Posts selected by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.
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1 – Tony M on the mental and psychological parts of the game:
Better that Alisson’s rashness came with a price early in the season and without a points cost on this single occasion. If Klopp praised how the keeper reacted afterwards, then the lesson learnt will hopefully have longevity. In fact, our Manager seemed to be bodily miming to him on the touchline, verbally translated as: Why didn’t you just fucking kick it out? Precisely. A time, a place, and all that.
To be fair, if the ‘Cruyff turn’ had been successful, many would have been joyfully relishing the entertainment value, as they did when Alisson flicked the ball over an advancing opponent’s head in another game. So, that’s a lesson for all of us, too.
On the mental and psychological side of the game, we have new challenges and it is not the time for rashness or complacency. We entered this campaign as CL runners up, fancied title contenders and on the back of significant summer spending. It raises the emotional stakes somewhat and our players now have to deal with scrutiny in those contexts. A different pressure than most of them have been used to.
But they have coped admirably up to now, with 12 out of 12 points, which is more important than having done so winning 4 nil on every occasion. Games come with differing complexions, incident and opponents. So the eclectic ability to win ugly, grind out, get lucky, win spectacularly, convincingly and marginally, is the template of desire. We have the tools to match. So far, so good.
2 – Mark C on the start of the season, and what can we learn from previous seasons?
To me, and I think we have seen this every season under Klopp, the team is not designed to hit its straps in the opening weeks.
Even our bigger wins in the opening month under Klopp have come with the caveat that our opponents have been off kilter (Arsenal away in 16/17, Arsenal home in 17/18)…
It seems as though the opening month is almost an extension of pre-season under Klopp, and indeed, judging from his previous two completed seasons, it is only from the third month, at the end of the second international break, that the team has played at full tilt.
This season, due to the evolved nature of the team now, and the top quality additions, I believe Klopp wants us to be close to our straps during the second month (and we will need to be, with a monstrous fixture list impending).
But, I still believe we will need to wait into late October to see the best of this team, with the good news being we look more than capable defensively of getting a series of good results during September even whilst we are not yet on our topmost form.
In any event, the opening month of the season is not about form from a league table perspective, it is about results and we have got the maximum.
The aim must be to keep pace with City at the top of the table until the form and fluidity of our game reaches its apex, and then see who can end top of the pile.
3 – ElIndio on the methods of Klopp, with added video footage!
In the summer of 2017, Liverpool traveled to far East.
The video is side field view of Liverpool training. There’s Buvač, Klopp, and Krawietz visible on the field in training gear. Ljinders is there as well, because you can hear him shouting.
The squad is divided into two groups on a half length of football pitch. One of group has Mané, Salah, and Firmino (For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to call their group as FSM) along with midfielders and defenders. While the other group has other strikers as well. The structure of the exercise is pretty simple, once the ball is launched from either one of the side the whole unit starts moving to attack. The attacking unit is then stopped as another ball is launched to the other group and the attacking group needs to reorganise, and then defend. On any given day it looks an exhausting, and boring exercise but if you give it more of a look you realise how good the group became with each interplay.
The FSM group looks more brighter, and off the blocks each time one of them had the ball with them. They were rotating positions but the key idea was a blitz.
If we called this Phase I of game play, it terrified teams. Arsenal and West Ham were the first recipients of such blitz. And both of the plays started out from the back, either a corner or a ball deep inside Liverpool’s defensive third.
Slowly the same game play crept into Europe. Our first Champions League campaign in almost a decade saw us swatting sides left and right. Pep Guardiola and his assistants worried about this before the crucial away leg at Merseyside. By the time City visited, the FSM trio had clocked 1,000 minutes together. When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the party, Liverpool were 2-0 up, and on course to biggest European win against anointed semi-finalists. It almost worked in the final of the Champions League but once Salah was out of the game, the complexion changed completely. (Also if you can bring Gareth Bale as a sub, it means you aren’t playing on equal financial terms)
This season’s preseason was more interesting**. Apart from the usually bleep testing, and double Rondo’s there was an interesting exercise.
Similar to last year’s preseason, there were two groups but this time the goal keeper is involved for passing movements. The length is much shorter meaning scoring goals is easier while ‘keepers have to be on their toes (and soft knees for quick reflex saves).
It seems some of our play has evolved with the back four waiting, and waiting before splitting the opposition apart through the middle or even the flanks. (Yesterday’s mistake which cost us a clean sheet was the first error leading to a goal in about 300+ minutes)
This surely can be called as Phase-II.
Marriage between both the phases will take time since we are integrating a new style with a new goalkeeper, a midfielder, and a winger (Once Fabinho joins the party, the team will take time to operate at a different level).
Minutes on the pitch matter, and there are pretty positive signs of our game play during the first four games. It is a good platform to build on as four wins in four isn’t the sign of unbalanced, fluky team but it is the sign of a team that is trying to instinctively adapt to our desired game play.
As Ljinders said in one of the sessions, he wants to drill instinctive reaction for ball recovery and passing. We are not there yet, but as the season progresses we will get there.
Articles published on The Tomkins Times since last Friday:
The Adventurous Cruyff-Turning Alisson: Brave or Foolish? by Daniel Rhodes