Does Jürgen Klopp Get The Respect That He Deserves?

I struggle to remember a match against Burnley that felt as regulation as the game on Saturday evening. The Reds earned the right to play in the first thirty minutes or so, but at no point did we look particularly cowed or threatened by Sean Dyche’s men. Even the fact that the referee seemed to be determined to let them get away with murder at the same time as pulling us up for every little thing didn’t appear to ruffle our feathers. We were significantly the better side, with Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip taking everything Burnley could throw at them and dealing with it easily. Even Adrián appeared comfortable enough when dealing with the long balls and balls thrown into the box, claiming what he needed to and getting rid of what he could. It was the definition of what you’d call ‘accomplished’, which is a far cry from how Liverpool teams of the past would have felt about playing a team as ‘agricultural’ as Dyche’s Burnley.

The Reds now have a good record at Turf Moor, but it’s still seen as a scary place to go because of how Liverpool teams in the past have coped with roughhousing tactics from teams such as Burnley. Whereas Matip and van Dijk simply dealt with things cooly and calmly, players such as Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren would have tried to engage them in wrestling matches and been beaten by them because they weren’t as good at it. Neither Sadio Mané nor Mohamed Salah are what you’d call meatheads, but they both brushed the Burnley players off with ease and went about their job of putting the ball into the back of the net with minimal fuss. Even the ‘falling out’ between them was a storm in a teacup, made more by the press because they know they’ll get clicks by reporting on anything to do with Liverpool. As I watched the Reds deal with Burnley easily enough, I found myself wondering if Jürgen Klopp gets the credit he really deserves?

“He Gives Hugs & Laughs A Lot”

It’s a refrain we’ve all heard before. Jürgen Klopp gets away with losing finals because he gives his players hugs and laughs with reporters. It was an easy enough dismissal by opposition teams’ supporters, desperate to belittle the team that we had become because they were afraid that we were on the right track to becoming successful again. That we’d lost in the finals of the League Cup, Europa League and Champions League just gave fuel to the fire, with any critics of his happily ignoring the fact that he got to the finals in the first place. Unai Emery was one of the managers that won one of those finals, but how much would Arsenal supporters give to swap him for Jürgen Klopp right about now? In fact, the same could probably be said for Real Madrid supporters, with only Manchester City unquestionably delighted with who their manager is.

In adding the Champions League trophy to Liverpool’s cabinet the manager has finally been able to dismiss the notion that he doesn’t know how to win. We went into this season as the European champions and a club that had racked up 97 points in the Premier League last time out. That would have been enough for a title in all but two seasons in the history of the top-flight, with the bad news being that those two seasons were the last two. It already looks as if whichever team finishes second this time around is going to do so with another outrageous points total. You don’t get to mix it with the richest team in the world by giving hugs. The manager’s personality is such that he’s always keen to direct attention away from himself, which is why the idea of Željko Buvač and Peter Krawietz being his brain and his eyes was so easy to believe. It does him a gross disservice to believe it, though.

“Jordan Henderson Is A Terrible Footballer”

I’m more than aware of the fact that Twitter isn’t a place to go for rationale takes or sensible analysis, but even so it’s remarkable how many people seem to have pictures of the manager as their profile photo and names like Kloppo1892 and yet refuse to accept that the manager might know what he’s talking about when it comes to the players in his team. I’ve used Jordan Henderson as the standout example for the headline to this section, but you could just as easily put the likes of Joel Matip, Gini Wijnaldum or even Trent Alexander-Arnold in there. It’s understandable that opposition supporters might not rate the German all that highly, or at the very least pretend that they don’t because they daren’t admit that the Reds are back in the big time. What blows me away is the number of Liverpool supporters who seem to question him regularly.

It’s easy to talk about Jürgen Klopp deserving more respect as if it’s only a problem from outside of the club, yet the reality is that plenty within the support base could do with accepting that he knows what he’s doing. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that managers can never be questioned. Even Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish got things wrong every now and then. Yet they absolutely deserved respect and the same is true of the present incumbent. We all know that the club has spent money since he arrived, but he’s completely transformed the squad and the mentality around the place with a net spend during his reign of £73 million. He rarely gets the tactical credit he deserves, with matches like the one against Burnley proving just how far we’ve come since 2015.

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