Jurgen Klopp wants 'new maturity' in Seville
Amid the debris of Liverpool's defeat by Tottenham Hotspur last month, Jurgen Klopp decided something had to change.
Klopp is an idealist coach, but the idea of being "gung-ho" - absolving his side of defensive responsibilities so long as they outscore opponents - irritates him. Nevertheless, at his weekly team meeting in the aftermath of the Wembley debacle he informed his squad there would be significant fine-tuning in away fixtures to prioritise solidity.
Liverpool's next game on the road, at West Ham United, saw him adopt a more defensive formation. The favoured 4-3-3 made way for a more orthodox 4-4-2, the centre-backs better shielded and full-backs more circumspect in their decisions when to support attackers.
What followed was an emphatic victory, although the opponents' shortcomings at what proved Slaven Bilic's wake - combined with the timely return of Sadio Mane - may have been as infuential as tactical tweaks.
Tonight's Champions League trip to Sevilla will allow a more meaningful assessment of the more pragmatic attitude.
"We wanted to have a more defensive approach. This is true," explained Klopp. "We had two or three situations where it was an individual problem. In all the other parts, it was a team problem.
"There were a lot of things we changed to make us more stable. For West Ham, in that week, with the knowledge of West Ham and what they had to do in a home game, we decided to sit back more.
"We never hesitate to do different things, it is only that we need time for it. It was possible to play like this against West Ham because it is quite a simple thing to do. It was about making clear how we defend and, if they give us the ball, run! On this day it was a little bit more clear because of the line-up and because of the three outstandingly quick players. We can't always play like this but it is an opportunity.
"Maribor was the next challenge for us. Usually in games like this when you don't score early, the first counter-attack for your opponent opens the game. They think 'Oh, now we can start to attack'. That week was not only a very important week for us results-wise.
"We will have to show our new maturity 100 per cent in this [Sevilla] atmosphere. We do not need to run in only one direction and win in the first second. We have to show how the last games were against a quality opponent."
Despite enduring criticism of their defence, Liverpool have consistently looked secure at home, but since August there is a striking contrast in their away record.
At Anfield, Burnley are the only visiting side to score in the league. Only Hoffenheim and Sevilla have also registered in this campaign, Liverpool conceding five goals in nine home games in total.
Away, they have conceded 17 in nine games, and the four at Spurs signified the club's worst start defensively since 1964. Klopp visibly baulked when informed of this at the time. For the manager and players, enough was enough.
"Everyone realised that we have to do everything together. If we defend, then we defend together. If we attack, then we are there," says centre-back Ragnar Klavan, whose return has coincided with three clean sheets in the past four games.
"Tottenham wasn't a good game, but after that we made our corrections and the last four games have been all right. It's about the whole team's effort from top to bottom. Everyone is investing more defensively and we are more compact."
Sevilla plan to undermine the recovery. They have not been beaten in their Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium since last season against Juventus. They secured a 2-2 draw at Anfield, and carry the joyous memory of their Europa League final win of 2016.
Klopp was asked if that defeat still hurt and if he wanted his side to strike back. He paused, said "yeah", took a bite from his apple and headed off to drill his team. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Sevilla v Liverpool, Live, TV3 / BT Sport 2, 7.45