Sunday, 11 October 2015

Klippity Klopp - The Odd One

As the Hun Hipster rode into Merseyside, the increasingly luvvie English football msm humbled themselves in awe at his hair implants, his outsized glasses, the designer stubble and the colossal intellect of bilingualism.

The saviour is here despite his "I am the Normal One" motif.
No more the idiocy of Hodgson or Rodgers, Hicks or Gillett but the acceleration of the Fenway Hipster Express.

But Klopp is, in reality, the Odd One - a man whose management style creates repetitive cycles of ALMOST.

Here are the reasons that we believe that the man (who is kind enough to point out to our rose-tinted stares that he is not Jesus and consequently not able to walk on water) will struggle at Liverpool.

* Fitness - Liverpool have been the most unfit major team in Europe for seasons 2014/15 and 2015/16 to date. Systemic lack of physicality cannot be solved swiftly (think Sunderland). Klopp's one trick pony strategy is a high-pressing game that Liverpool are simply unable to perform. It will take a serious fitness regime and much activity in the transfer market to solve this structural deficiency.
Early last season, Dortmund markedly underperformed in the Bundesliga sitting in relegation positions for the first third of the season. Concurrently they ran like demons in their parallel Champions League games (remember Dortmund 2 Arsenal 0 with 24 shots to 4, 7 corners to one). It will be interesting to see if such strategy is imported to Merseyside.

* Transfer Failures - Transfer strategy by committee doesn't work - it simply produces lowest common denominator mediocrity. Additionally, neither transfer strategy via a club agent nor via a wheeler-dealer manager work either. Liverpool made signings under Hodgson that persuaded Fenway Sports that a more hands-on input to transfer activity was needed. But the kneejerk reaction to Hodgson's extreme mismanagement  has moved strategy to the opposite end of the spectrum. Klopp will need to grab control of transfer policy away from idiocy or those with a private agenda and further develop the youth system which will always be a provider of talent on Merseyside. He will need to use his sabermetric wizardry to achieve this.

* Klopp's Management Cycle - Both of Klopp's posts to date have lasted seven years and follow the same flow of moderate, overachievement, failure (all against the backdrop of ALMOST).
At Mainz, Klippity twice finished 4th (just missing out on promotion from Bundesliga 2) before scraping up in third place in 2003/04. After two seasons of low mid-table performance, Mainz were relegated in 2006/07 before Klopp managed to finish 4th in Bundesliga 2 once again in 07/08, missing promotion for the third time in four Bundesliga 2 seasons by just one position.
The cycle has been replicated by his time at Dortmund. It took Klopp three seasons to win the title in 10/11 which he repeated the following season before falling away into a sea of SECONDITIS (Klopp finished runner up in 5 competitions between 2012/13 and 2014/15). But the runners up spot in last season's DFB Pokal was the final straw as Dortmund could only finish 7th in the League.

Liverpool should win something under Klopp. But his brinksmanship in management style more often means that he falls just outside his targets - he missed promotion by one place on three occasions and was relegated just one place from safety at Mainz. He finished runner-up five times at Dortmund.

* Goalkeepers - Some managers just don't get goalkeeping. Klopp is one - witness his Weidenfeller/ Langerak slapstick that underpinned Klopp's final season at Dortmund. What he makes of Mignolet and Bogdan will keep us all entertained.

* The Klopp Window - Klopp, like Mourinho, is a narcissist. Their respective management profiles are similar too. Whereas Mourinho lasts 2/3 seasons and brings massive success followed by a fall-off in performance and moving on, Klopp fails for two years, succeeds for two before failing for three and moving on. Neither can create a dynasty.

* Legacy - Personal legacy is only valid if the structure is left strong and intact for one's successor. Klopp does not achieve this - he left Mainz in Bund 2 and Dortmund trophyless and out of Champions League qualification places. Both teams picked up after his departure - Mainz returned to the top tier of German football the year after Klopp departed and Dortmund are the second best team in Germany this season under Thomas Tuchel. Liverpool fans will have to hope that the Klopp 3rd season/ 4th season blast achieves a return of some consequence.

One of the ironies of men with hair implants is that they tend to overachieve relative to ability (in that so much of success in late capitalism is entirely superficial) but such overachievement always falls below peak levels of performance as their mediocrity cannot hack the leap to superlative - Advocaat, Berlusconi, Clattenburg, Rooney, Klopp - narcissists one and all. Prettier than nature intended but pretty average in the big scheme of things.

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