Can Klopp Bring the Kop to the Top?

There is no doubt that Jürgen Klopp is a high calibre manager. His work with Borussia Dortmund sent shockwaves around the world when his team managed to rise from 13th in the Bundesliga constantly struggling to stay in the league, to back-to-back titles in the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 seasons as well as winning the DFB-Pokal in 2012. However, having been announced as Liverpool manager, the question arises, can he bring a somewhat dishevelled Liverpool team back to the top of the Premier League amid some of the most competitive football played in England for years?

It is fair to say that Brendan Rodgers was committed to gaining glory for Liverpool; the fact that his team looked on track to win the Premier League in 2013/14 is a great testament to his managerial prowess, having been pipped to the title by Manchester City by only 2 points. He made sure to make the team his team by bringing in 31 players over his 3 year stint as boss, spending £291,550,000. Signings such as Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, and more recently Danny Ings and Nathaniel Clyne all seem to be well-calculated buys with a view for the future. However, bad acquistions such as Fabio Borini (bought from Roma for £10.5million) and Mario Balotelli (bought from AC Milan for £16million) simply failed to gel with the team, and so do nothing but tarnish Rodgers image. The fact that he had not won a trophy in his 3 years as manager, coupled with the fact that Liverpool currently sit tenth in the Premier League, meant that the fans and the board slowly lost their trust in him. Enter Jürgen Klopp.

Balotelli was a flop under Brendan Rodgers, but could he brought back into the fray by Klopp?
Balotelli was a flop under Brendan Rodgers, but could he be brought back into the fray by Klopp?

Not only is Klopp experienced in turning a team into title-winners in a small number of years, he has managed his team in the final of the Champions League, despite not winning it, this bodes well for Liverpool’s chances of tasting European success once again in the near future. European football has been a key goal for Liverpool since the Shankly and Paisley years, therefore, for Klopp, qualification for the Champions League would be the first step on the long road to becoming a Liverpool legend.

Liverpool’s league record this season cannot be ignored, having scored 8 and let in 10 goals in 8 games, it is obvious where the frailties lie. The constant injuries to Daniel Sturridge over the past 2 seasons have been a nightmare for Liverpool, if Klopp wants to succeed, he needs Sturridge to be on top goal-scoring form, ideally replicating his tally of 24 goals in 2013/14. Admittedly however, new signings Christian Benteke and Danny Ings have shown their ability to score goals too, with the former scoring a wonderful overhead kick goal-of-the-season contender against Manchester United in September. If Klopp was to get all three of his main strikers pulling in the same direction, Liverpool could very well become a force to reckon with.

Klopp needs time for his Liverpool players to trust him and learn his style of football.
Klopp needs time for his Liverpool players to trust him and learn his style of football.

Of course, with Klopp arriving late to the party, he has no time to tweak his team to his own style, he has no pre-season with which to test out formations and strategies, he has mere days to enforce his playing style upon his team and stamp his philosophy on this struggling Liverpool team. Moreover, he is used to having the winter break in Germany. During this break, he would take his team on a training camp in Spain; it clearly worked for him last season where his Dortmund side went from 17th at the start of the winter break, to 7th at the end of the season, winning over 50% of their remaining games and ensuring European football for Dortmund once again. He has no such luxury in the Premier League, he must get to work straight away without a break to bond his team together. The biggest enemy for Klopp and Liverpool this year is not Everton, nor is it any of the London clubs, nor is it even Manchester United… it is time.

There are severe doubts as to whether Klopp can win anything this year, the team he is inheriting is already off the pace, however, like all managers, Klopp must be given time. If Liverpool do not make it into the top four this year, he must be given the chance to have a fresh season next year. In the Summer he must build his own squad around what he already has, and he must mould them together to play his own brand of football.

 

Víctor Valdés Frozen Out: 4 Other Players Who Have Been Left Out in the Cold

It is no secret that former World Cup, UEFA European Championship and Champions League winner Víctor Valdés has been frozen out by Louis Van Gaal in recent months at Manchester United. In July 2015, Van Gaal announced that Valdés had been transfer listed and was subsequently not given a squad number for the upcoming 2015/16 Premier League season after he allegedly refused to play for the Under-21 team. Since then, Valdés has not appeared for the club, finding himself far down the pecking order, behind David De Gea, Sergio Romero and the youngster, Sam Johnstone. Recent reports even go as far to say that Valdés has not been allowed a locker at the club’s Carrington training ground and must train alone, whilst simultaneously suffering with the humiliation of being left out of the official Manchester United team photograph despite still being contracted to the club.

Valdés giving an insight into the life of a Louis Van Gaal outcast. (Instagram: @vicvaldes1)
Valdés giving an insight into the life of a Louis Van Gaal outcast. (Instagram: @vicvaldes1)

Despite suffering from becoming an outcast at the club, Valdés is not alone in being frozen out of a big Premier League team; here are four more players who have suffered a similar fate to the isolated shot-stopper.

Nicolas Anelka – Chelsea (2011-2012)

Anelka was a servant of Chelsea Football Club for four years, however, it is fair to say that he didn't leave the club on the best of terms. (Facebook: Nicolas Anelka)
Anelka was a servant of Chelsea Football Club for four years, however, it is fair to say that he didn’t leave the club on the best of terms. (Facebook: Nicolas Anelka)

On 3rd December 2011, Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas announced that Anelka, along with centre-back Alex, had both handed in transfer requests. After completing a move to Shanghai Shenhua on 1st January 2012, Anelka made claims against Villas-Boas stating that he had been forced to train with the youth team. Furthermore, the former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Liverpool man revealed that he was forced to use a separate changing room away from his first team compatriots, was left off the invite list to the club’s Christmas banquet and, to add insult to injury, he was banned from using the first team car park, having to use the local community car park; in short, Anelka was well and truly frozen out at Chelsea.

Carlos Tevez – Manchester City (2011-2012)

 

Tevez famously was left out in the cold by Roberto Mancini after his infamous refusal to play.
Tevez famously was left out in the cold by Roberto Mancini after his infamous refusal to play. (GettyImages)

On 27th September 2011, Carlos Tevez found himself on the bench against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. With his side 2-0 in the second half, Roberto Mancini called upon the Argentine to come off of the bench and help his team win the game. What followed was, in Tevez’s words, a ‘misunderstanding’ between himself and the manager as he refused to enter the game, much to the condemnation of pundits all over the footballing world. As a result of his refusal, Tevez was initially suspended for 2 weeks, however after the involvement of the club’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, he was placed on gardening leave and was frozen out of the training ground until the situation had been resolved; the only football he could play during this period was with his international team, Argentina.

Florent Malouda – Chelsea (2012-2013)

Malouda cost Chelsea £4million after refusing to leave the club and seeing out his contract.
Malouda cost Chelsea £4million after refusing to leave the club and seeing out his contract.(florentmalouda.com)

Florent Malouda, the second player on this list who has been frozen out at Chelsea,  like Nicolas Anelka decided to hand in a transfer request after becoming disillusioned at the club. Despite receiving various offers from clubs away from Chelsea including from his former club, Lyon, Malouda insisted on not taking a pay cut to leave the club. So he remained at Chelsea throughout the season and, having been left out of the squad for every competition, there was no way back for him. After refusing to apologise for criticising manager Roberto Di Matteo’s training regime, and pulling out of a proposed move away from the club, Malouda was made to train with the Chelsea Development Team. The former French international saw out his contract and was released on 30th June 2013; this whole debacle cost Chelsea over £4 million in wages paid to Malouda.

Emmanuel Adebayor – Tottenham Hotspur (2013-2014)

It is fair to say that Adebayor and Villas Boas never saw eye-to-eye.
It is fair to say that Adebayor and Villas Boas never saw eye-to-eye. (GettyImages)

Emmanuel Adebayor is much like Marmite: he is either loved and hated, depending on where your allegiances lie. André Villas Boas (seemingly our pantomime villain in this list) was by no means a fan of the Togolese striker. At the start of the 2013-2014 season, Villas Boas ordered Adebayor to train with the Spurs youth team and was left out of the official Tottenham Hotspur team photograph, reportedly due to the fact that the striker was not in favour of Villas Boas’s training methods, and questioned him publicly about them. For the rest of Villas Boas’s tenure he was well and truly frozen out, and he played only 45 minutes, as a half time substitute in the 6-0 drubbing to Manchester City at the Etihad. Karma came swiftly as Villas Boas left the club by ‘mutual consent’ on 16th December 2013. The incoming manager, Tim Sherwood instantly gave Adebayor his striker berth back, and was well repaid when he ended the season with 14 goals in 25 appearances.