This time, Jürgen Klopp cannot hide behind an insane schedule. The Liverpool coach, who has never hesitated in the past to say all the bad things he thought about the infernal paces imposed by UEFA and the leagues, benefited throughout the second half of September from an unprecedented working window during the season. But after this 17-day break due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the international break, his team again tripped over Brighton on Saturday. Two goals conceded after 17 minutes of play, and the rest spent rowing to finally get away with a crazy 3-3 draw at home, it’s a stain.
“The level of confidence is not extraordinarily high now,” noted the former Borussia player after the meeting with some expertise in understatement. Liverpool are on the street at the start of the season, 11 points behind leaders Arsenal in the Premier League (with one game less), spanked at Napoli in the Champions League after « the worst game since I’ve been there », as the called Klopp himself. Just a few months after coming close to a historic quadruple (C1, championship, Cup, League Cup), the Reds have fallen very low.
Mané where are you, not there?
“It’s hard to understand, said Arsène Wenger this weekend on beIN Sports. They have the same core of players, the same pattern of play. They are less effective in recovering the ball than before. They lost Mané, who was a high-caliber player, who had something [en lui], an aggressive attitude and determination. It’s difficult to measure the impact of his departure, in any case they miss something they had before. »
The departure of the Senegalese, whom no one wanted in Liverpool, is necessarily a blow. Especially since Darwin Nunez, his replacement bought 100 million euros, is only in the process of evolution. But that’s not enough to explain why Liverpool are floundering, with executives like Salah, Fabinho, Van Dijk or Alexander Arnold far from their standards. Do the speeches and methods of Klopp, who is entering his eighth season on the bench, still pass? The question is posed in England.
Klopp’s responsibility engaged
chilling commentary from Liverpool Echo Saturday, after Brighton: “We can no longer say that it’s just a bad start. This team faces a myriad of tactical, technical and mental issues, with an inability to start games with the right mentality. The responsibility of the German is engaged, in particular his reluctance to offer anything other than his immutable 4-3-3, which has of course proven itself but which everyone now knows by heart.
“For me, there are two problems,” Salim tells us. The 27-year-old, a Reds fan since he was 12, misses (almost) nothing of the matches and the news of his favorite team. Since 2018, he has been feeding the Liverpool news France Twitter account. He details: “Last season was exhausting for him, with 63 games, the quadruple that was looming and in the end he missed the two most important titles (Champions League and Premier League). It’s not easy to recover from that. The other thing is that he doesn’t have a plan B. He recognized it after Napoli, « it’s time for us to reinvent ourselves ». Yes, it’s time, even if personally I think it’s been since 2020 that things should be changed. »
An attentive observer, Salim saw that the German coach had tried a few shots over the past two seasons, in 4-2-3-1 or 4-2-4, but always during the match, and without ever putting them in place on the duration. “The problem is that you need the players who go with it and have the time. He has neither,” he poses. Half-hearted apologies. Matches every three days do not invite general revolution, of course, but do not prevent many coaches from making adjustments and thinking about how to become less readable.
As for the workforce, it is not so simple. Klopp doesn’t have the latitude of Guardiola at City (or Tuchel at Chelsea before he was fired), that’s for sure. The American owners of Fenway Sports Group (FSG) are not the type to waste, but do not veto a few targeted purchases that slam (Van Dijk, Alisson, Salah, Keita a few years ago, Nunez, Jota or Konaté more recently). “It’s true, but we should surely renew the workforce more in depth. The new cycle is engaged, but by small touches, gently. Perhaps a little too much, judge Salim. There is a lack of benches in key positions. »
Change according to Guardiola
Chief architect of Liverpool who have won in recent seasons – and this fairly strict recruitment policy – sporting director Michael Edwards left last summer. But a priori, no major upheaval is to be expected. His former assistant, Julian Ward, took over. Klopp has never publicly complained about this lack of leeway. This is what he said in the winter of 2021, when he had not had the requested reinforcements: « I am no longer a five-year-old child, who cries if he does not get what he wants. . What we need to do is improve in the areas we are in charge of, and not stand still, disappointed or frustrated by certain decisions. Words still valid today.
However, to last in the high spheres, change is needed. Pep Guardiola explained it in an interview with Rio Ferdinand for BT Sport last year. « Did you have the same team for your first title and your sixth title? » he asked the former Manchester United defender. No. You have to change things. With the same guys, for me it’s impossible. At first, they accept things. But when you won, then they accept less. You need to do this process [de changement]. »
Can Klopp breathe new life into Liverpool? Here we come to the annoying question. Because what the German has achieved is historic. You have to remember where the Reds were before he arrived and offered a Champions League, the first league title in thirty years, a European Super Cup, a Club World Cup and two national cups to supporters who did not no longer believed in it. With a coach like that, so installed, eminently respected by everyone, you never know when it’s time to say stop.
« If it were to stop, it would come from Klopp himself »
For Salim, the rulers will never dare to touch him. “He has their full support, because despite the constraints, he has always protected them publicly, has never blamed them, he recalls. If it were to stop, it would come from Klopp himself, from the fact that he feels he can no longer contribute anything. “However, against all odds, the double German champion decided last April to extend his contract for two years, until 2026, when he had often said that his adventure in Merseyside would not go further. than 2024. It’s good that he must have an idea behind his head to prevent the old couple he forms with Liverpool from wallowing in a deadly routine.
“Even if it’s complicated, I have confidence in him. A lot of fans think it’s the end, I don’t, ”says Salim. Anyway, we’ll be fixed pretty quickly. After the Rangers this Tuesday evening in the Champions League, Liverpool will face the leader Arsenal then their runner-up Manchester City in the Premier League in the space of a week. If we have to restart the machine, it’s now or never.