Jurgen Klopp’s latest tactical masterclass showcased why he is a level above any manager currently in world football.
The Liverpool manager’s decision to make five changes from the Brighton victory proved to be a stroke of genius as the European champions produced their most resounding victory of the season in the Merseyside derby.
Questions were asked and there was a social media storm when the team was announced one hour before kick-off on Wednesday night. Klopp not only made numerous tweaks to the team that limped over the line against Brighton but surprisingly left two of his irreplaceable front-three on the bench.
Both Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were absent from the starting XI for the first time since the Barcelona victory back in May. Klopp handed a first start of the season for Xherdan Shaqiri whilst Divock Origi led the line for only the third time this season.
However, any doubts were swiftly put to bed as Liverpool’s squad depth was showcased in abundance. Shaqiri – despite not starting for the Reds since May – scored on his return to the first team whilst Origi fired an impressive brace.
Both Adam Lallana and James Milner also came into the team to deliver accomplished performances as Liverpool scored five for the first time since March. Klopp’s decision to revert to a 4-2-3-1 was a masterstroke as the German maintained his unbeaten run against their rivals across Stanley Park.
The German manager completely overlooked the emotional attachment that comes with this fixture instead focussing on the vulnerability of a team in relegation form to acutely manage his squad whilst gifting players such as Firmino and Salah valuable rest time.
The latter wasn’t even drafted from the bench with the Egyptian struggling for form in recent weeks. Salah still looks to be recovering from a lingering ankle problem with the former Roma forward lacking his familiar potency in front of goal.
Klopp’s decision to hand Salah the night off was vindicated and some. The 2019 FIFA Coach of the Year similarly did a tactical tweak almost a year-to-the-day against Burnley back in December 2018. There were similar doubts in Lancashire on a cold midweek fixture before Liverpool fought back to claim an impressive 3-1 victory on the road.
There seems to be an obsession with the media questioning Klopp’s changes and once again it was the Liverpool boss proving why he is lauded as the best coach on the planet.
Liverpool’s 14th win of the season sees them maintain a gargantuan eight point at the top of the league table and the Red’s pursuit of perfection can be largely linked to the genius of their irreplaceable manager.