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Klopp Trusts Tenerife Trip to Improve Intangibles

The Reds manager believes a strengthened bond between players and their families will improve the team’s performances.

Norwich City v Liverpool - Premier League
Dat team spirit
Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

For the analytically inclined, measurables are the best. Tracking data points, examining the correlation between them and, hopefully, being able to extract some sort of causation that can be useful in predicting future performances, is the good stuff.

For instance, when examining strikers who have achieved the vaunted 20+ non-penalty goals scored in a league season, it becomes apparent that shot volume is simply a necessity. Certainly, it varies between players, teams and leagues — some arrive at the destination having taken twice as many shots as others — but any less than 3 shots per 90 minutes just doesn't seem to produce the desired outcome. Mathematically, it is certainly possible, of course, but in practice, it simply doesn't occur. Thus, one can assume that for instance Divock Origi, for all his other — and there are many — qualities, will be unable to produce such a season unless he increases his ability to produce shots, stuck as he is around the 2.2 mark.

Naturally, it's impossible to simply math ones way to success in a sport as dynamic as football — lots of strikers shoot a lot without ever reaching the 20 goal mark — but taking the measurables and using them as a jumping-off point for or supplement to player and performance analysis is useful, when done right.

The more abstract concepts, then, are where it gets muddy. English commentary cliches such as heart, determination, steel, and wanting it more are nowadays rightfully derided as examples of empty platitudes used mainly disguise lack of insight or fill silences in the booth or studio, but other intangibles are undoubtedly of great importance. Do the players get along? Are they nervous before matches? Overly excited when they go a goal up or discouraged when they go one down? Is there team coherence or does the line-up consist entirely of hired guns ready to move on at the slightest inkling of greener pastures? Difficult, likely impossible, to calculate, but Jürgen Klopp finds it significant all the same.

“You cannot measure it, but if you think about it you would always say ‘yes, that makes sense’,” said the manager when asked if bringing the families along to the team's training camp in Tenerife would be beneficial to his players.

“So, we are completely fine with it, we believe in things like this, we believe in atmosphere and that’s what we try to create. Having families here helps the players. [Also] Mrs Klavan is here with her two boys, while Raggy is with his national team, and that’s really nice."

He continued: “It’s not easy to have a completely normal private life as the family of a professional football player but it’s important that the girls know each other and we try to do things like this as often as possible so they all feel comfortable.

“If you [the players] feel comfortable, it’s more likely that you can perform.”

Comfortable players perform better. On the surface, that's not an unreasonable premise. A quick look would show that empirically, the Reds have been hit-or-miss after their mid-season trips to Spain, having won once, drawn once and lost once in matches directly following a Tenerife getaway. Small data sets are subject to variance, however, and another data point will be added in the Merseyside derby on April 1st. Hopefully, it'll get them trending in the right direction.

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