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5 things Jurgen Klopp got right in his Liverpool rebuild – TKT Opinion

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Jurgen Klopp announced that he will leave Liverpool in January after a successful nine-year tenure at Anfield. He won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, Carabao Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in his stint in England.

Moreover, he re-established the fear factor at Liverpool and made them a formidable team. In fairness, he would have had a far more successful career had there not been another demigod in the league – Pep Guardiola – whose achievements need no prelude.

Klopp brought about a tactical identity for the Reds. They are viewed as a very potent attacking outfit with the ability to win the ball in quick time, thanks to their Gegenpressing which was introduced by none other than the German manager.

Jurgen Klopp: The man, the myth, the legend
Jurgen Klopp: The man, the myth, the legend

Arne Slot’s announcement as his successor is only pending official confirmation. It is fair to say that the incoming Feyenoord boss will have an easier task at hand at the club than Klopp did – much of it being down to the ex-Borussia Dortmund coach’s work.

Here is a look at the five things Klopp got right in his Liverpool rebuild during a reign that lasted for nearly a decade.

1. A gameplan for his successor

Jurgen Klopp succeeded Brendan Rodgers in very fragile circumstances at the club. Liverpool had not made great transfer acquisitions, more so after Luis Suarez left for Barcelona earlier that year and very importantly, lacked any selfhood on the pitch.

The 56-year-old’s main focus was to introduce a playing style at Anfield and he has done so to good effect. He signed the players, which bought into his philosophy instead of investing in big names by spending unreasonable amounts of cash.

Klopp's Legacy: Liverpool's Squad Succession - A Blueprint for Footballing Greatness.
Klopp’s Legacy: Liverpool’s Squad Succession – A Blueprint for Footballing Greatness.

Liverpool now have a squad which can play a certain kind of football. They have an energetic setup that is able to win possession with their high pressing style. The attackers have been subpar this season but their qualities cannot be doubted.

Arne Slot will be tasked with carrying forward a sound tactical setup, which will allow him to focus on the main goal – winning silverware. It would not have been possible without Klopp and it may be one of the most underrated factors of his time at Liverpool.

2. A sound Liverpool defensive unit

Jurgen Klopp inherited a Liverpool team that had no defensive structure. Simon Mignolet and Danny Ward were his goalkeeping options in 2014/15 and they were slowly but accurately replaced with Alisson Becker, one of the best in his role.

The centre-backs from the team nine years ago included Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure amongst others. These players were moved on too, for better options at the back and leading names like Virgil van Dik, Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip.

Virgil van Dijk & Alisson Becker: Pillars in Jurgen Klopp's defence
Virgil van Dijk & Alisson Becker: Pillars in Jurgen Klopp’s defence

Liverpool also did not have any noteworthy full-backs but now have Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who would effectively fit into any team in the world. Again, Klopp has been responsible for building a defensive roster for the longer term.

For context, in the 2013/14 season (last full season before Klopp took over), Liverpool conceded 50 times in the Premier League. In their title winning season – 2019/20 – the Reds allowed only 33 goals, thus signalling their immense progress.

Arne Slot will walk into a well-established setup and will not be required to make any radical changes to the defensive options already available.

3. A Liverpool attack with a lot of potential

Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane will be an attacking trident that remains synonymous with Jurgen Klopp’s spell at Liverpool, but the manager has done a tremendous job at rebuilding from the golden players available to him in the peak.

Liverpool still boast some leading names in their frontline, barring Salah. Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz were all investments from the past few years and though they have misfired this season, they have a rich pedigree under their belts.

Arne Slot has an exciting set of attackers to work with
Arne Slot has an exciting set of attackers to work with

Mohamed Kudus is also linked with Liverpool in the summer and will prove to be a wildcard for Slot. The Premier League giants could do with another winger’s signing, but their options at the end of Klopp’s time showcase a massive improvement.

It will be interesting to see how the offensive unit performs next season after a collectively lacklustre campaign this time around.

4. Development of homegrown Liverpool talent

Liverpool have a number of homegrown players in their squad, who have risen to prominence under Jurgen Klopp. Before the German took over, the academy had endured a barren run but there are now five graduates who are in the first-team.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has by far been the pick of the lot. His story to the summit of Liverpool has earned him the love and affection of the club’s faithful. The Englishman has also been tipped by many to eventually become the team’s captain.

The crème de la crème of the Liverpool academy
The crème de la crème of the Liverpool academy

Jarell Quansah and Conor Bradley are the other two defenders who have ascended from the youth ranks. They are still young and lack experience but certainly possess the potential to become consistent fixtures in the first-team.

Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott are also productions from the Liverpool academy. Elliott has enjoyed an especially great campaign, while Jones’ passing game is likely to make him a big part of Slot’s plans heading into next season.

5. A high standard in and out of the club

Liverpool had been through a rough patch in the decade before Klopp’s arrival and he has turned a corner at Anfield, thanks to a winning mentality and ability to connect with the fan base outside of the club as well.

There were doubts cast over Liverpool in the past and it would be remiss to not say that their ambitions had reached a questionable stage in the years prior to Klopp. However, they are now back to being a superpower with a demanding board and fans.

Liverpool are now expected to contend for the titles every season and have also become a regular participant in the European competitions. Though Champions League qualification eluded them last year, they have played in it consistently since 2017.

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It took the human elements of Klopp, the manager, to reconnect the fans and the club’s hierarchy. This will probably be Slot’s biggest challenge next season as he has a giant hole to fill in replacing the German manager’s personality.