Dylan Gerstley shows how the hard won successes of teams like Wales, Iceland and Leicester City can apply to Liverpool.
The past season has revealed some of the most unexpected and awe inspiring Cinderella stories that only aid Jürgen Klopp’s philosophy of team work and hard work on the training ground.
The curtain has closed on Wales’ triumphant run through Euro 2016 but the impression that the Welsh boys left will never be forgotten. For all the criticism of the expanded Euro format, Wales and fellow fairytale Iceland have created some of the most lovable and inspiring tales in all of football. The two small nations join club team Leicester City in making the 2015/2016 season a breath of fresh air in a modern game that is controlled by money and corruption.
These teams were clearly built on the training ground. There is a cohesion and hard work evident in their play as well as in how they conduct themselves off the pitch.
Euro 2016 was the culmination of years of hard work behind the scenes for both Iceland and Wales. Iceland invested huge sums of money into making their tiny island one of the best places for youth footballing development. Now the nation is seeing real results from the investment and it is evident on the field.
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The Welsh, on the other hand, have used the Premier League to groom their finest prospects. Manager, Chris Coleman’s pride and character have allowed the players to bond and connect on the training ground and the passion they players have for the Welsh game and for each other bleeds out into their performances.
Iceland and Wales share more than just teamwork. Between the two, there is only one bona fide superstar, Gareth Bale. The Welshman made the move from the Premier League to Real Madrid and is certainly one of the most talented wide players on the planet, but that is not reflected in how he plays the game.
The same can be said of Iceland’s “superstars” Gylfi Sigurðsson and Kolbeinn Sigþórsson. The duo work just as hard and share the same fiery pride as their compatriots. Even though neither player is considered amongst the world’s elite, the duo have shown their skill and ability to win as in the country’s first ever major tournament they progressed to the quarterfinal.
On club level, this cohesion and pride is embodied by Premier League champions Leicester City.
The tale of Leicester is a well known one, but the fact remains that the club embroiled in a relegation battle a little more than a year before they lifted the trophy as champions. There were no high profile transfers or massive amounts of cash splashed on a big name but rather an emphasis on counter attacking football. Italian manager, Cluadio Ranieri used the players the club already had and the bargain of N’Golo Kante to make the team unstoppable.
Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez joined Kante in stardom but the trio are hardly superstars and never put themselves before the the Foxes’ league winning season.
These stories are living representations of Klopp’s philosophy. The German manager puts his faith in his skill and ability to get the most out of players on the training ground. This philosophy goes against the grain of English football as fans are drowned in a deluge of mere transfer speculation.
Klopp has already gone on record to state his dislike of the English focus on transfers and money. It was evident in his time at Dortmund that he did not need superstars to succeed and the 2016 season proved Klopp’s position once again as minnows like Iceland and Wales overachieved and Leicester shocked the world in one of the most endearing tales in sport.
With the German’s passion and love of the training ground coupled with some extremely talented attacking players, Liverpool look set to achieve something special this season. Last season’s brush with success in the League Cup and the Europa League are already examples of Klopp’s power and with the recent successes of small teams, the players will be on board with the hard work on the training ground. Klopp has Liverpool set for a season to remember.