Dave Davis runs over the three main objectives that Jürgen Klopp has going into the 2016/17 season.
Intense training and games. Jürgen Klopp has made it clear what he wants from those players he considers to have a future at Anfield. Pre-season is considered by many as merely functional pre-cursor to the main act, but don’t try telling that to the boss.
Peter Krawietz, Klopp’s assistant has been clear on the plan:
“It will be a long season, we know that, because there’s no break until the end of May. We know we have to do nearly everything we need on the pitch, and therefore we train a lot – we train long, we train hard and we train often.”
The simple aim for Klopp is for the team to be successful. How that’s defined maybe depends on who you ask, but having given the players every chance last season, Klopp will be looking for three key things:
1. Concede Less Goals
By January this year, we’d conceded 7 goals from set pieces alone. Opposition teams were aware this was our Achilles heel and quite wisely, targeted the weakness. Klopp didn’t mince his words when he said, “First of all of course we know about this problem. I’m sorry to say it’s not a problem we can ignore.” Action has been taken and the two obvious answers come in the shape of the new signings – Jöel Matip and Loris Karius.
Simon Mignolet won’t win any popularity contests at Anfield and it’s hard to deny that a great number of goals were down to his individual errors. Karius was voted the second best keeper in Germany behind Neuer by fellow professionals and recorded 9 cleans sheets. Dejan Lovren seemed to be heading towards the scrap heap before Klopp revitalised the Croatian and despite cult status, Sakho isn’t a stranger to adversity himself. Matip was named in the Bundesliga team of the year and at 6 foot 4 is famed for his aerial ability. Not a bad solution for less than £5 million combined. Only a success for Klopp is the number in the goals against column reduces though.
2. Maintain 2016 goalscoring form
Having struggled to find the net at the end of Brendan Rodgers tenure, 2016 saw Liverpool find the net with regular occurrence. 6 against Villa, 5 against Norwich, 4 against Dortmund, Stoke and The Blue Noses, meant scoring wasn’t the problem. With the signing of Sadio Mane, possible addition of Georginio Wijnaldum and the possibility of Daniel Sturridge being fit, this shouldn’t be a major concern for Klopp. A supporting cast of Firmino, Ings, Origi and Coutinho is up there with any of the league’s top teams.
3. Build his team’s unity
This team is not his, it was inherited. Now he’s starting to get the players in he wants and ship out the ones he doesn’t, Klopp can begin to build the team in his ideology. “For a good player there’s two options: either go to the most successful club and then ride the wave, or you go to a really big club like Liverpool and say ‘now I’ll do something very special. If the players knew what is happening here, they would beat a path to our door”.
The scenes at the end of games against West Brom, Dortmund and Villarreal aren’t unique to the German. He expects everyone to buy into his ideas for the club, work to his rule and give their all or they will be ruthlessly cast aside.
There will be casualties as Klopp will be unwavering in these objectives. Players will arrive and many will depart Melwood. It won’t be personal, but the club has to come first. Nothing gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling more than a ruthless Liverpool manager carrying out a plan.