This week, UEFA released their 2015/16 Europa League Technical Report, which compiles a detailed review of last season’s competitions. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is the head of the team of technical observers, and so had a few thoughts to share about Liverpool’s unlikely run to the Europa League final last season.
In the report, regarding Klopp’s impact on the team, Ferguson wrote, “He’s bought into the fans. And the support have taken to him because he’s shown that enthusiasm on the touchline, with his energy and his personality when he’s jumping out there.
“I think the combination of both suit each other.”
It’s doubtful that many Reds’ fans were holding their breath and waiting for the approval of the their new manager from Ferguson, of all people, but it’s good to see that people unconnected with the club and its fans can appreciate what Klopp brings to Anfield.
And speaking of that historic ground, Ferguson, in his years as United manager, has had his share of harrowing experiences on that pitch. In light of Liverpool’s rollicking Europa league home victories against the likes of Villarreal, Borussia Dortmund, and yes, Manchester United, Ferguson commented about the atmosphere at Anfield:
“I’ve always thought that playing at Anfield was very difficult. Because the crowd create an amazing atmosphere that puts a lot of teams, opponents and the referees under pressure a lot.
“We saw evidence of that when 3-1 down against Dortmund they got that second goal and the crowd lifted them and I think it inspires this team. They are that kind of football club, Liverpool, that get inspired by their support.”
Insert hyperlink to your favorite home victory against Manchester United from 1986 to 2013 here. My heart is with Dirk Kuyt’s jammy, Suarez-assisted hat trick that took place two days after King Kenny’s birthday, but your mileage may vary.
And finally, if you want to add the joy of reliving the loss to Sevilla in the final with the privilege of hearing what Alex Ferguson thought went wrong, he has you covered there too. About that game, he states, “Sevilla didn’t enjoy Liverpool’s tackling and determination in the first half. But they started off after half-time with a more positive attitude and getting the goal right away changed the whole game.
“In the second half Liverpool had no energy, they could not get to the ball. The space in midfield became bigger. I never had a team who could press a ball all season.”
Not exactly earth-shattering analysis, but he’s also not wrong. Liverpool fell apart in the second half of that match to a calamitous degree, and any autopsy of that game should recognize that.
Klopp and Liverpool don’t have European football to play this season, but it’s the hope that they’ll return to that arena within soon. With any luck, Klopp and Liverpool will find redemption after their lost opportunity last May.