Top 5: Reasons why Klopp can rejuvenate Liverpool like Dortmund

Published 10/15/2015, 7:21 AM EDT

As the German landed on British soil, he knew he was being scanned. Not just by the airport scanner, but by a horde of Liverpool fans worldwide, who still couldn’t believe the man with the Midas touch was coming to join them. Jurgen Klopp, ex-Dortmund manager and present Liverpool manager, has taken Europe by storm after joining the English club after taking a brief sabbatical following his last season at Dortmund.

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Choosing to be Liverpool’s next manager after Brendan Rodgers was sacked due to his poor run, the job will not be easy for him. To understand a whole new style of football, in a new country is never an easy task even for a manager. And to adapt one’s mentality and gameplay to fit the present scenario of the league is a tougher ask.

Expectations have seen a dramatic increase ever since he became the manager, and rightly so. Because he can take it. He is the one Liverpool deserves and the one Liverpool needs right now. Because he is ‘not’ a silent guardian. He’s the ‘normal one’. But we can not just assume that, can we? Yes, we can, because Liverpool and Dortmund were riding the same boat when the storm came.

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We bring to you top 5 similarities in Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool when Jurgen Klopp joined the respective club.

5. Both Teams were on the Decline:

When Jurgen Klopp took over Borussia Dortmund from the interim manager Thomas Doll, they were at a paltry 13th position in the league. Liverpool, suffer a similar fate at the moment, having had a very uneventful last season, and was following the same path this season before the German’s intervention.  The past seasons before Jurgen Klopp took over saw the team drop from winning the title back in 2001-02 season to slipping positions, just like Liverpool ever since the dawn of the new decade, barring the aberrant 2013-14 season, where they finished second, thanks to a particular Luis Suarez.

This seems to be a forte for Jurgen, as he has little to no pressure of maintaining a particular position. It is a much tougher job to maintain a position rather than create a place for oneself in the league table, especially as the tournament reaches its later stages. For a larger club, inability to reach the goals points to the sacking of the manager- without any second thought. It also gives the manager a sense of freedom as far as the management is considered- their opinions are valued as long as the team is on track.

4. Both have a consistent and huge fan-base:

The effects of fans, the true lovers of the game often goes unnoticed. But then, what is the beautiful game if there is hardly anyone to notice the elegance? A fan’s support goes a long way in reassuring the club of it’s decisions, or even question its choices; as the circumstances claim. The fans make the team what it is, the fans encompass the spirit of the game. The fans feel the spirit of the game, they become the devotees of the god that is football and the religion of their club.  The clubs also understand the gravity and hence respect the fans demands for the betterment for the club.

Borussia Dortmund has forever been known to have one of the best fanbases all around Europe. With their every game at Signa Iduna Park seeing wave after of wave of Black and Yellow  drowning their opponents, they also define what the team plays for. Through the trenches, they never left their team behind, sticking when it mattered the most. They do protest against a faulty decision, but they don’t stop supporting.

Liverpool fans have a very similar notion of following their god. Over the two decades that the club has not won a league title- their numbers haven’t dwindled. Rather, they stand strong- they stand together. “You will never walk alone” is not just a motto for the club, but has become a way of life for Liverpudlians. The constant inability to win the league has not led them to disband their love for the club, unlike so many other clubs in England itself.

Jurgen Klopp is a manager who believes in the fans. He uses social media as a very important tool to connect to the fans, giving them insights. Unlike most managers who keep a sour face, he tends to keep the fans happy as well as answer all their doubts with a smiling face.

3. Both believe in the power of the Youth:

Over the years, one can attribute the winning formula of both these clubs to having a very strong youth base set up in their country. Liverpool and Dortmund, both employ a majority of their players at a very young age. This gives them the opportunity to shape the players like they want to. The players are designed and optimised to fit into the design of the game the club prefers to play. This results in a very effective, optimized and hands-on approach to the game, giving the club much better results in the long run.

Liverpool has a very strong youth base in England, and most of it’s better players have been English. In the present team, over half the players are from England itself. All though they have a very wide scouting base, their strength lies in their country itself, followed by other European countries, for example- Spain. This improves the team chemistry as a whole, as a younger team bonds better than an experienced team where a manager has to cater to each individual player’s ego and demands. Gerrard was their own youth player, and Ian Rush, Liverpool legend was signed by Bob Paisley when he was just 18 years old.

Borussia Dortmund shares a similar taste in players. While other clubs prefer to buy players who have already proven themselves, Dortmund scouts the player. It critically identifies the player’s attributes. If the player fits in the system and seems to have the talent to be the next big thing- they take them in. The scouting of Borussia Dortmund is next to none. They thoroughly analyse every player and only choose  a handful, most of those who are little-known.  Just like Liverpool, the majority of their scouting is limited to their own country- Germany; but they do not deny foreign talents. Reus, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan all fall under the same category. Even Gotze and Lewandowski were taken under the tutelage of the club at a very young age.

Jurgen Klopp himself believes in the power of the youth. He brought the change Borussia Dortmund needed- the deadly trio of Gotze-Reus-Lewandowski. He was instrumental in developing Nuri Sahin as a deadly midfielder. One can confidently say he can replicate the same at Liverpool knowing that they share the same mentality for younger talents.

2. Both understand the value of money:

The modern game is shifting. It is moving away from a more popularity-based to a monetary based functioning. Clubs are slowly turning themselves into cash-generating machines, inviting investors from all over the world bringing in hard cash which certain teams see no harm in spending relentlessly. But not all teams have the pleasure/opportunity to do the same. Some have seen the worst, some have even been liquefied , only to have been rescued by a generous donor  to join the league again. So much so that the players were not being given their wages. The green paper has taken a very unwanted position in the modern game; making it hard to dismiss as a probable factor.

Borussia Dortmund is not new to bankruptcy. All through the tumultuous 2000’s have been very well understood and documented, that was not their first contact with critical lack of funds. Back in 1929, the club fell into a quicksand after its attempts to woo the bigger names in the then footballing world failed. This left the club deep in trouble and gasping; only to be supported by a local supporter to pull them out of trouble. They went on to win 3 Bundesliga titles before the second World War, compensating for the fan’s investment to the club.

Although the club enjoyed it’s apex in the 90’s as they won both international and domestic laurels, the new millennium brought them crashing down. It all began when Borussia Dortmund decided to be the first (and only yet) club to be listed on the German Stock Market. After their 2001-02 Bundesliga victory, they fell in abysmal debt; mostly due to poor financial management along with fall in value. They were forced to sell their stadium( Westfalenstadion) and even loan €2 million from Bayern Munich to fund the player’s salaries for some months. But they came back strong, winning the Bundesliga twice since then and reaching the finals of Champions League.

Although Liverpool have never faced such a deep and threatening position ever since its existence; it has seen it’s downs. The very reason why the rivalry of Manchester United and Liverpool exists goes back to the Manchester Canal which rendered a major part of the Liverpool port defunct, leading to a loss of jobs and reduction of wages. The city started losing its value monetarily and so did it’s fans and hence the club. More recently, their US-based owners in 2010 left the club in a huge debt of around  £350 million after they took over back in 2007.With the fans not pleased with the mountain of debt piling up on the club, the owners decided to sell the club crippled with debt. But various other creditors of the club, notably Royal Bank of Scotland(RBS) took this case to the courts and paved a path for Fenway Sports Group to acquire the club for £300 million.

An experience similar to what either of these clubs faced proffers a new perspective. Unlike the present trend, these clubs do not go on a shopping spree every transfer season buying players which they do not need. Neither do they overpay players, as they both believe in no player being greater than the club’s ambitions. This has played a major role in how they scout for newer talent, helping them infiltrate even deeper as a scouting team to find hidden talents for a much lower price.

Jurgen Klopp, as already said before, is a manager who prefers the energy of the youth. He likes to mold his players himself. A youngster with a huge price-tag on his name would only consider it a burden. A necessity to perform from day-1 and no time to mold a player. Hence, Liverpool would be the best choice, as it is one of the few clubs which still do not believe in buying overvalued players for the sake of a few bigger names on the team list.

1. Both employ gegenpressing:

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Gegenpressing- what is it? Yes, we all know its German, but then what has it to do with Liverpool?

Gegenpressing was a new style of football personalized by Jurgen Klopp himself. Unlike the traditional defensive formations where the team falls back to reduce the gaps and tries to claim the ball by tackling/interceptions, this technique involves a very aggressive approach. Instead of falling back, the team rather pushes itself up against the oncoming attacking force. The word gegenpressing itself loosely translates to push against. It requires the players to have high stamina and a strong tactical knowledge of the game- the whole concept rests on the tactical awareness of the players.

For Borussia Dortmund, it has defined their counter-attacking football in a whole new way. After having implemented it successfully at Mainz, Klopp perfected it at the Signa Iduna. He believes it is the best form of play-making there is, and designed the whole team around it. With the likes of Kagawa and Gundogan in the middle, it won them the Bundesliga twice in a row. It was also infamously adopted by the Bayern Munich Manager Jupp Heyckes himself to defeat Borussia Dortmund in the finals of the Champions League; winning a treble back in 2013. The practical results from the implementation point to the success of the system.

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Interestingly, Brendan Rodgers had implemented a similar tactic back in the 2013-14 season, when they finished second in the league. He labelled it as ‘dictating the space’ while it meant a concept similar to their German counterparts. It involves ever player being responsible for marking another player, leaving no free space to pass. This when implemented properly allows the team to have a clear hold of the all-crucial midfield. The fullbacks play a major role as they demand a very strenuous role of pushing ahead along with keeping up with the wingers. And Liverpool’s Clyne and Moreno have been doing that well.

All though English clubs as a whole lack the technical awareness required, Liverpool are closer to the gegenpressing system than any other club in the Premier League. Over the course of a couple of years, with players like Emre Can at his disposal, he has the capability to tweak and fine-tune the system into a gear-like tactical beauty which orchestrates as a team.

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Srivats Venkateswaran

139 articles

Red Devil forever. Engineer by nature, Football by the heart. Sugar, Spice and a whole lotta tadka on the side.

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