Free Friday: Klopp the Builder, Can He Risk It?

Free Friday: Klopp the Builder, Can He Risk It?
February 2, 2018 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday

This week’s posts selected by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

This gives you some idea of the range of debate on the site and the type of articles published. If you’d like to be part of it, there’s a ‘Subscribe’ tab at the top of the page. 

1 – KloppyD on taking risks in the January transfer window:

I think the basic misconception most fans have (and I include myself in this category) is that because we aren’t party to the inside track on stuff at the club, we are forced to assume that the public face of the club IS the club. And anyone with any sense of PR/Comms would know this is never the case.

Because we’re not going to hear from Klopp – “fuck, we thought we had XXX lined up and it didn’t work out and we’d never have let Phil go if we thought we couldn’t get him” we naturally assume there was no plan.

You could say “well don’t sell until its nailed on” but maybe they thought it was.

Personally, I don’t think Klopp feels the team is as strong without Phil as it was with him – because that doesn’t make any sense.

We ARE weaker becasue Phil was such an integral part of the team.

However, there are players who COULD have a greater impact in the second half of the season than we may think – see Raheem Sterling’s brilliant second half of 2013/2014 when a lot of fans wanted him sent out on loan in the XMAS window.

But of course, its a risk.

Klopp’s made a decision (or been forced to) to go with what he has for the rest of the season. We’re just going to have to back him regardless and hope it all works out. The worst thing we could have done is what I think other clubs are doing and sign for the next four months and potentially be saddled with crap that means our room for new signings in the Summer is limited.

I admire him even more in a funny way. He’s taken the tougher option for the good of the club in the medium term and backed himself and his team to make this work.

2 – MikeH on why he is backing Klopp the builder:

Or maybe he is genuinely torn as to what his next move should be in his career?

We all sit here hypothesising about scenarios but quite often in our love for Liverpool we ignore the human elements that go into so many of these decisions.

In my experience our strengths are often our weaknesses too, they’re just too sides of the same coin. Determination and stubbornness is an obvious example.

Klopp’s very humanity is why he resonates with so many of us. It’s why we get to sign players like Keita and VVD but it’s also part of why he will let a Coutinho go or a Sturridge. He doesn’t just see a body, he sees a human being and treats them as such. He knows that this won’t be the place for everyone and he wants these young men to fulfil their dreams.

As a fan, that can bother me as Liverpool may “suffer”. As a human being though, I recognise the immensity of his spirit. It’s why he gets the club and the fans. He is the perfect fit for us warts and all. He is incentivised and no doubt desperate to win. He makes the decisions to the best of his abilities with his heart in the right place. He’s not perfect but I have no doubt he knows that. Life is not perfect but I’m sure he knows that too.

He is a builder and that takes time. CL is not a given for any team in the EPL. Equating actions now with outcomes later is pretty pointless and implies a clear causal effect. Life is just not like that. There are way too many random factors.

Players only emerge with game time. Harry Kane is a prime example..he almost happened by accident. In a parallel universe he gets sold for peanuts to some lower league team. Sturridge is never going to be the future of Liverpool. Solanke might be. Ings may be the 2nd coming of Dirk Kuyt. I’m excited to see what happens because that is the wonder of football and of life.

Klopp has proved he is a great manager. He is admired by everyone. He’s here to win. I might not understand everything he does because clearly I know more than him :). I’m happy to back him for those reasons and his track record of winning through development.

3 – Daniel Rhodes on modern day fuming:

I’m coming to the conclusion that this football fan thingymajig is very different these days, and puts me off more than pulls me into it.

When I meet up with my friends we talk about Liverpool, we discuss the last game, we discuss the next game, we discuss potential outgoings and incomings, all the usual stuff. Perfectly normal football debate.

Nobody gets angry. Nobody wants the manager or the owners out. Nobody wants to protest outside the ground. Nobody claims to know more than the manager or those involved in transfers.

That’s pretty much how it’s been for years, and is what it feels like interacting with folk on here.

Now… I’ve had texts, Facebook messages, Tweets, hundreds of WhatApp messages, and this was just yesterday. Telling me I’m”high-minded and weird” for even suggesting we trust the manager (even with the caveat that I would want to sign x player or two). I’m an “apologist”. Many on here are beacons of mediocrity that want the club to fail. That’s right, we are willingly and knowingly putting forward arguments that inspire the club to long term failure. That’s what we want… What the fucking fuck is going on?

Having listened to the Klopp book a couple of times I think, and I say this with a heavy heart, that he is disappointed with our fanbase. And maybe even the club. Or huge sections of it. The constant demands on his time in press conferences about the most inane things. The lack of atmosphere. The fume, the constant fume and rage to BUY, BUY, BUY.

Everyone knows how much I rated Sturridge on here, but you’d think we’d just sold peak Suarez the way fans – who only weeks ago were pillorying him for all sorts, now react to his leaving.

Is this just society? Why aren’t I getting angry? Am I weird? I’ve asked both these questions to myself.

Why am I getting more annoyed with people who I respect suddenly throwing their toys out of the pram than our squad? Some of the reactions remind me of my two year old when I won’t give her another lollipop after she’s just had one. There’s clearly cogent and fair arguments on either side, which is great, but so many are absolute, black and white projection of their own anxieties; if we don’t sign anyone, we are finishing lower than sixth is a bet I was offered yesterday by some random fan. If we do, and go out of the CL, then Klopp has to answer to the owners. It is his risk. No-one else. He might be highly rated by the owners but if you keep taking risks like that and failing you won’t last long, regardless of who you are. He knows that too. But it feels like we don’t want to use his qualities, we’d just rather bring someone in than improve those we have.

Anyway, rambling a bit now. I have a nuclear bunker that I’m planning on going to live in tomorrow if we fail to win tonight. See you all on Feb 2nd 🙂

4 – Egremontcosmo’s round-up of current affairs LFC-wise!:

First time I’ve logged in to TTT for a while, but believe me I’ve wanted to ever since the Swansea defeat (the same Swansea that’s just beaten Arsenal). When I come to TTT, I like to have ample time to do so, because it’s fucking worth it. I find stuff going round in my head that I could only say on here, but I don’t get the time and then I forget half of it!

Normally, when we lose, I cross the street to avoid Twitter. It’s full of gobshites and is depressing. I don’t even care for it when Liverpool have won. But for some reason, I tucked me keks into me socks and went a-strolling where the streets have no shame, where context equates to hate-speech, where idiots now take 280 characters to say fucking nowt where they only used to take 140. And I’ll tell you what, it didn’t depress me. For the first time, it galvanised me.

Fuck every single last one of them that wants Klopp out and FSG gone. Fuck the lot of them that wants to convince themselves as much as everybody else that a world-class manager wins every game, every league and every trophy as soon as he turns up. If your tweeting reveals you haven’t a bit of feeling for the preservation of Anfield, that storied ground – the Theatre of Achievements – which would by now, if not for FSG’s determined and expert intervention, have been ploughed up and turned into yet more flats for fucking buy-to-let landlords to overcharge rent on, then get fucking lost. If you want better than Klopp, stop watching sport. Stop watching it.

I’ll take Klopp winning nothing rather than be a bloody cretin who’ll only support a man once he’s won the league.

Of course, like most subscribers to this exemplary website, I’m on the wrong side of the experts when it comes to LFC current affairs. Like Christian Purslow, who obviously had the door bang him on the arse too hard when FSG showed him it. And Joey Barton, again gamely filling in for the town drunk who was temporarily unavailable for comment. It has tipped me over the edge this morning to read what Paul said about bad results being bad for his livelihood when these people get paid a living to be complete fucking dongs. Aye well, up yours to the lot of them. I know who’s bloody side I’m on.

As for Coutinho, I lost count of the number of games under Rodgers/early Klopp where, against opposition just like Swansea and West Brom, he was no more use out there than me. Endlessly trying to score that same goal with that same shot, getting nothing but jeers from an increasingly jubilant opposition crowd. Yes, I know there was the other Phil, the one who seemingly had eyes in his arse and would make more expensively assembled teams look stupid, but he used to hide. I watched the Barcelona game the other night and they only won after he got the hook (I realise he’s been injured). They were struggling to break down an organised, but dull, Alaves. Ring any bells? There’s probably some Catalan dumb-ass over the water, moaning about how his team hasn’t strengthened enough in the January window. (And another thing, we apparently needed his free-kick expertise against Swansea. Because Salah’s free-kick was shit, wasn’t it? Fuck off.)

I know I’ve written all this down on the wrong thread, and apologies for my language, but I haven’t got anywhere else to put it except TTT. All the achievements of this great football club, all the great players, managers and supporters that have gone before, they shouldn’t be borne like a dead weight – they’re roaring the team on! We’ve got Jürgen Klopp for god’s sake!  Where else would you be? What would you have? It’ll be a cold, cold day in hell when any amount of the Twitter/pundit class gets any credence from me. Like I say, I know who’s side I’m on.

5 – AI on some of the links and rumours surrounding Liverpool, and Klopp’s potential take on them:

It’s astonishing how little fans rate our players and think they’re easily improved upon. What’s perhaps a little easier as to understand is the confusion over why the club back out of the moves for players they seemingly want. It’s arguably this part which appears to have infuriated ‘fans’ the most.

Mahrez, for example. One of the first names put out in the ether by the ITKs once Little Phil departed. Obviously great production for a wide player in this league. He’s probably elite and almost certainly the best player outside the top 6. Looking at what he brings to the table, it’s a relatively safe bet he’d have contributed in a meaningful way. He’s a polished player who has produced in multiple seasons at a high level.

So why not? Because we all know what the asking price was. If you’re playing upwards of 90 million (even in oil-rich City’s case), you want a player that’s going to be crucial to what you do.  It’s not that you’re speculating with that money on Mahrez, just that you’re overpaying for essentially a back-up to Salah. Mahrez plays predominantly on the right, so it’s not an obvious ‘rotation-option’ in the way Mane is who can play either wing. Liverpool holding their powder dry and potentially investing in a younger, more versatile wide player in the summer makes perfect sense.

With Lemar, he’s an intriguing talent with obvious playmaking skills. Left-footed creator that would offer greater attacking balance to a side that relies to heavily on midfield bruisers. Liverpool are clearly lacking in the midfield creator department with the departure of Phil and the injury struggles of Lallana.

So why not? Because Lemar is a great talent but note the word ‘talent’. He’s yet to produce at an elite level for long enough to be sure you’d be buying the thing you think you’re buying. It’s apparent Klopp views Lemar as a player he can help develop rather than world class contributor who will take Liverpool’s midfield to the next level. There was a lot of twitter-clamour for his signing but it would be wild to overpay for a player that much like Lallana, has been as injured for the majority of the season and is, for all extensive purposes, still unproven. If Liverpool are really looking to ‘invest’ in Lemar, you’d want to give him the best shot of succeeding. A summer move makes more sense.

The book on Keita has been written many times over. The fume over not being ‘willing’ to pay the extra 20 million overlooks the obvious tensions that have complicated the deal from the beginning. As much as you want the player, you cannot bend to the will and changing demands of the selling club. The club didn’t pay up because its a ‘pride-thing’ but because they’re establishing good practice. In professional sports, successful teams generally develop and then stick to key principles that underpin how they approach their respective player market. Being both efficient with what you do and disciplined in how you execute it, is essential if you’re trying to gain an advantage on competitors. You can’t have the attitude of “oh go on then, just this once”. You have to be stubborn.

We all know what Liverpool’s approach has been with all this. Klopp’s demands on his players are so specific that recruitment is a bit of double-edged sword. In reality, not in twitter scout world, there are very few players that would actually improve Liverpool and this goes some way to explaining why the club have been so successful with transfers recently. The know what they want, it’s just that there’s very little of it going around.

Despite being rich, Liverpool don’t have money to invest on expensive back-ups. They have to be smart with their money. Any move they make now has consequences on who they can buy in the future. Efficiency is the name of the game. Make fewer mistakes and you get better faster. Liverpool are doing that.

6 – Finally, a barnstormer from Russel in the form of the message to the FSGouters:

Dear FSGouter’s,

25 Premier League games have been played by all the clubs as I write this.  Manchester City are, and always have been, running away with the league due to their incredible, record-breaking winning streak, and currently are sitting 15 points above second place.  The only defeats they have had this season in all competitions came in a dead rubber Champions League tie where they played the reserves, and at Anfield against Liverpool.  They have conceded 18 goals in total in the league this season – 4 of those goals (aka 22%) against came in that game at Anfield.  No one else in Europe has laid a hand on them, never mind outplayed them over the course of the 90.  And yet you complain.

In terms of goals scored, well, naturally Manchester City top that table as well, with an incredible 73 goals scored in the league: an average of very nearly 3 per game!  But who is second, you ask?  Why, Liverpool, of course!  57 goals at this stage is more than 2 per game on average, and while it is distant from 73, it is also distant from 49, which is the next best goals haul in the league held jointly by Manchester United and Spurs.  Liverpool have scored 32 goals on the road in the league as well, which is finally somewhere that we’re better than City (and the rest of the league for that matter).  Surely our goals return should be the least of your concerns?  And yet you complain.

Certainly our defence could use some work.  We’ve shipped 29 goals in the league so far this term (the 5th least), and the last few seasons Liverpool have conceded around 50 goals in the league each season, which is clearly not good enough no matter how many you score.  Brendan Rodgers demonstrated this quite adequately in 13/14 by managing only to finish second despite scoring more than 100 goals.  To this end FSG and Klopp have spent a world record fee during the January transfer window to get Virgil van Dijk, a player the manager feels is the best fit for our system having waited patiently for him since last summer rather than wasting money taking a punt on some other player.  I would have thought we must acknowledge that this clearly shows the manager is aware of our failings and is attempting to address them IN THE BEST WAY.  Obviously van Dijk will take time to settle, as he’s coming off a long injury followed by a half season of struggling for fitness, and must now acclimatise both to his new manager’s high-intensity system and his new team mates.  He’s not Superman, and I expect you to understand that.  Speaking of the defence, how easy it is to forget the massive improvement in Alberto Moreno this season, or that Nathaniel Clyne hasn’t kicked a ball for us this season due to injury?  I would also have thought that the success of Andrew Robertson since signing in the summer, as well as the future arrival of Naby Keita after the World Cup further reinforces the effort being put into our defence BY OUR OWNERS, who you somehow criticise because they aren’t oil barons and aren’t willing to load the club with debt ala the Glazers.  Have you forgotten the lessons taught us by Hicks and Gillett?  And yet you complain.

I know you’re upset about us losing two games in a week – we all are.  But you really need to keep things in perspective.  Liverpool have lost 5 games in total this season (all competitions).  Of the rest, only City (1) and United (4) have lost fewer than 5 in the league alone (never mind all competitions, where Liverpool won 7-0 in the Champions’ League TWICE in the group stage [a record], including equalling the best away result score EVER in the history of the European Cup with one of those, as well as set a new bar for English clubs in terms of goal scoring in the group stage – oh, and we topped our group which, to hear you tell it is something that every club does every season despite that being impossible).  At the end of January, Liverpool were last both in the top 4 in the Premier League AND through to the Champions’ League quarter final in 2009!  And yet you complain.

As it stands in the league right now, Liverpool are the only team to win 4 of their last 5 league fixtures.  Manchester United sit second in the table, a mere three points ahead of us.  Chelsea sit fourth, below us on both goal difference and goals scored.  Both these rivals have engaged in panic transfer buys this January as they have seen their lead over us erode with time.  But what happens if those purchases are not enough?  What happens if Liverpool finish 2nd this season despite all your ranting?  Will you man up and accept you were wrong to be so critical?  Why do I doubt you will?

Bill Shankly (you’ve heard of him, right?) said it best: “If you can’t support us when we lose or draw, don’t support us when we win.”  Your incessant whining about trivialities annoys those of us fans who are SUPPORTERS of this club – rather go support Everton for a lesson in humility.  Stop being loud-mouthed fools who can’t appreciate how good this Liverpool team is, and who can’t appreciate how important the excellent relationship between FSG, Klopp and the transfer committee is for the future success of this great club.  Open your eyes.  The world of football is a crazy one where you don’t always get the result you deserve, and that is what makes it interesting!

Get off the mindless, Twitter-troll-fuelled hatred bandwagon.  Stop being glory-seekers and become actual supporters of this club.  You might find you start enjoying football once again

Articles published on The Tomkins Times this week:

Sunday January 28th:

Liverpool FC Does Not Exist To Win Trophies, by Paul Tomkins.

Monday January 29th:

17/18 Premier League Preview | Matchweek 25 | Huddersfield Town (A), by Gary Fulcher.

The Proof That Jürgen Klopp Improves So Many Players, by Paul Tomkins.

Tuesday January 30th:

The Tomkins Times Exists To Promote Mediocrity For Liverpool FC. Mediocrity Rules!, by Paul Tomkins.

Wednesday January 31st:

Post-Match Analysis: Huddersfield Town (A), by Daniel Rhodes.

My Day At The Match – Huddersfield Town (A), Jan.30th 2018, by Chris Rowland.