Liverpool is leading the Premier League, is in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, Europa League last-16 and FA Cup round four; The impressive season was aided by Klopp’s changes to the game, which saw the Reds record more participation than their rivals.
Author Peter Smith, Senior Football Journalist @psmithXI
11:25, UK, Thursday 18 January 2024
Mohamed Salah has many goals. Virgil van Dijk is back to his best. Alisson is also in contention for the golden glove and Trent Alexander-Arnold is thriving in his hybrid role.
But perhaps the most impressive performance at Liverpool this season has come from their manager, Jurgen Klopp.
First, there is a big job. Liverpool also established and how they developed the ability to rebuild the team’s midfielders. A mix of new faces and graduates and the old reliable guard. It’s a change from last season’s “terrible” season – as he called it – and a testament to Klopp’s team-building skills and the culture he’s created around the club.
A bright future. We’re in the next chapter of Klopp’s Liverpool reign and it already looks like it has the potential to deliver a similar success to the previous one.
But it was during those matches that Klopp impressively led Liverpool to the top flight and went on to compete for three more trophies. His change of pace set him apart from his rivals and, on many occasions, he enhanced Liverpool’s return for their efforts.
The most reliable figures to highlight 30 goals and assists Liverpool’s substitutes have delivered in all competitions this season.
That’s 12 more than any other Premier League team has recorded.
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In the debate over whether English football should change to allowing teams to use five subs instead of three, Klopp was a strong advocate for an increase.
He said it’s mainly because of the physical benefits that change can have for his players, who are often called upon to work in different roles. But he’s also a master at technical transitions between games and now has more tools at his disposal.
Over the past few months, Klopp’s list of major changes is long. Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo converted the Carabao Cup first leg against Fulham. Arsenal’s two replacement teams changed the course of the FA Cup. There were three changes to break Newcastle’s resistance before that, with Harvey Elliott, Wataru Endo and Luis Diaz all scoring important goals from the bench before Christmas.
The exception that proves the rule is the disappointing 0-0 0-0 at home to Manchester United, where Klopp accepted his change to 4-2-4 in the second half and instead gave the opposition more options. They soon reverted to the original 4-3-3 but the inability to finish off their opponents left Anfield frustrated.
But Liverpool have won more points from the drop this season. They have given up the second-fewest number when they have been ahead. Klopp often finds a way to win.
Interestingly, this change is part of a larger system of rotation. Liverpool have changed their starting XI for the third time this season in the Premier League, with Klopp overseeing a number of players who are going away in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup and the next phase of the FA Cup.
But the options are drawn from a small pool. Liverpool have used just 23 players in the league – the fewest players used by any club. Five more have participated in other competitions.
There is power deep in this group. This is particularly evident in attacking areas – Liverpool are second in the number of different players this term. But like most sides, injuries have limited those options at various times and forced Klopp and his players to adapt.
Throughout this season, Klopp’s willingness to rely on youth has helped Liverpool overcome this. Eight players 20 years old or younger have seen playing time, as Jarrell Quansah and Conor Bradley are on the rise.
Elliott may be in his sixth season but he’s also falling into this category. After his heroics at Crystal Palace he said he hopes to shake off the supersub tag and become a regular player in Liverpool’s first team.
But it is the supersubs who have been a big part of Liverpool and Klopp’s success so far this season. Coupled with established, established stars, it makes Klopp’s Liverpool 2.0 the strongest in the second half of this campaign…
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