Most managers have a style of playing that they stick to. It’s a part of their persona and they shape and train their teams to play in this style. Jürgen Klopp is known for teams that play with a very high intensity and for nearly ninety minutes, if possible. Emphasis is placed heavily on attacking play and a relentless press that wins balls and consistently puts the team in positions to score. Fast, speed, pass, move, go, go, go.
But the high back line which serves the high intensity press, as we’ve seen, can be exposed and beaten by teams that lock their business down defensively and plan to hit Liverpool on the counter attack. This has led many to suggest that Klopp is one-dimensional in his stubborn approach to the game and would do well to create a second playbook full of secondary plans.
“People say I don’t have a Plan B or whatever,” said Klopp. “We know how to play.
“We have to cover specific spaces and make the right decisions. You can’t just say we can only concentrate on counter attacks, set pieces, whatever. It’s an all-round challenge.”
The Premier League is a menagerie of footballing styles. Each week is a match against a new opponent who will approach the job differently than the last one. Each week is a match with various absences through injury, illness, etc. Consistency is key, as is the personnel at the manager’s disposal. But once the players take the pitch it’s all about what the players do.
“My job, how I understand it,” explained Klopp, “is to help them find the right decisions easier. That’s what training is for. We have to prove it on the pitch.”
A comprehensive victory over Burnley will do much to quell the “Plan B” talk, which has risen, understandably, from the tumult of Liverpool’s midseason horror show. But there are plenty of signs that Plan A is regaining it’s chutzpah.
“Before Arsenal, the mood was optimistic,” said Klopp. “In this moment I’m not sure we will win against Burnley but I’m optimistic.
“We’re ready for the fight.”