As Jurgen Klopp settles into life as Liverpool manager, there are a number of qualities supporters can now look forward to under the German.
After sparking optimism among the Liverpool support on his arrival on Merseyside, Klopp now faces a major task in improving the club’s fortunes on the pitch.
It is likely that weeks will pass before the Reds fully bear the fruits of his labour, but with proven success at Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, and the personality to back up his credentials, Klopp is near guaranteed to succeed in some level at Anfield.
Here are five things we can look forward to under the German’s management.
A Better-Drilled Defence
“The first thing, always, maybe in life, you need to have a stable defence,” Klopp told LFCTV on his arrival at the club.
“Nobody starts a development from the top of the table. We can start our development today, tomorrow. If it’s possible, can we be the hardest team to beat in the world? Let’s try to be this.”
It is clear that the German has prioritised steadying the ship in his early days on Merseyside, rather than preparing it to move forward at full tilt.
A clean sheet against Tottenham Hotspur was a strong start in this regard, and Klopp looks set to employ a well-drilled defensive line during his time at Liverpool—much as he did at Dortmund.
The balance of full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno at White Hart Lane was much improved, while the strength and intelligence of Mamadou Sakho makes a crucial foundation at centre-back—though replacing his partner, Martin Skrtel, should be made a priority.
Improving the defensive line was one of the most important tasks for Klopp to undertake on his appointment, and supporters can look forward to many more clean sheets during his reign.
Appreciation of the Defensive Midfielder
Along with a focus on defensive improvement in the back line, Klopp’s arrival heralds a long-anticipated return of the specialist defensive midfielder at Liverpool; arguably not seen since Javier Mascherano left the club in 2010.
During Klopp’s time at Dortmund, Sebastian Kehl and Sven Bender both played key roles in the midfield, typically alongside one of Nuri Sahin and Ilkay Gundogan.
The presence of Kehl or Bender allowed Klopp’s more progressive midfielders to support the fast-paced counter-attacking football employed at the club, which is likely to continue throughout his time at Liverpool.
The role of Lucas Leiva was an intriguing one in Saturday’s 0-0 draw, with the Brazilian deployed as the Reds’ deep-lying midfielder.
Rather than merely prowl the area ahead of Liverpool’s penalty area, however, Lucas was tasked with applying pressure into the opposition’s half with energy and tenacity—this is designed to keep Klopp’s side on the front foot.
Whether Lucas is Klopp’s long-term option in this position or not, the role of the defensive midfielder is set to be a key component in his tactical layout.
Emre Can in Midfield
The talents of Emre Can were greatly under-appreciated by Brendan Rodgers, with the 21-year-old largely utilised out of position, as a centre-back or right-back.
While in the early stages of his jaunt in Liverpool’s defence, Can added power and energy to the back line, his stressing over the summer that “I hope next year to be playing in midfield” clearly underlined his ambitions.
Restored to a central-midfield role against Spurs, Can was markedly improved, pressing with vigour, supporting forward moves with powerful runs and adding an invaluable attacking option on the edge of the penalty area.
Can has the potential to develop into a top-level central midfielder, and with Klopp a clear admirer of his compatriot’s talents, this development will be well served.
The Brilliance of Roberto Firmino
The £29 million outlay sanctioned by the club to sign Roberto Firmino over the summer was by no means misplaced: Liverpool’s transfer committee were well aware they had secured a remarkable talent.
That the Brazilian did not quite fit into Rodgers’ first-team plans, however, was a disappointing reality.
Largely deployed out of position by the Ulsterman, Firmino struggled to impose himself in his first months as a Liverpool player—looking likely to go the same way as Lazar Markovic, Luis Alberto, Mario Balotelli, Iago Aspas and Oussama Assaidi.
By appointing Klopp, however, Liverpool have given Firmino a lifeline, with the 24-year-old likely to play a key role following Rodgers’ departure.
Having reportedly moved to sign him from Hoffenheim while he was at Dortmund, Klopp will be fully aware of Firmino’s ability—particularly his work rate and ability to defend from the front.
With Firmino able to slot into Klopp’s 4-2-3-1 as a wide option, a No. 10 or a striker, the supporters that so relished his arrival this summer can finally savour his brilliance.
Passion, Honesty and a Genuine Meritocracy
The sight of Klopp charging up and down the touchline as Liverpool played out Saturday’s 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane was a welcome one for supporters, with Rodgers spending much of his final months slumped in the dugout.
“It is important, like a 12th man, trying to get those messages across,” James Milner explained after the game. “If he can inject some energy into the boys during the last 10 minutes, when we are tired, then good.”
Klopp is a rare breed of manager: passionate and, importantly, brutally honest. A manager capable of inspiring Liverpool to success.
Furthermore, Klopp looks set to implement a genuine meritocracy on Merseyside—with Rodgers often struggling to balance his frustrations with the transfer committee with the interests of the club.
Klopp is the perfect fit for Liverpool, and supporters can anticipate an era of positivity under his management.