5 things Jurgen Klopp can do during the Premier League suspension
As life in England edges towards a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Liverpool squad are in self-isolation after the suspension of the Premier League season.
The Reds are currently not due back in training until the start of April, while the English top-flight is not scheduled to resume until the start of May at the earliest - in this period of uncertainty, however, this time away is likely to be extended further.
So what does the manager of Liverpool Football Club do during such a period? How can Klopp occupy his time at home in Formby, quarantined in the house he bought from Brendan Rodgers back in November?
Here are five things the 52-year-old can do during the Premier League’s long suspension.
For a side still expected to pick up the Premier League title when the campaign resumes, the reality is that Liverpool are on one of their most barren runs of Klopp’s four-and-a-half-year tenure so far.
In fact, the last time the Reds lost four times in a six-game stretch was back in 2017, when a 3-1 defeat at Leicester punctuated a run that saw them fail to produce back-to-back wins once over the course of 12 outings.
There are mitigating factors, of course – most notably Alisson’s layoff with a hip injury – but there is little hiding from the fact Liverpool had been slack defensively in the games prior to football’s enforced interval.
Rodgers once claimed he struck upon the 3-4-2-1 formation that sparked a 13-game unbeaten league run in 2014/15 one night in the same kitchen Klopp is now partially confined to, and the current Reds manager could use this time at home to solve problems of his own.
Skype calls with Peter Krawietz, Klopp’s assistant manager and expert analyst, could become more frequent during these weeks without football - and they could be hugely beneficial to Liverpool.
Not only could Klopp focus on his own side’s failings while in isolation, but this period out of action also allows a forensic inspection of the teams Liverpool are set to face whenever the campaign resumes.
Everton, Crystal Palace, Man City, Aston Villa, Brighton, Burnley, Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle are still on the schedule in the Reds’ title-challenging run, and hours of footage will be available to pore over in these dull days indoors.
Could Everton’s midfield void be the opening Liverpool need? Or could Ederson’s shaky display in the Manchester derby prompt a high press at the Etihad?
Only six points are needed to clinch the club’s first-ever Premier League title, and as has often been the case during Klopp’s reign, it could be in the minor details that these are won.
Despite the inaugural winter break kicking in this season, the Reds have been on particularly demanding run throughout the campaign, and the intensity increased with the Club World Cup in December.
Travelling to Qatar to secure status as champions of the world, only to return to the rigours of the Premier League and Champions League, will no doubt have taken its toll on Klopp.
This suspension could, therefore, be seen as a blessing in disguise in a way - and he has the chance to return revitalised later in the year.
It has long been known that Klopp prefers to meet players personally before sanctioning signings - and in Virgil van Dijk’s case, it landed Liverpool in hot water as they were forced to apologise to Southampton in 2017 after it emerged he had met Klopp in Blackpool without the Saints’ consent.
There is a logic to his approach, as the manager places as much emphasis on character as he does quality when weighing up whether to bring a player to Liverpool.
Gini Wijnaldum has also attested to the persuasive powers of such a situation, having turned down Tottenham in 2016 after a conversation with Klopp “made him feel really good,” with face-to-face talks benefiting both player and manager.
Klopp clearly cannot conduct meetings with prospective signings in this climate - and certainly not shake hands on a deal - but with all parties currently restricted from their usual duties, this time could be used to convince players that their future lies at Liverpool.
Perhaps a FaceTime call with Timo Werner could be a game-changer for the RB Leipzig striker, particularly with his £50.5 million release clause reportedly due to expire in April…
Dreaming of the future
This is a bizarre and, in many ways, frustrating time for Liverpool, who have gone from the brink of sealing their first title since 1990 in record time to not knowing when they will be able to lift the trophy.
The Premier League’s commitment to concluding the current campaign is at least encouraging in that the Reds will in all likelihood be named champions in the coming months, however, and Klopp can use this time as a period of reflection.
Despite the difficulty of life in a pandemic, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic as a Liverpool supporter - and, obviously, as Liverpool manager.
Dreams of the goal that seals the title, the trophy lift, the parade and the legacy it could build will no doubt dominate Klopp’s time in self-isolation.
Liverpool should still be celebrated as champions of England in the near future, moving into an era with Nike kits, a new training ground at Kirkby and, with Klopp having signed a new contract to 2024, the best possible manager at the helm - for the club, this is simply a necessary pause.
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