Jürgen Klopp is at his best, most entertaining self when he lets the madness take a hold of him. Be it a jovial reply in a post-match press conference, a joyous celebration or rant on the touchline it is his madness that draws people in. In a football world of clichés and boring, paint by numbers answers designed by PR experts, Klopp’s exuberant and energetic nature makes for a refreshing change. Klopp’s Liverpool side can be described in a similar manner. This is a team who are at the best when the madness sets in and the emotion takes over.
Klopp’s Liverpool Must Give Method to Their Madness
When they play at 100mph, relentlessly pressing their opponents into a daze and scoring a hatful of goals, they are nothing short of a pleasure to watch.
It was an indulgence to watch them on occasions, with performances in wins against the likes Manchester City, both domestically and in Europe, Roma and Maribor a treat for those who like their football fast, ruthless and full of goals.
No team, even that led by Pep Guardiola, is quite as breathlessly exciting as Klopp’s Liverpool when they are in full flight. When the madness takes a hold of them, they are unstoppable.
Without it, though, the beast becomes something timider, as defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final proved.
With Mohamed Salah taken off injured, Liverpool lost not only their talisman but something more. The Egyptian has been calm and collected in front of goal this season but he adds to that aforementioned madness.
His lightning pace and willingness to press is the catalyst to his teammates to join in. He is key to the whole system that Klopp wants his team to operate in. Without him, Liverpool are a little less mad.
What was left was not only disappointing but far behind the level one would expect from a Champions League finalist.
In stark contrast Madrid remained patient, controlling possession and working Liverpool in the manner of an expert boxer biding his time before the killer blow. That, of course, came from Gareth Bale.
If it hadn’t, though, it would have come from somewhere else because Madrid are cold and calculating, they can play at a frenetic pace and blow sides away but they can also control a game and see them off in that manner too.
So too is their now-former manager, Zinedine Zidane, who remained patient, made his move at the right moment and received his reward for it almost instantly.
It is something all the elite level sides can do and Liverpool cannot. That is why they continue to struggle against teams who are happy to sit back. These teams simply refuse to succumb to the madness and Liverpool don’t have a Plan B.
The next step for them and Klopp is to add method to the madness; it has been proven that the former is not enough on its own to bring success.
Klopp must show he has the tactical nous play in different ways from the fast-paced, Gegenpressing he cherishes. He must show he can set up his side to control games as well as they often dominate them.
Fortunately for the Reds, it appears he plans to do just that. The addition of Virgil van Dijk in January has brought composure and control to a defence that often left Liverpool fans tearing their hair out.
The signing of Fabinho, a true defensive midfielder, shows Klopp wants to bring that level of control into midfield. As does the continued link to Nabil Fekir.
The Frenchman is most at home in the number ten position, controlling games from the middle of the park. He would bring further control and composure to Liverpool’s midfield.
After all, a number ten does not operate in madness. That is the opposite of what they are there to do. Liverpool’s efforts to add someone who can bring saneness to his team shows he knows they need it.
Defeat in Kiev was disappointing and on another day things could have gone differently. It did, though, show that madness is not enough to be the best.
Klopp’s Liverpool must now take the next step and show that they have more in their locker. If they can do so, Europe will truly start to worry.
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