Jürgen Klopp’s message is reverberating loud and clear within the stands of the redeveloped Anfield. He demands that his players are not only talented but must also possess the mental strength to take on the expectations of the Kop faithful. The German is very firm that a player who is not in the right frame of mind will not be in the team, regardless of his abilities. And the squad has responded to him, and how!
Instead of wasting ridiculous amounts of money in the transfer market, Klopp went on the hunt for players who really bought into his philosophy and had the right attitude to win top honors for the club. He looked for players, who would always give everything to win and play for the team ahead of their own glory.
The Liverpool head coach has been really particular to have the team in the right mental setup. Bear hugs and appreciation when the team performs well and ruthlessly dropping the player when they disappoint; by not criticizing the under-performing players in the media, quite unlike some managers, his fabulous man management skills have worked wonders with the players.
Klopp firmly believes that a footballer’s ability and skills can only get him so far; it is the right mindset to work hard and play with the team that truly makes a world class player. James Milner admitted recently, “In the way we play, if one person doesn’t do it the whole system breaks down – both with and without the ball. Everyone has to be on the same page.”
This approach towards the game was what made his players achieve such exceptional success at the Westfalenstadion, and he will be hoping to replicate this with his current team.
When Milner was asked to play at left-back by the manager, instead of signing a specialist, Reds’ worst fears were realized. But the way he has taken to the new role is typical of his temperament, which has won the hearts of fans of every club that he has played at.
What makes him such a professional is his attitude of putting the needs of his coach and the team ahead of himself. Few players are able to put in a man of the match performances like he did against Hull while playing in a completely new position.
Former Arsenal defender, Tony Adams once remarked, “Play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they’ll remember the name on the back”. Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino are all examples of Liverpool players who have shown this kind of commitment to adapt to new roles, making the Reds one of the bookies’ favorites to win the title this season.
Henderson may not be a world class player by a long shot, but it is because of his hard work and confidence that the Liverpool captain has put in such crucial performances. Likewise, Lallana and Firmino have taken their game up a notch, as compared to last year!
Talented players who have presumably not shown the desire to work at the highest level, or adjust according to the team structure have been shown that they are expendable and can be easily replaced. Daniel Sturridge was discontent playing in a wider role but quickly acknowledged that he will play anywhere that the manager wants him to.
Danny Ings, who was dropped from the senior squad because of his long term injuries, has been playing regularly with the Under-23 squad, where has put in strong performances, and should slowly be making way into Klopp’s plans.
After being asked to leave in the summer, Sakho also seems to be making his way back, having featured in a reserves game earlier this week.
In a recent press conference before the league game against Hull City, the German head coach stressed the need to not be complacent against any team, and his team responded in the most magnificent fashion. Having lost to Burnley earlier in the season, when the players just did not show enough spirit, they were determined to set the record straight. No team is easy to play against, no game is a guaranteed victory; the hunger to win must be evident throughout for every single game.
When Brendan Rodgers left Anfield last year, the players were unhappy, disorganized and low on confidence. The exciting Jürgen Klopp came in and rejuvenated the weary minds and bodies. The players’ belief that with the right attitude to fight hard and win games, they are capable of beating any team in the league makes them dangerous, exhilarating and fun to watch!
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Steve Mcmetha.