Monday 23 July 2018

Jurgen Klopp after 100 games: Striking similarities with Dortmund so what comes next for Liverpool?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Patrick Scott

Liverpool's hectic 3-3 draw with Watford on Saturday - Jurgen Klopp's 100th game in charge - will have frustrated Liverpool fans hoping their team starts making the sort of progress needed to fulfill their manager's vow of winning the league within four years.

Football has a propensity to judge people too quickly but, after a century of matches, it seems like a reasonable time to look at what Klopp has achieved so far.

Recovering from an eighth place finish in his first season to fourth last year, the German's mixed bag also includes poor FA Cup form coupled with defeats in the Europa League and League Cup finals. There are undoubtedly positives here, even if there is no silverware to show for it.

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Klopp's impressive trophy haul at Dortmund didn't come immediately. In fact, his first 100 games in charge at the Westfalenstadion yielded extremely similar results to his first 100 at Anfield.

At Liverpool he has won 50 games, drawn 28 and lost 22. At Dortmund his record was slightly better at 52 wins, 30 draws and 18 losses. His Liverpool side have scored 182 goals so far and conceded 108, compared to 178 scored and 101 conceded in his first 100 competitive games for Dortmund.

After 100 games at Dortmund - in February 2011 - Klopp had won no major trophies, finishing fifth and sixth in the Bundesliga.

Klopp kicked on at Dortmund after 100 games

Results improved dramatically for Klopp in his second set of 100 games in Germany with his win percentage rising from 52 to 60. Dortmund still lost 18 matches but they drew far fewer.

The key to this was being able to blow opponents away with goals galore. In games 101 to 200 at Dortmund Klopp's team let in 102 goals - one more than in Klopp's first 100 - but they scored 215 - an increase of 21 per cent.

During this period Dortmund won back to back Bundesliga titles, the German cup and were narrowly beaten by Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

If Klopp kicks on at Liverpool as he did in his previous club then Anfield could well see a major trophy in the next two years.

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Are there signs of progress at Liverpool?

At Dortmund, Klopp's progression in terms of win rate was a continued upward curve in his first 100 games (as per the chart below). At Liverpool it has been more sporadic.

In games 51-75 at Liverpool Klopp appeared to have cracked the formula for success, winning 17 games (68 per cent) and losing just three - the kind of form that his Dortmund side enjoyed at its best. However, since then (the start of January) he has won just 40 per cent of games - among the worst periods of form in his career.

Given his Dortmund side's reliance on scoring at least two goals a game during their period of success it isn't a coincidence that his recent dip in form at Liverpool has been marked by problems in the final third.

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Sadio Mané - a key attacking cog in Liverpool's team - left for the African Cup of Nations in January of this year and then endured a lengthy injury on his return. In the 25 games since January Liverpool have scored 37 goals compared to 60 in the final 25 games of 2016 while conceding roughly the same amount.

That the absence of one player was felt so greatly is testament to the fact that a deep and potent attacking roster is important for Klopp's fluid, exhausting system to work.

The signing of Salah from Roma in a club record transfer has potentially solved this problem. With Salah, Firmino, Mané and Coutinho able to score, assist and run at pace interchangeably there is enough attacking talent in Klopp's squad to consistently score more than two a game as they did on Saturday.

This does mean, however, that Liverpool's chances of success could be dealt a huge blow if - in the absence of Lallana and Sturridge - they lose Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona.

It is, of course, also important to have a competent defensive set-up, but securing the signature of Virgil van Dijk may not be as crucial as some pundits have suggested. If Klopp manages to keep Coutinho and sufficiently shores up the defence then Liverpool could make great strides this year.

Telegraph.co.uk

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