Former Manchester United defender and current BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand had an interesting time at the office this weekend. He curiously decided to launch into a full-throated defense of Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, who is, shall we say, not well-regarded among supporters of the Magpies. Ferdinand enraged many Newcastle fans by implying that they should be grateful for the expenditures Ashley has rubber-stamped thus far, while somehow confusing the club’s revenues and the owner’s personal bank account in the process.
In addition to that bizarre commentary, however, Ferdinand did also have some thoughts on Liverpool’s title challenge, following the Reds’ workmanlike display in a 1-0 victory over Brighton yesterday. The race for the Premier League title is well and truly on, following Manchester City’s narrowing of the gap, and Klopp’s side has established itself as the one to chase.
It’s the kind of situation that - given Liverpool’s history, both recent and distant - could build immense pressure on a squad. Klopp is no fool, and has in the past tried to create a pressure relief valve for his players by encouraging a focus on having fun and enjoying the journey, whatever the result. But the pressure is likely going to get more intense, and Ferdinand had some pointers from legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
“When I was fortunate enough to be in a changing room with Sir Alex Ferguson, in times of need when the pressure is on, someone was chasing or when Liverpool or Chelsea were just ahead of us, he would find something we could hook into,” said Ferdinand.
“It wouldn’t be obvious but it would be something about us a lot of the time - what we were good at, why we’re here” added the former Manchester United defender. “It would be little gems that he would put into your mind as an individual and it grew as a collective belief that you just cling on to.”
Not the clearest of instructions, but you can still imagine Klopp employing a similar tactic in talking to his players. There will likely be some more bumps in the road over the remaining fixtures and some tense times ahead, so every trick in the book will be a welcome addition to Klopp’s arsenal during these next few months.