debut goal for the Reds against Rubin Kazan. Lucas Leiva suddenly looks like the first player on the teamsheet. The Brazilian was so close to being sold in the summer. He ended up staying and has since played a crucial part for both Rodgers as well as Klopp. Under Klopp however, the 28-year-old looks like a new player — the defensive midfielder that Liverpool fans had been crying for, for so long. Not only that, Lucas has been involved more and more with the attacking side of things and has linked up play with the attackers as well as anyone. As mentioned before, Alberto Moreno is doing very well, and couldn’t look more comfortable being the first choice for left-back. Emre Can, despite his poor performance against Palace, has played well in the midfield for the new boss.
Klopp’s man-management has been incredible. He has received praise from the players already but what is remarkable is that he has even spoken about the players who have been absent with injury to ensure no one is left on the periphery.
Liverpool look more and more organised on the pitch. They’re no longer running around like “headless chickens” and are working things out in numbers, and yet not blindly so. There is a plan in place for counterattacks and the intensity that has come along with it.The team is more compact and thus there aren’t gaping holes left for opposition players to exploit very easily. The pressing which Klopp is so famous for is something Rodgers also laid considerable emphasis on. However, like his tenure, the pressing aspect also plummeted after the losses of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. So far under Klopp, the pressing doesn’t look random and amateurish. Instead, the players are doing the same with purpose and in an organised manner. Even the 4-2-3-1 and variations of it which didn’t work under Rodgers, seem to be doing the trick with the same personnel under the former Mainz and Dortmund boss. This can only mean that the individual instructions that Klopp is giving out to each player are better and more successful than the ones Rodgers was offering his team.
Respect for the Europa League
Another thing Liverpool fans were annoyed with Brendan Rodgers for, was that it seemed like he didn’t give the Europa League much importance. For Klopp, the Europa League seems like a competition Liverpool can win a trophy in. More crucially, they could qualify for the Champions League through that. Klopp took a full strength squad with him to Russia for the match against Rubin Kazan despite the side playing Crystal Palace just two days later. When asked if he feared the players would be tired due to the tenuous schedule, he replied, a If we had travelled by train or car, it would be a big problem. But we slept on the plane”. This is a refreshing change from what the Reds fans have seen for some time. Liverpool are genuinely competing for the Europa League and getting the respect they deserve.