How Jurgen Klopp Has Turned Fans Into Believers

Published by Chris Jenkins
31st Oct 2023

Since his appointment at the helm of Liverpool Football Club in October 2015, Jurgen Klopp has become a cult hero of the club who is sure to be remembered for generations to come. He has etched his name into the folklore of the historic city of Liverpool and has done so by bringing success back to the Merseyside giants after a long wait to become one of the world’s top clubs once again.

In this blog post, we are going to be discussing all of the things that have made Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side tick in recent years and how they have sustained the success they have even through a period of dominance by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.


Implementing Gegenpressing

After his many years of battling Bayern Munich with Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga title, one of the tactics that are most commonly paired with Jurgen Klopp is the relentless “rock and roll football” of gegenpressing, otherwise described as simply winning the ball back as soon as you lose it.

The first thing that Jurgen tried to implement into his Liverpool side was to have more energy when pressing to retrieve the ball, particularly with the midfield players. Players like Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson proved vital in these roles as they led the press from the midfield.

Klopp believed that winning back the ball as soon as possible was always the most effective way to establish dominance in a game, giving the opposition no time to breathe and suffocating them into submission.

The main idea behind gegenpressing is to regain the ball while the opposition is thinking about a counter-attack. When the opposition gains the ball their intention will be to immediately counterattack and will thus have a poor defensive structure. With gegenpressing, the idea is to regain possession while this defensive instability is in motion to make scoring easier for attackers.


Goals From Counter Attacks

The 2017/18 season saw the first glimpses of Liverpool being able to keep up with some of Europe’s elite, making it to the UEFA Champions League Final in Kyiv where they faced Real Madrid, a team who had dominated the European landscape for years. Liverpool went on to lose this final despite their progress but ended up picking up the European Cup the following year against Tottenham Hotspur.

In his first two seasons at the club, Jurgen Klopp’s side was playing a 4-2-3-1 formation with Phillipe Coutinho and Adam Lallana in the wide areas proving that they simply didn’t have enough pace to hit teams on the counter with much efficacy.

The signings of Sadio Mane in 2016 and Mohamed Salah in 2017 allowed for a much more effective way to hit teams on the break at pace. With these signings, Liverpool switched to a 4-3-3 formation which completely revolutionised Liverpool’s attacking threat.

In the Premier League, Liverpool topped the charts for most counter-attacking goals scored with 9 in the 2017/18 season, a massive improvement on the tallies of their previous seasons’ totals with 1 and 2 respectively. This level of counter-attacking prowess only continued into the 2018/19 season and 2019/20 season as they made a name for themselves as one of the most dangerous teams in the league.


Building a Strong Defence

When Jurgen Klopp first joined the Reds, Liverpool had been notorious for having a fairly weak defence since the departure of Daniel Agger and with senior members soon to leave such as Martin Skrtel would mean that they were without many team members capable of playing at the highest level. This is where Liverpool really began to turn. Jurgen Klopp’s top priority as Liverpool manager wasn’t to implement counter-attacking tactics or buy better attackers, it was to sturdy the defence into one that was capable of winning the premier league.

In his first two seasons, Liverpool conceded a total of 92 goals overall in the Premier League which is largely what kept Liverpool from even getting close to the Premier League title despite much more positive performances.

To address this, Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool Board used the funds he had acquired from the Coutinho deal to go and buy Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson Becker in January 2018. This was one of the first major steps they took in pushing Manchester City over the next few years. The defensive signings that Liverpool made at this time would include Van Dijk, Alisson, Robertson, Joel Matip, Fabinho and an emerging Trent Alexander Arnold from the youth set-up.

These few players would remain key assets in Liverpool’s defensive structure for the foreseeable future until the departure of Fabinho in 2023. Before the 17/18 season, Liverpool were very prone to conceding goals from set pieces, an issue that Klopp aimed to solve.

From 2015-2017, Liverpool conceded 27 goals, out of a total of 92 altogether, from set pieces which was an issue that needed to be resolved immediately. With the introduction of these defensive players, these numbers drastically decreased.


Focused Wide Play

Implementing the likes of Trent Alexander Arnold and Andrew Robertson as attacking full-backs was a genius tactic implemented by Klopp in the latter half of 2018. They were key players in the attacking aspects of Liverpool throughout their most successful years under the German. Having two players who could relentlessly run and pass on either side while still having the luxury of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane on either wing was a major concern for any opponent they would face.

As most football fans would be aware, Liverpool’s trophy success has come largely from the dynamic movement of their full-backs and the energy of the midfield players like Henderson and Wijnaldum but it cannot be overstated that Salah and Mane played a massive part in the success of the club.

At the time of writing, Both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have a combined 257 goals throughout their shared Premier League seasons showing how prolific they were as a partnership out wide for Jurgen Klopp. Having assisted each other countless times over the years, both Mane and Salah were undoubtedly vital parts of Jurgen Klopp’s success.