One of Liverpool's summer recruits explains the simple beauty of being a Jurgen Klopp midfielder
Published 28/09/2016 | 15:19
These truly are heady days around Anfield, as Jurgen Klopp’s patented heavy metal football continues to yield compelling performances and results from a Liverpool side currently hitting all the right notes.
Liverpool’s quest for that all elusive first Premier League has certainly proven a painful one for their faithful and was traditionally compounded by Manchester United’s unprecedented dominance under Alex Ferguson.
Of course, they’ve come close, twice in particular. The second place finish in the 2008-09 campaign certainly did not sting as much as the one in 2013-14, when Brendan Rodgers’ buccaneering, Louis Suarez-infused outfit sparkled all too briefly.
This, perhaps, is why the gregarious Klopp has sought to temper all expectations so far this term, so as to ensure no misplaced hysteria encroaches on the business of actually securing a title that most would agree is Manchester City’s to lose.
That being said, The Reds, following their blip against Burnley and draw with Spurs, have won three league games on the bounce, scoring 11 goals and conceding just three in the process. As such, they are in fourth place, behind Arsenal on goal difference alone.
What has also been noted by fans and media alike is that Klopp has assembled his squad in a manner that dictates they are not dependent on any one player to excel offensively.
While the German welcomed a total a seven new players into his group over the summer, not one could have been considered a marquee or ‘big name’ signing.
However, that appears to have been by design and, rotating the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturrdige and Divock Origi, has meant Liverpool have scored 16 goals in six league games – only the unbeaten Man City have a accrued a higher tally (18).
The arrivals of Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan have certainly fortified them as a defensive unit, though just how long James Milner will continue to be deployed at left back remains to be seen.
With the surfeit of goals being scored and a relatively small amount conceded (7), the balance Liverpool are enjoying in the middle third has been somewhat overlooked.
Klopp has started the same trio for all six league games to date, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum, who was purchased from Newcastle during the summer.
The Dutch international has proven a subtle but formidable cog in the engine room, and recently told Liverpoolfc.com that the manager’s instructions have been helpfully direct, without the adherence to minutia he traditionally expects of his attackers.
"He doesn’t really give a lot of jobs to players. He tells me to be free and play how I can play. But sometimes it is different.”
"It depends on what the other players are doing. You have to look at the other players. For example, if Lallana goes forward and Henderson also goes, I have to stay.
"Sometimes I have to get used to it because, normally, I’m the one who goes all the time. Now, I have to also look at the other players.
"That’s the thing that has changed the most in my way of football – that I have to look more at the other players."
Such is the frenetic pace and perpetual interchanging of positions that Klopp instructs his sides to engage in, Wijnaldum admitted that, as a midfielder, occupying areas where he can be useful to both defenders and attackers has been challenging.
"It is difficult and it still is. In the teams where I played before, I was the one who was running all the time to make a goal and I came into more positions to make goals.
"Now it’s not so often, it’s a few times in a game. But we have more players to come into that position, so more players who can score a goal.
"I think that’s better for the team, because if you only have one player who can score goals it can be a problem. We have more players who can come into that position and have the quality to score goals. It makes it easier for the team."
The 25-year-old went on to say that he expects to reach a consistently higher level of performance over the course of his inaugural season on Merseyside, and believes he is in the perfect setting to do so.
“It always takes me time but it has gone well so far, everyone is trying to help me, not only the players but also the coaches and the physios.
"Everyone here is doing their best to give me a good feeling and it gives me a good feeling. Step-by-step, I will have the best feeling.
"It must be better and I know I can be better, because I can show a lot more than I already showed. Unfortunately, sometimes it will take time.
"That’s how it is and that’s why I have confidence and faith in my qualities – it will come. It’s a nice squad with good coaches and everything is here to be a better player.
"So I look forward to that with a lot of confidence and faith and I’m happy to be here. I feel blessed that I can be here."
As far as a title tilt is concerned, Liverpool enjoy the benefit of no European commitments this season, subsequently they will have a banked a full week’s rest when pitching up at the Liberty Stadium to take on a Swansea side hovering above the relegation zone in Saturday’s early game.