‘Klopp to the Kop’ is what the posters said after Liverpool owners hired the charismatic former Borussia Dortmund coach as their new manager. The Merseysiders had languished in mid table for far too long, and finally they seemed to have found a manager capable of propelling the club to its desired level. However, this being the Premier League, the toughest and most competitive league in the world, and nothing must be taken for granted by the German coach, no matter how confident and positive the Anfield faithful seems to be. Here are 3 things he must do to ensure Champions League qualification for Liverpool next season:
1. KEEP STURRIDGE FIT AT ANY COST
Ever since his breakout season where he almost took Liverpool to the title in 2013-14, Daniel Sturridge has not had a consistent string of games. Injuries have thawed his progress, with the previous manager Brendan Rodgers failing to get him fit. Jurgen Klopp’s biggest challenge will be to ensure that the English striker is up and running as early as possible, for when fit, the former Chelsea striker is one of the deadliest finishers in the league.
Not only this, he also has the natural instinct of a true striker, which means he gets into goalscoring positions, runs off the back off defenders, goes out wide and then cuts in to swerve the ball into the far corner. All these give an extra dimension to Liverpool’s game, and if Jurgen Klopp wants to mount a plausible challenge on those top 4 spots, he and his medical team have their work cut out to get and keep Daniel Sturridge fit at any cost.
2. WORK OUT THE PERFECT STRATEGY
With Ings out for rest of the season(most probably), Liverpool have Benteke and Sturbridge as their options upfront. However, both these players are of completely different types, as Benteke is your typical no. 9, bulky, strong, can hold up the ball and heads very well, while Sturridge is more of your false no. 9. Someone who drops and cuts in, scores goals and stretches defences.
As such, both these players require a completely different kind of service, and Klopp has to figure out the perfect way to set his team up. If he goes for a 4-2-3-1, which he probably will, he has to ensure that those 3 behind the lone striker can not only exchange positions and drag defenders out of their position and set up perfect through passes, but also are capable of whipping in crosses and working hard to keep the shape intact. In the Spurs game, wherein the entire Liverpool team ran 116 kilometres in total, it is obvious that the onus will be on running hard, pressing the opposition and in general, being industrious is how Klopp wants it done. However, whether or not that is the correct approach, we will have to wait and watch.
3. CORRECT THE LEAKY DEFENCE
Liverpool’s defence has been their Achilles heel for far too long. They have let in goals and that too at times when such mistakes have cost them dearly. 2 years ago, their defensive lapses at Selhurst Park cost them the league title, and there has been no sign of that improving ever since. Klopp has Sakho, Can and Skrtel as his Centre back options and he has to choose the perfect combination depending on the opposition.
Sakho is easily Liverpool’s best defender, Canis an intelligent player capable of playing eitherat Holding midfield or at Centre back, while Skrtel is a monster at the back. At fullback, Clyne has had a decent season so far, while Moreno has been okay at left back. Klopp has to Marshall these 5 players at least till January, so he has to choose wisely. Moreover, he also has to ensure that his centre backs start giving him the aerial threat while attacking during set pieces, for that is always an important source of goals.