Liverpool and the Age of Klopp
The Hype Train's Chief Writer, and deluded Liverpool supporter Sam Austin, takes a look at the impact that the appointment of Jurgen Klopp will mean for Liverpool, and if there is any impact on the teams Fantasy Premier League options.
All the waiting for the announcement of the renowned German manager taking the reins at Anfield is finally over, on Thursday 8th October 2015 the man all Liverpool fans were crying out for touched down on scouse soil. The appointment of Klopp leaves a few things up in the air for the Anfield club as it is now in the official realm of the wildcard where nobody knows that to expect from them now they are set by a different set of rules. Either the same Liverpool of recent weeks rears its ugly head or a new look team steps out onto the field against Spurs when the international break closes.
Fortunately the run that Liverpool has against Spurs is really good; in the last two seasons they have gone to White Hart Lane and won without conceding a single goal. This is promising because they have the potential to beat Spurs without the need of Suarez, Gerrard, and Sterling. If there was any match that could provide a springboard for the starts of the Klopp era it is this one, and The Hype Train looks at the players which are guaranteed to start underneath the new German manager amid the uncertainty that he could be making some big changes in the coming weeks.
Philippe Coutinho - £8.3mil
Reports are already circling that Klopp's first mission in charge is to ensure that Coutinho remains a Liverpool player amid interest that Manchester City are looking for a long term replacement for David Silva. The only way this is solved is by making Liverpool centered around the dynamic Brazilian play-maker. This in the eyes of many makes Coutinho a lock for Klopp's new team, with his ability to play in multiple positions he will have a place in the team, and even in the Rodgers era he was the most effective Liverpool player. Should Klopp get the best out of Coutinho he could become a dangerous midfielder and equally viable options for fantasy teams.
Nathaniel Clyne - £5.5mil
Without any competition in this department except for Joe Gomez, the England international looks more than likely to keep his place in the team. Easily one of the best defenders and attackers in the Liverpool setup Nathaniel Clyne is a staple to the existing squad. Should the impossible become over 30% of FPL managers will have a crisis on their hands if Clyne were to be dropped.
Martin Skrtel - £5.5mil
Sitting in the heart of defence will be the sturdy, pirate-like, slovak Martin Skrtel. Out of all the centre halfs currently at the club he is by far the best and most experienced and a leader on the pitch. Nobody is considering that Skrtel will be dropped from the Liverpool lineup anytime soon as there have been nothing wrong with his performances so far this season. With such few leaders on the pitch currently at Liverpool it would be unwise for Klopp to drop him which is why he is a surefire bet to retain his place in the main eleven.
James Milner - £6.7mil
Currently the Liverpool captain whilst Jordan Henderson is out injured on the side-lines it is difficult to see Milner being dropped from the team. Having his hand is the goals and assists recently for the Reds guarantees that he will be involved in the setup when Klopp arrives, being captain currently will also help his case. James Milner is involved all around the pitch with free kicks, corners, and also defending so a Liverpool without Milner is currently unthinkable and Klopp will see that too. You also have to remember that it was Brendan Rodgers who promised James Milner to play central midfield, but this may change under Klopp who may use him as a wide man where he thrived at Manchester City. Either way he is still an FPL option and could be playing in more advanced positions which highlight even more promise with Milner.
Based on these four selections they are basically the same as the season preview for Liverpool, so for the viable FPL options there is little change as everyone recognizes these players as where the points are available for Liverpool players. The question marks come in the form of the other seven players that make up the main eleven, as that is where the uncertainty lies.
The biggest debate is the formation he will play, and everyone has to be realistic here. It is safe to assume that Klopp will utilize a four man defense, but aside from that he will have to judge where everyone is best suited to play and build the best team from the available players he has at his disposal. On paper this would be a 4-4-2 tight diamond, with Coutinho playing behind two strikers, with Can, Milner, and when Henderson has returned from injury making up a four man midfield. Again, none of this is for certain but expect something traditional and familiar to way that Liverpool fans want to see in the form of direct attacking football.
Alternatively Klopp liked to play with a 4-2-3-1 at Dortmund, and if this would be transferred to Liverpool this might change player roles, with Milner going out wide as Liverpool made the mistake of loaning out one of their only wingers in Markovic. This formation could see Jordan Ibe return to the Liverpool setup, and at the cheap price of £4.9mil it could be a really good (and cheap) option for any fantasy team. Emre Can would no longer be a defender and out of the two defensive midfielders he'll be making the surging runs through the field to surge play into the opposition half. This formation would also be the most flexible with the current crop of players as Coutinho play wider, allowing for Lallana and Firmino to have a place in the team.
Where does that leave the rest of the team?
Positions up for debate are pretty much everywhere on the field as Klopp has always been a fan of playing young, hungry, and ambitious players. Don't be surprised to see some familiar faces dropped for the game against Spurs as the German attempts to instil some energy into what could be easily described as a lacklustre Liverpool of recent months. Daniel Sturridge is always the first name on the Liverpool team sheet but no striker is currently a lock in the Liverpool team as both the England internationals and Christian Benteke when he is fit are all on two goals apiece and all have a stake in being the lead striker. Danny Ings should be playing with the form he is on but there is no guarantee that under Klopp he will be selected if he only goes for one striker. The same can be said for the left-back situation, the money is on Alberto Moreno to retain his place but with Joe Gomez impressing in that position the new manager may revert back to the original formula that started the season. Gomez may also upset the balance in the centre of defence partnering Martin Skrtel. Mamadou Sakho should be playing but with so much up in the air and in need of change at Liverpool the defense is the most debated.
Even the position of goalkeeper is questionable, Simon Mignolet should retain his place in the squad but because there is not one hundred percent confidence in his abilities between the sticks it may cause an impromptu change of keeper, even if it is only temporarily. Emre Can's position in the Liverpool squad is currently a myth; Klopp is likely to play him in the suited midfield role and not in defence which will be a huge relief for Liverpool supporters. Regarding Emre's position it is unclear if he is guaranteed to start in the midfield setup, he should, but without having a single set position he may be surplus to the main eleven.
Here is a breakdown of how Liverpool have fared this season in the goals, clean sheets, and assists department going into gameweek nine. Only two players from the Liverpool setup have got points for all three categories, and unsurprisingly they are top of the list.
*Points Average: Worked out based on the average games to point’s ratio.
Daniel Sturridge is the outright leader of the point’s average as he has only featured three times but bagged two goals. At least Brendan was right about his impact on matches, and how pivotal he is to the Liverpool team. Five players have bagged goals, and much to the joy of Liverpool support three of those players have been strikers which is a stark contrast in comparison to last season. There have also only been seven assists spread across five players. Few players are currently making an impact at Liverpool and that is a big task for Klopp to find the balance in his tenure at the club.
Gomez dropping out the main setup is a big disappointment for FPL managers but with Liverpool defenders falling in price this could be useful later on if you needed to pick up a cheap alternative for your squads, and who knows Gomez might to the main team under Kloppo. One thing is for sure, there are few trustworthy sources of points for Liverpool.
The bench, fringes, and the forgotten
Roberto Firmino - £8.0
A big money signing in the summer that has had his season blighted by injury and warming the bench when fit. Firmino is hugely talented, and the prospect of a full midfield partnership with Coutinho is still highly dreamt of at Liverpool, but being injured for the start of the Klopp era may hinder his chances later on if Klopp has his team settled. Dependant on the formation the new manager goes with it goes without saying that among all the creative midfielders it is his Brazilian counterpart Coutinho that is the preferred choice unless he utilises Firmino as a centre forward.
Dejan Lovren - £4.9
Nothing more needs to be said on the signing of Dejan Lovren, helooks set to have his place in the Red's line-up banished under Klopp after a mixed bag of performances under Rodgers, and whilst he is out injured it leaves the other centre backs to stake a place in the team ahead of the Croatian.
Adam Lallana - £7.3
A big question mark as he is a direct rival for the position that Coutinho currently occupies, but with Henderson out he may drop deeper into central midfield which could bring some creative energy among a group of players that could be classed as very similar. Lallana came with a hefty price tag and Klopp isn't shy of letting players go who don't make the mark, there is a huge question mark hanging over the head of the England international if he will be there for the coming seasons. Joe Allen - £4.9 No surprises then who Brendan Rodgers first signing for his new club will be should be return to club management is going to be. The Welsh Xavi has only recently returned from injury and the prospect of decent playing time looks limited to appearances coming off the bench. Allen when he want to play real football is great at breaking up play and providing energy in the middle of the park but in the current midfield there are significantly better options available to the new manager.
Will Klopp be a success if front of the Kop?
First things first, the pieces of the puzzle are all lined up. His philosophy for football is simple: win the ball as high up the pitch as possible and expose mistakes from teams and capitalise on them. Liverpool fans want a pressing team, they want their squad to cause problems and be a menace to anyone visiting the historic stadium. Klopp has the potential to deliver that kind of football which will excite the fans in attendance, but it shows that Klopp isn’t going to build a team to eke out matches in dull encounters but in a shimmering sea of relentless pressure on an opponent. Of recent Liverpool have been criticised for not having a team that ‘wants it’, it is easy to argue that perhaps the team stopped playing for Rodgers once he let key men leave the locker room such as Steven Gerrard. It makes you think, who did the talking for the Liverpool team, Gerrard or Rodgers?
In the spur of the moment Gerrard could make a team amp it up their true capability and force a win even if they had been the inferior team. Once Gerrard left you can see that there was no leader on the pitch, or on the touchline. Liverpool players got complacent and had no voice representing them, and now bursting through the doors at their Melwood training facility is a coach worth listening too, a new leader that may hit tone with players underperforming. Klopp won’t rely on the same one liner that Brendan provided in front of the cameras, the German has a completely different mentality which is inspiring considering the nature of the dull interviews that existing managers are scripted to repeat time and time over. Everyone will be watching the next Match of the Day to hear his first post-match interview as Liverpool manager just for the entertainment factor. Brendan was mocked for his interviews, and Liverpool fans and their players will find it refreshing having someone as witty and open as Klopp is.
The Hype Train doesn't want people panicking as Liverpool is still Liverpool until the final whistle blows at White Hart Lane and we start to see the Klopp era unveil itself. There are positive signs even in the Rodgers era as there now legitimate striking options available for Klopp to choose from which Liverpool supports and FPL managers have been devoid of since the era of Luis Suarez in a red shit. However, take this with a pinch of salt because in the context of the Premier League it isn't consistently matching up to the likes of Ighalo, Aguero, and Vardy. Huge improvement in the striking department is apparent but still concerns grow as there is no consistent outlet and way that Liverpool get the strikers involved in the game. Klopp has the chance that Rodgers didn't take up to find a way to play Liverpool without Luis Suarez, and for that reason Klopp is already a success in the eyes of the Liverpool support because he will not be pegged to the expectations of his decisions and can manage the club in a way he sees fit. Klopp won't be judged for former players, tactics, decisions, this is a legitimate clean slate for Liverpool and Michael Owen on BT Sport can acknowledge that Liverpool have a new manager.
Unlike all former players and unlike all media outlets and public votes The Hype Train is going to stay neutral until Klopp has time to settle the team and his style of football he will develop at Anfield. Everyone wants to jump on the hype train for Klopp merely because he is exactly who the Liverpool fans asked for, but at this point the train hasn't even arrived at the station yet, and nobody should be expecting the good times will come with it. Liverpool has struggled, they haven't been losing many games, but they currently aren't a winning side either at the moment. Klopp should be beat Spurs will have a lot of nerves eased, but until the proverbial dust has settled we will have to judge the impact of the big German once he has timed to win over the support of the Liverpool faithful.