Is Klopp's friendly competitiveness a recipe for Liverpool's sucesss?
Background image: Kevin Walsh, CC BY 2.0
The Liverpool juggernaut doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As fans remain cautiously optimistic about finally breaking the three-decade-long curse, others are left wondering who can actually stop them?
At this stage, stealing a point from them seems an impossible task, even on their worst day. The narrow victory over spirited Sheffield United incurred lucky claims. However, Jurgen Klopp’s created his own fortunes after such hard-work.
It’s rare finding a day when the entire Liverpool side underperforms. If one influential figure has a quiet outing, another leader rises up to the task. Like Rome, this Liverpool side wasn’t built in a day either. Yet he’s amplified the players' strong characteristics by implementing a notion for everyone.
The German has convinced his men they can all outperform the other to climb the proverbial popularity ladder. A little competitiveness hurts, and instead, Klopp has galvanised his workaholic stars into finding their true calling.
Recently, Klopp explained how his squad lacks “fringe players” and consists only of first-teamers along with a few youngsters. In that way, he’s assured every player for being treated equally in this compact side.
However, the 52-year-old’s cleverly used his proven top players as the benchmark for the rest to strive for. This is already bearing rewards, inspiring certain under-the-radar individuals to maximise their output. The Mohamed Salah-Sadio Mane “feud” rings bells towards the benefits of little friendly fire.
They took each other to the very limit last season, winning the Premier League Golden Boot together, to orchestrate the phenomenal title chase. The same fighting aura has been retained this season - with Mane stealing the show on Salah’s off-days and vice-versa. The Egyptian does have the creative upper-hand with superior assists totals, though.
Even Divock Origi became reinvigorated by his coach’s motivational skills, outshining Roberto Firmino to become the unlikeliest of Champions League heroes. The Brazilian’s bit back in this campaign’s early stages, turning into arguably their most influential attacking figurehead; also making a bid to outshine his superstar wing-wizards.
Remember when Joel Matip was regarded as their “weak-link” in defence? The German’s “slow” nature, susceptibility to pacy figures posed questions right up until last season. However, he’s now fine-tuned his attributes to even give the mighty Virgil Van Dijk a run for his money. On the rare occasions when the Dutch general isn’t at his best(even he’s human!), Matip covers up by filling the defensive void.
The competitiveness between their wing-backs has also reached a palpable limit. While Andrew Robertson’s proven himself a better defender with key challenges, bailing out his side on crunch situation, Trent Alexander-Arnold is a changed man since THAT Barcelona assist. The England international sits second in the Premier League chance creation chart, which itself shows how influential he is despite operating from the back.
In the middle, Liverpool boasts the strongest, self-driven characters required to keep the engine running. Jordan Henderson leads from the front with an industrious nature, while Fabinho makes his defenders' jobs easier by intercepting swift-breaks.
Georginio Wijnaldum remains the x-factor, but will feel the pressure when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as Naby Keita, rediscover their groove. The big-money signing is failing to impress Klopp with fitness issues while Oxlade-Chamberlain is still settling in after that horrific injury; but it’s evident these two will play bigger roles once the season reaches its grinding point.
The secret to Manchester City’s unbridled dominance has been their strength in numbers. Pep Guardiola's rotational skills might irk Fantasy Premier League fanatics, but he’s valiantly utilised his world-class squad to create the unpredictable, dominant aura.
Klopp's philosophy revolves more about the tenacity to push one beyond their limits. His squad doesn’t run deep, but his man-management ability epitomises his team spirit. However, he must sustain this elite competitive level in his squad throughout the season.
The slightest of stumbles will be leapt upon by a looming City. The friendly competition in between multiple players have already escalated Liverpool to newer heights and the German is intent on keeping the fires in their bellies lightened up until the curse is broken...