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Klopp Certain Liverpool Can Succeed with a Counter-Pressing Game

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Despite doubts—doubts the manager says he has heard at every stage—Jürgen Klopp is certain Liverpool won’t have any problem playing a counter-pressing game week in and week out.

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Following a game against Tottenham that saw Liverpool run hard in the first half before appearing to tire in the second, it was probably inevitable Jürgen Klopp would face questions about the sustainability of a high press. Perhaps even if Liverpool hadn't begun to tire they would have been inevitable questions.

"The biggest misunderstanding is that always people ask me if it's possible to always play this kind of football," was the German's response ahead of Thursday night's Europa League tie with Rubin Kazan. "When I started at Mainz, people would ask me this question each week. Then, at Dortmund, they would ask me every three days.

"The thing is, you don't have to play like this for the whole of the 90 minutes. Your only possibility to win is to start out this way, but then if you have the ball, you don't have to always run like crazy. When you get a better feeling for this kind of defending, when you get a feeling for counter-pressing, it's only the foundation."

In a lot of ways, it's not all that dissimilar to the way that Liverpool often played during their title challenge in 2013-14. They routinely came out hard, blitzed the opposition, and after going up a couple of goals were then able to conserve energy and be far more selective about picking when they would press high up the pitch.

More to the point, Klopp is certain that once a side gets good at playing a counter-pressing game, the players will expend less energy by moving together as a team. Against Tottenham, there were still times where only one or two players would move to press aggressively, and to Klopp this amounts to energy that was wasted.

"There is always some talk about, ‘Can they do this every three days?'" said the manager "So yes, of course we need healthy players, but we don't kill the players in training. We train with them and they have the confidence and physical skills to do this every day because they are young, healthy, and professionals.

"We ran 116km against Tottenham. But there were 5km that were not useful and we did them. It was not the most clever thing, but now we can try to turn the screws and do it in more of the right way, in the right moment, with better timing and then being cooler with the ball. And then it will get better and better and better."