Jurgen Klopp says he wishes he could have worked with Steven Gerrard. So how would the boss use the former Liverpool captain?
This Is Anfield asked Jurgen Klopp a seemingly difficult question this week – if he could work with any player, past or present, who would it be?
“That’s easy. It’s Stevie [Gerrard],” said Klopp. “When we played in Sydney three or four years ago, we didn’t have a proper team and we invited [Steve] McManaman, [Daniel] Agger, Jamie [Carragher] and Stevie.
“They were all really good but Stevie – what a player he still was then! I think he was already retired but maybe a youth coach here. Incredible.
“Stevie and me together in the roles, he as the man on the pitch and me as a coach that would have been nice. So it’s Stevie.”
It’s an answer that’s easy to love, of course. Gerrard is in the discussion as the greatest Liverpool player ever and we wish we’d seen him play under Klopp, too.
But that begs the question – how would he have fit in?
Gerrard under Klopp
Honestly, we have no idea how good Gerrard would be at Klopp’s pressing game. Disciplined defensive work was never his strong suit and the captain always worked best in a free role.
But it’s Gerrard – we’ve got to believe he’d have picked it up as he did just about everything else in the game.
So the role surely would have been on the right of a midfield three. Largely where Jordan Henderson is currently playing, in fact. Strangely, it’s a role Gerrard never really played for Liverpool.
In a midfield three, he’d always be an advanced attacking midfielder with two players sitting behind him. His peak arguably gave him complete freedom to attack as Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso kept the midfield secure.
But in an aggressive midfield, we think Gerrard would have slotted in on the right of the three quite well. It allows him to play centrally but also drift out wide-right, where he spent a season thriving for Liverpool.
Rafa Benitez moved him out wide in the 2005/06 campaign, resulting in 23 goals in all competitions. Maybe we’d have seen similarities in Klopp’s system from that side.
We also love the idea of Gerrard running beyond a player like Roberto Firmino. The Scouser shone when running beyond Fernando Torres – another striker who liked to pull defenders about. In fact, Gerrard got 45 goals in two seasons playing the role at his peak.
Torres obviously did it in a different way to Firmino but the result would have been similar. Plenty of space to drive into from deep.
So in short, and to the surprise of no one, we think Gerrard would have excelled in Klopp’s Liverpool system. In an attacking sense, anyway – the jury’s out on the pressing but we’re willing to forgive that.