"If one game changes my mind then I would be a real idiot," said Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp after their surprising defeat against Burnley this week. When Alberto Moreno's absence forced Klopp to put James Milner in the left back position, he was constantly asked in the press conference if he was considering more transfers for both defense and midfield. Nevertheless, the German coach did not let the journalists push him into radical changes. Liverpool had an unpleasant experience but are on the right track.
Firstly, since the glory years at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp has been able to play his counter-pressing style efficiently. He owes this new version of "Gegenpressing" to Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone, but Liverpool are not just copying what they learned from both Atletico and EURO 2016. The team has a classic counter-pressing shape with a compact structure, but is much more daring and creative when it comes to offense than a decent counter-pressing team.
Secondly, it should not be forgotten that this new way of pressing was first utilized noticeably by Klopp and Dortmund and then improved upon by their rivals Jupp Heynckes and Bayern Munich. Klopp intuitively knows the demands of this game after using it and confronting it over many years in the top levels of German football. Furthermore, last year Liverpool played quasi-Gegenpressing with a lot of chaos when their game stuck, so the team is also familiar with this strategy now.
The bad news is, as the Burnley game showed, sometimes Klopp sacrifices a lot because of the requirements of counter-pressing to shape his team according to the opponent's tactics. A coach should always consider the strategies of their opponent and act accordingly, but when supplementary information like this distorts the masterplan, then Liverpool fall apart, as the Burnley game and the first half of the Arsenal game showed. Klopp tends to strengthen defense or offense disproportionately whenever he feels the need to be more cautious or more daring.
However, Liverpool's chaotic nature has risen from the of kind of decisions that Klopp made to save the day. Sometimes Liverpool managed to come back from three goals down with these tactics, but sometimes the same tactics cost them a Europa League trophy. The unpredictability of the team makes Liverpool a dangerous opponent indeed, but it is not the right way to achieve long-term success. In order to beat Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Antonio Conte and Claudio Ranieri, Klopp has to come up with a reliable strategy and that is what he has done so far. The only problem is the chaotic nature of the team that I mentioned above, and Liverpool have been fortunate to be punished for their consistent errors before it becomes more serious.
Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool can be the Leicester City of this season, but the team and the strategy they are trying needs time to settle. No new transfers, no radical changes, just marinate for a while until it is ready, then Liverpool will be a deadly opponent.
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