Author Topic: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview  (Read 1826 times)

Online Titi Camara

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Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« on: August 10, 2016, 03:40:38 PM »
Many thanks to Archie for putting the questions and format together...7 of RAWKs finest Scribes and 1 other put pen to paper on the upcoming season! :wave
Time for the RAWK curtain raiser for the season.

Including out January recruits, do you think the squad looks stronger than last season?

Phil M - Absolutely. Very happy about the signings we've made although I would hazard a guess that most supporters would like to see an experienced left back to come in as that seems to be our most exposed/vulnerable area on the pitch.
Klopp has basically bought goals and assists in Mane and Wijnaldum and although I'm sad to see Joe Allen leave it's clear from an attacking sense at least the manager wants players who can contribute and make the difference from midfield areas and take some pressure off the striker(s).

Rhi - Yes, I think so. I'm a little worried about the defence, especially as we don't really know how long Sakho will be out and if we can rely on him when he's back, plus Moreno is not exactly the best defensive full back around (nor do I think he's as bad as made out by some). However on the whole I think we're a stronger squad, a fitter squad, and we'll be a better prepared squad this year than we were last.

Titi Camara - Absolutely no doubt. We have methodically and systematically addressed almost every perceived weakness in the side (and a few many hadn't even considered). We have also moved on several names who either weren't contributing at the level required or weren't considered able to make the step to the level required, this in turn has opened up a path for the next phase of youngsters to be given opportunities in and around the first team.

lankyguy007. - Yes, definitely. We have better quality in depth in attacking positions, more of a goal threat in Wijnaldum and Mane, direct upgrades in Matip and Karius and a really interesting young player in Grujic. More importantly, I think we're seeing a better representation of both the skill-sets and mindset that Klopp desires. Whether we've improved as much as we can do is another question but I think it's obvious that our squad has improved.

BabuYagu - Very very much so. I feel last season, tactically, Klopp made lots of adjustments to his ideal tactical plan to accommodate the squad he inherited. Now he will be looking to move us more towards where he wants us to be.

No666 - Yes, especially because the players have been recruited to Klopp’s perfected vision. It’s coherent. During so many windows in the past – take Rafa’s obsession with Gareth Barry even before we come to Carroll and Benteke – I’ve questioned our signings and whether they signal a tweak, a shift, from what appeared to be the established style towards something else.

Yorkykopite - It's stronger. This feels like the first summer for a while that we haven't lost one of our main players. Meanwhile the ones we've bought look interesting and designed to plug obvious deficiencies - in goal and central defence, in particular.

Grobbelrevell - Are Karius, Matip, Klavan, Wijnaldum and Mane an improvement on Mignolet, Skrtel, Toure, Allen and Ibe? On the face of it and from the snippets we've seen so far you'd say yes, although ultimately not all of them may succeed at the club. At the very least there appears to be a logic to each of the signings that have been made though. From Karius and Matip, to Wijnaldum and Mane, what I think we've seen from our transfer strategy is a focus on attributes that (i); we lacked, and (ii); are in tune with the managers intended style. So, whilst for some it may not have seen the individuals that they'd like come into the club, it should hopefully see a stronger, more balanced team in red emerge overall. The quizzical looks from certain quarters when we signed Mane, whilst United signed Mkhitaryan, was predictable, and shortsighted. Mkhitaryan is undoubtedly an excellent player, but it's not about reputation, or even just about ability, but also about need. Look at what the team and squad lacked last season; A confident, pro-active goalkeeper? Karius. Aerial ability and physical presence? Matip, Klavan and Grujic. Third man running beyond the ball and a goal threat from central areas? Wijnaldum. Pace, direct running and a goal threat from wide areas? Mane. The Barcelona game underlined, emboldened and highlighted the expected contrast between our attacking style twelve months ago and now and it was hugely encouraging. Suddenly it feels like we have an abundance of pace, energy, and an intent to run beyond the ball from different areas of the pitch. Suddenly there's a devilish, and unified, desire to steal possession and to break at speed with a coordination the likes of which we haven't seen since 13/14. It feels like a combination of our transfer activity and the time on the training pitch that Klopp has talked about consistently is bearing these results. It's also been the first summer in several where we've not lost one of our best players, which is a huge plus in itself.
To temper the overall optimism I'm feeling slightly, there remains areas within the team and squad that i'd hoped to see addressed by now which haven't been to date. Hopefully there's one or two more still to come.

Which of our signings could have the biggest impact?

Phil M - I think given his sheer pace and natural ability most will say Mane but personally I think Lorus Karius could well be a hugely important signing. We all saw what De Gea has been doing for the mancs for the past few seasons. He is a truly world class keeper who wins points single-handedly (sometimes with both hands too!) and while I have respect for Simon Mignolet if we are to progress it's vital we have a strong presence and a keeper with an aura of invincibility about him and to me physically Karius carries himself like a lad who deserves to be Liverpool FC's number one. Hopefully he'll recover speedily and fully from the injury and we can see what he's made of.

Rhi - Wijnaldum I reckon. I think a lot will go for Mane's pace, but I've been really impressed with the way Wijnaldum has slotted in so far, and the way he seems to understand football. He's an intelligent player, an intelligent lad, and I think we've had too few of those in recent years. People who are a step ahead in their heads. Maxi Rodriguez, Xabi Alonso, etc... someone who knows how to be in the right place at the right time. Someone who can see where the space is going to open up. I don't think he'll be flashy, but I think he'll make an enormous difference to us in the middle of the park. We've been very mechanical in the middle for a couple of years now. We need someone who's a bit more cultured in there to complement Phil and Bobby further forward.

Titi Camara - Sadio Mane - He genuinely offers something we were lacking last term. I just hope the opportunities he makes for others by occupying space and/or defenders doesn't go unnoticed.

lankyguy007. - If we're just thinking about this season, I think it will be Wijnaldum. He's a quality player - combines well with others (and is able to that with speed), times his runs really well and provides an end product that we haven't really had from midfield. Admittedly, it is partly dependent on where he plays as to whether he performs to his capability in the short term. If he's mainly operating as part of the two in a 4-2-3-1 then it might take him a little while to settle into that role - he struggled quite badly with his defensive positioning against Roma and he'll have to work out how he participates in our build up from the back whilst also being able to contribute further forward. Regardless though, he's a good player who could be a real asset to our squad.
Long term - I think Grujic has a lot of potential if he develops well. I think there's the flexibility there for Klopp to mould him into any of two or three roles.

BabuYagu - I will be a coward and say three names, because I really cannot decide. Karius - because we need a keeper that feels comfortable sweeping up if we are to press high. I think he will be more Neuer than De Gea though. He is a risk taker of a goalie, will come off his line early and could cost us some goals at times as a result. But as a team - we will defend much better as teams will have much less space to exploit. Also - Mignolet is one of the very best shot stoppers I have seen with amazing reflexes. Therefore for MotD fans - they won´t see Karius as an immediate upgrade. He´s not De Gea. But has the potential to get there for sure.
Wijnaldum as we need someone who can play on the half turn and link play better. I think Klopp went with 3 in midfield to solve this last season in the absence of the right player. Plus his late runs into the box will be a nightmare for opponents.
Mane because unlike anybody else in our squad last season (bar Henderson maybe) he will look to fill the void our forwards leave when they drift into the channels (Origi) or drop deep (Studge, Firmino). He also offers us pace which we sorely lack when Origi isn´t available and should help us pin back teams better.

No666 - Mané for the pace and the fear of pace. Karius, I hope. Apart from his comfort in the system, I like his confidence. Long may it last!

Yorkykopite - Mane, probably. I would not want to mark him. Speed, aggression, skill, strength and - from what we've seen - a fierce determination.

Grobbelrevell - Klopp referenced a period in the first half against Barcelona where we became passive. It was not intended as a positive. It's abundantly clear that the manager wants his team to be aggressive, proactive, always on the front foot and that's a narrative that we've heard consistently since his arrival last October. For that kind of approach to excel it requires the entire team to be in tune and suited to it, from front to back. To work in unison, as one. If your goalkeeper is indecisive because he's being required to do things that don't come naturally to him then it can very quickly have a negative impact on those in front of him and in turn becomes very difficult to utilise the high defensive line needed for an aggressive pressing game from the front. He's not as bad as some make out, but a little like his compatriot, Benteke, Mignolet just doesn't look suited to the style of play Klopp is looking to impose. What we've heard about Karius, and the little we've seen from him so far, suggests that he is. He certainly isn't lacking in confidence or aggression, that's for sure. If he's the man who can lead the defence from behind in a way that we've lacked since Pepe Reina at his best then he has the potential to be absolutely key over the coming years. It's important to remember that he's only 22 though. We'll need to be patient with him.

Is there anywhere on the pitch you hope we look to strengthen before the transfer window closes?

Phil M - As above, our left full back position is a worry. Alberto Moreno might be okay at home against lesser sides and he's a game lad who has had some great moments for us but consistently his defensive positional play leaves a lot to be desired and I'm not sure anyone would be happy were we to go into the new season with the prospect of James Milner as our fill-in LB. Saying that I think Milner would do a fine job but let's face it it's not an ideal situation if that's how it pans out.

Rhi - Full back. It's not a disaster if we start the season with Moreno at LB, but if he or Clyne gets injured, we're painfully short on cover, regardless of James Milner's ability to play there as cover.

Titi Camara - It feels like genuine folly to not strengthen at LB given the sale of Brad Smith. The current pecking order probably looks like...
Moreno - Milner - Gomez - Clyne (with Randall or TAA filling in at RB)
...which frankly doesn't look good enough for a side with genuine title aspirations. I obviously trust in our manager and his judgment but I feel come the end of the window all his comments to date will look more like brinkmanship and good business sense rather than how others seem to perceive them right now.
I feel we will make a late, late bid to bring in Dahoud. If he's the man Klopp wants then why not make another concerted push for him? We have the money and getting the player sooner rather than later can only benefit us in the long run.
And finally, and again contrary to some public comments made, I think there's still room and time for a big name signing. Draxler has been on the periphery or the transfer rumours all summer.....

lankyguy007. - Two or three places, I think. The midfield is still a key issue for me; I think there's a real risk of us being too reliant on Can holding it together. Grujic is still young, Henderson has generally struggled in a midfield two, there are real doubts over Lucas and we don't have a controlling midfielder at the moment. Given Can's skill-set, I think there is the potential for Klopp to develop him to play deep or be able to push on, and as such, there is some flexibility as to whether we look at a DM or whether we look at a midfielder who controls and associates play just ahead of a DM. Either way, I would be looking at filling one of those roles.
The two other places would be CB - in my opinion, we don't have enough there, especially given the injury proneness of our best defender (Sakho) - and FB. Clyne played too many games last season, Moreno could be upgraded but it has to be the right player and if we can't upgrade him well enough, we still need backup. Milner could work but I'd be a little wary about him defending big spaces and I wouldn't want to rely on Alexander-Arnold at just 17, nor risk slowing Joe Gomez's development by giving him more minutes at FB than at CB.

BabuYagu - Full back - just because we are very short of options and think we could use someone there for games when Moreno´s overly attacking nature will hurt us the most. Aside from that - I´m good unless we get some injuries or departures (e.g. Lucas).

No666 - I won’t harp on about fullback or even midfield. I do wonder about our lack of ‘leader’ personalities. Henderson is a great role model. Rodgers mistook those qualities for the ones needed by a captain. I appreciate Klopp’s call to the support and our need to ‘believe’ but it shouldn’t just be a two-way street between the boss and the kop. The players need to demonstrate it, too, regularly, and not just when the ground is rocking under the floodlights on a Thursday night.

Yorkykopite - Hector would be nice!

Grobbelrevell - Left back. With Brad Smith leaving for Bournemouth we only have one specialist senior left back at the club in Moreno, with arguably Joe Maguire the next in line. Yes, we have options who 'can play there' in the likes of Milner, Clyne and Joe Gomez (once fit), but could you make an argument for left back being the best position for any of them? And is that enough - is 'can play there' enough? I don't think it is. There are question marks over Moreno as it is, so genuine competition for him was pretty high on my hopes for this summer. Cover at the very least should have been a fundamental requirement, and given the protracted pursuit of Leicester's Ben Chilwell, it clearly was. Hopefully there remain irons in the fire on this one.

Mignolet and Moreno are two of our squad players who seem set to play quite a few games. Much has been written and said about them. Do you think they are as bad as they are now perceived to be?  Could negativity from the fans (at the slightest error) have an effect on performance and that of the team?

Phil M - I'm not so sure in regards to Moreno as he seems a carefree happy go lucky character who's enjoying his footy and being at this club. Mignolet on the other hand I think has demonstrated even that he can suffer from the jitters and seems to be more the type who needs that support or encouragement to be at his best. He enters this season as our No.1 due to our new keeper's injury so it's the ideal opportunity for him to show he is deserved of a starting place but you know as well as I do that any costly mistake in upcoming games and the spotlight is going to be thrown on him again. To be fair it's been a while since we've had a settled back 4 and now Toure and Skrtel are gone we start all over again with Lovren/Matip/Klavan/Sakho etc.

Rhi - I don't think Moreno is as bad as lots of people believe. He's certainly an outlet going forward and has the fitness required to be up and down the pitch. His defensive positioning leaves something to be desired, but then he's young and hopefully that can be coached into his game. I think ideally we'd upgrade, but I don't think fullback is as vital a position as is made out. Especially as we learn to defend better as a team.
Mignolet... I really do think he's as bad as he's perceived to be. He drains the confidence of those infront of him. I don't like to criticise Liverpool players as a rule, but I don't think he's good for the team and we can but hope that Karius is back sooner rather than later.

Titi Camara - Of course neither of them are bad as perceived. As a general point, some of the vitriol pointed towards footballers on all forms of social media who don't play 10/10 every week and aren't called Messi borders on the absurd. It's a disease of modern day sports, not just football, and it's endemic, a product of capitalism infecting the game, the creation of the "global brand". Fans think they have a right to be entertained rather than actually supporting their club so anything less than winning every trophy available amounts to the team and the players being shite. So no I don't buy into the hang wringing dickheads calling them both every name under the sun.
On the flip side, and hopefully with a bit of rationality and objectivity, I do maintain that they could and should both be improved upon for the coming season, and on the evidence so far Klopp agrees with me on at least on one of them.
Yes of course fan negativity can affect a player/teams performance. I recall Dominic Matteo being slaughtered by the Anfield faithful every time he had the temerity to go even near the ball and yet he went onto to captain Leeds United for years. We need to "support" not just the two players you've highlighted but every player who pulls on the shirt for us regardless of anything else!

lankyguy007. - It's always hard to avoid scrutiny once you've got a reputation. Every error feels like confirmation. Even ones that aren't necessarily outright mistakes but where there's a sense a better player might have done more get criticised (that's especially the case with Mignolet when we see the performances De Gea puts in every week).
With Moreno, I personally think he was one of our best players in the initial period after Klopp took over. He just fell away more and more in the last few months of the season, even if at times he became the scapegoat despite others making mistakes of equal importance in the same passage of play.
Clearly we can upgrade both of them and I think Karius is an immediate upgrade on Mignolet. As fans, we don't have to be blind to the situations - Mignolet's never going to become a world class goalkeeper, Moreno's not going to suddenly turn into Philipp Lahm. At the same time, it's easy to blow mistakes out of proportion when they're made by a player we've already decided is error prone (even if we're correct in both of these cases).

BabuYagu - 1. Definitely not. In the right system, they both shined as players to the extent we signed them for a lot of money. If you put Mignolet in a side who play a low block - he will shine again. Unfortunately that seems unlikely to be here. Moreno is another story. I believe as we haven´t settled into Klopps system - and also didn´t have some of the crucial pieces for it. As a result, we haven´t mastered the arts of being compact and compressing space yet. Thus exacerbating a lot of Moreno´s problems. A good example is Lovren. You gave Lovren acres of space to play in, and he will drown. But put him next to a natural covering defender, and a solid full back, he no longer looks the disaster he was 12 months ago. Moreno is a very useful in executing pressing traps due to his explosiveness and is the higher of the two full backs in Klopps system. What this means is - one tends to move forward in the transition phase (as soon as we win the ball) and the other later in the attacking phase. This is a tactical instruction. Not Moreno being a dumb headless chicken that hasn´t learned and keeps getting caught ahead of play. The problem is we haven´t mastered our play in the transition yet which means we are regularly giving the ball away and exposing Moreno. Moreno has excellent recovery pace and tackling technique too - but we need to be better in the transition. A midfielder who can turn on the ball and a winger to stretch play will actually help Moreno.
Klopp probably feels in those circumstances, any explosive fullback will struggle. And it´s hard to separate out Moreno´s failures and the system letting Moreno down and so wants more time to judge the player with a better tactical structure around him.
2. For sure. Confidence and form are things that are not really measurable in football and yet we see their importance all their time to players. Based on Mignolets comments about his wife needing to motivate him, I imagine he is someone more affected than Moreno who seems a far happier and self-motivated personality. But on some level it will affect them.
Ultimately though - I think publically and privately Klopp has handled Moreno well. There has been no talk or links to players who would replace him. Just for someone to understudy or play backup to him. Klopp is doing everything he can, as a manager, to keep Moreno´s confidence and motivation high.

No666 - Undoubtedly, although Moreno seems to be a cheerful soul. Reading BabuYagu’s posts have made me understand far more what’s going on on his side of the field so I am going to watch that with new interest.

Yorkykopite - Moreno is pretty good I think and certainly nowhere near as bad as he's sometimes made out. Mignolet is a great shot stopper but he lacks two essential elements of a great keeper - speed and courage. I also don't trust him with the ball at his feet, although he's improved under Klopp it must be said.

Grobbelrevell - No, and yes. Have either been consistently good enough to date? No. Are they as bad as some make out? No. Moreno in particular remains young enough to develop, I certainly wouldn't be one of those ready to give up on him. And absolutely yes, negativity from the crowd undoubtedly has the ability to adversely affect performance. I understand the frustration with both players - I share many of them, but they should be aired outside of the ground as far as I'm concerned. The moment you enter the ground you support every lad in red, regardless of whether you think they're good enough or ultimately have a long term future at the club. Klopp referenced the crowd as the single biggest differential in football and I agree with him. We've seen it in the past, and it works both ways.

Klopp has made some bold statements about his signings, the squad and our approach to the season ahead. What are your thoughts on this?  Are we approaching things the 'correct' way? 

Phil M - I think pre-season has been pretty decent. We have had a few wins, seen our new signings bed in well and most of all the team bonding and camaraderie seems to be there in abundance. Remember that it's not just on the pitch where we've seen improvements, the likes of Kornmayer coming in bring an added degree of professionalism and discipline to proceedings and we've seen those quotes from the likes of Danny Sturridge about the intensity of the training and what the manager wants to get across to his group. The Barca game will be very interesting as we'll be dealing with a side who will keep the ball extremely well in front of us and expose any vulnerability in behind. This is a good opportunity to get a mental practice in for when we face the likes of Pep's side or even Arsenal away opening day as it's all about where we concentrate the press and quickly transitioning into an attacking threat utilising the spaces possibly in wide areas where pace and 1 v 1  or 2 v 1 battles will be key and in Mane, Firmino, Coutinho, Origi, Sturridge and Wijnaldum/Lallana etc I believe we carry the type of counter-attacking threat that teams will simply struggle to cope with.

Rhi - He makes bold statements about everything. The proof will be in the pudding. I like his attitude, I like his confidence, and I think the club is moving in the right direction under his stewardship.

Titi Camara - What's the point in competing if you don't think you can win it. I applaud his attitude and his comments.

lankyguy007. - I think people are a bit fed up with hearing about three or five year plans. Football's so chaotic and unpredictable at times and progress just doesn't happen in a linear fashion more often than not. For Klopp to come out and say that there are no excuses ahead of this season, no "things take time", is a breath of fresh air - it shows not only does he have confidence in this squad but also that he wants to install a mentality of fighting for everything we can with no boundaries. He doesn't want us to just accept fourth or fifth place because it's a good building block; he wants us to fight as hard as we can and see where we end up. That is very exciting.

BabuYagu - I love it. He asks us to believe again. What a better way to show us what that means than by showing nothing but 100% faith in his squad to get it done. He has doubts now and it gives us licence to doubt the side too.

No666 - I love Klopp. He’s a great manager as well as being a great coach. He’s the perfect fit for our club, in terms of emotion, rhetoric and style of play. So, yes.

Yorkykopite - If Klopp's genuinely happy then so am I. You feel that we have a manager at last who knows exactly what he's looking for. My only question mark would be his choice of captain.  Does he really believe Henderson is a leader and does he intend to start most games with him in the eleven? Of course it would be difficult to take the captaincy away from Hendo - he's the senior player in terms of longevity at Anfield and he's an Englishman.

Grobbelrevell - In stating that our aim is to challenge, and not in 2-3 years time, but now? Absolutely yes, that should be the aim every season anyway, it shouldn't need affirming by the manager. It's a bold approach but I like the confidence being shown, and the ambition. Ultimately performances and results will need to back it up, but it's a refreshing change from the five year plans and seemingly constant narrative of transition.

On a similar note, the criticism has been levelled at the owners (and in some quarters, the manager) that Liverpool 'lack ambition'. Do you agree?

Phil M - I'm not sure where that criticism has come from, can't say I've really read too much in the way of dismissive views or discontent. I think given our financial outlay, it's important we balance the books net spend wise and offload players who quite clearly are not part of Klopp's plans i.e Balotelli/Benteke and I think possibly even Markovic / Lucas as well. If we can recoup some money and get market value for some of the aforementioned lot and hopefully bring in a full back we have little to be moaning about.

Rhi - No. I honestly think it's utter madness to suggest that we lack ambition when we landed one of the top 3 most sought after managers in football last season, and are on the verge of completing an enormously impressive new stand at our spiritual home. We've spent an awful lot of money on players (blah, blah net spend) and while we haven't committed to matching the top, top wages, I think it's a sensible approach to live within our means. We are in as good financial health as ever. It took time, effort and patience to get us back here from the brink. Success on the pitch is now going to be a marathon not a sprint, as illustrated by Klopp's new contract. The signings we'll see come in over the next 18 months will also build towards something bigger. We have to be patient. We're not Man City. We're not Chelsea. And let's be honest, thank fuck for that.

Titi Camara - No

lankyguy007. - I don't think it's a lack of ambition necessarily - I mean I certainly wouldn't use that label to describe a club that went out and secured one of the best managers in world football.
At the same time, the way they failed to impose the football structure they wanted because of Rodgers' aversion to it and then allowed the clear disconnect between him and the TC to persist for three years, whilst talented young players failed to be developed properly and big money signings didn't perform to the level we needed them to, is concerning. I think we could really do with a DoF at this stage.

BabuYagu - No. I could elaborate but I honestly think people who believe this just aren´t worth the effort. Nothing I or anyone else says will convince them or something they have decided to be true, so why bother?

No666 - I don’t think either owners or manager lack ambition. What we lack, comparatively, is money and also a top-class CEO/Chairman. I’m an auld arse. I still hark back nostalgically to the days of Smith. While I buy in to Klopp’s ideal of only recruiting players who are eager to come, I think someone ‘above’ him in the structure should have the wisdom to recognise when a compromise needs to be found. Klopp wanted Chilwell. We dicked about over the fee. He signed a new contract. They peddled the PR: he didn’t ‘want’ us enough. But it works both ways. Maybe Chilwell wasn’t convinced we really wanted him. From his point of view, we were prepared to risk losing him for the sake of a couple of million.

Yorkykopite - I don't think so. The lack of European football is a bigger problem and that's not their fault.

Grobbelrevell - I think FSG are damned if they do, and damned if they don't in many senses. Most, if you asked them, would tell you that they want Liverpool FC to act intelligently and work within their means. To build the commercial arm of the club organically and in turn use the increased finance that it brings to invest in the squad and the infrastructure to improve the standing of the club overall. And whilst I have certain frustrations with FSG, their financial approach to running the club is not one of them. It's been transparent from the outset, consistent - and exactly in line with what most claim they want to see. It's the right way to run the club as far as I'm concerned as well, and yet many of those same people who claim to advocate this approach will also argue for 'marquee' signings, record transfer fees and structure busting salaries. Well, which is it, guys? Because you can't have it both ways. We claim we don't want a Sheikh to buy us the league because it would feel hollow, yet we bitch and whine for the end result that a Sheikh's blank cheque would bring. FSG appointed one of the best coaches in the world ten months ago, a move roundly applauded as being perfectly in tune with the culture of the club - but also of the approach that FSG have implemented. A man renowned across Europe for his track record at working with and developing lesser known talents, often plucked from the more obscure European leagues, rather than spending big on the established world elite. So, why is it that we're surprised, even angry, that this has proven to be the case again now? What are we expecting? If the manager is stating publicly that he's been backed and he's happy, then that's good enough for me. I don't think he's the kind of character to tow the party line if that wasn't the case. Let's back the manager we all wanted and see where he can take us.

Performance wise, have you drawn any conclusion about our approach/tactics during pre-season?

Phil M - Well I picked up on Klopp's comment about not being just about using the 4-3-3 and that he has other systems in mind. Which to be honest would sound quite foolish if he didn't I suppose, but to answer the question posed, I think we'll see a 4-2-3-1 but dependent on the game this could transform into a 4-2-2-2 where we'll always have the pivoting deeper CM alongside the more technical attacking CM so a combination of Hendo-Can or Hendo-Wijnaldum with Coutinho and Mane/Firmino and one of Origi/Sturrudge as the lone striker. At home, purely speculating here given the signings, but I'd expect to see a more flexible and dynamic attacking formation with perhaps Can at the base, Wijnaldum/Lallana  and Coutinho in interchanging inside left and right central and wide attacking areas and perhaps Firmino as a false 9 or simply support striker with Origi/Sturridge.

Rhi - Nope. :)

Titi Camara - Every game we've seen so far the players have been physically fatigued, as a result it's difficult to try and judge the tactics but I'm sure others more aware than myself (Prof, Trend etc) can shed some light on this.

lankyguy007. - It's always hard to draw conclusions from pre-season; fitness obviously plays a huge part and in a summer where many senior players have to join late because of international tournaments, it's hard to build tactically in the way you'd ideally want to.
I think there are definite hints though. The willingness to press from the front has been an obvious continuation from last season. The use of 4-3-3 is another interesting development and you can already see some of the pressing movements we're looking for out of that formation - one player triggers the press, CF closes down the near side CB, wide player cuts off the flank to force play inside, wide player on the opposite side is ready to pressurise the free CB if play is switched and the two CMs support the press, with the holding midfielder retaining shape behind them.
I think one of the key questions from pre-season though is how we merge our build up play with our attacking play. There have been flashes of really promising attacking play at times this pre-season. The first Sturridge chance against Roma is a great example - excellent interplay and movement from the front four, diagonal runs across the line of the ball carrier, creating space for each other and forcing the Roma back four to 'collapse' centrally. With the addition of Wijnaldum and Mane, both players who want to run into space, there is the potential for some really great attacking play this season, especially on the counter attack (notable that all four goals against Barcelona came on the transition).
The issue for me is that the quality of our build up play from deep midfield has been pretty mediocre in pre-season - the movement has often been too static, we've had players taking up each other's space at times, not making themselves available at other times, not making good angles, sometimes slowing the tempo down by actually coming too close to receive the ball (Coutinho has this issue) etc. In my opinion, how we combine our middle third play with our final third play is going to be key this season.

BabuYagu - Yes - and I´ll be writing an article about this in the very near future. Watch this space.

No666 - We are in transition yet again. Klopp is really at the beginning of a period - and I think it will take a good two years - of getting the right players successfully coached to carry out his instructions. At least where we are going is worth the pain. Let’s just stick with this now for the full six years.

Yorkykopite - Joe Root's been fabulous and Cook has captained well.
Oh, the footy? Haven't watched enough to comment.

Grobbelrevell - Whilst I expect the formation to shift both between and within games at times, I think it's clear that we're often going to see a coordinated, aggressive intensity with an intent to commit numbers to the attack, whether that's players breaking at speed on the counter attack, or arriving into the box from deeper positions during a possession phase. What I'd hope to see it allied with is a concentrated, but above all, compact unit, because the niggling concern rests with the number of times opposition have found space too easy to come by in front of our defensive line. Hopefully that's down to fatigue during a hectic preseason and not anything more concerning than that. I do think that Karius, with his evidently more aggressive positioning, will help in this regard when he returns as well.

Is Sturridge still the main striker? Is Origi challenging his position in the team? Can they, will they play together? What do you make of our choices up front? 

Phil M - If Sturridge is fit he starts every game for me but we know how much Klopp thinks of Origi and what a talent this lad looks. It's a mouth-watering prospect imagining those 2 up top given the close control, touch, physicality and speed let alone finishing finesse these two possess but Origi is still raw and Daniel Sturridge should be entering his prime. I think it will be a case of horses for courses, remembering that Klopp loves his lone Lewandowski type once he builds the right 'ammunition' shall we say around him so I reckon more than likely we'll see one start and one on the bench and in games where we're chasing that elusive winner at 0-0/1-1 we might go all guns blazing as we did on a few occasions last season and see both of them in tandem. Let's not forget Danny Ings who could well prove a very important asset for us this season also.

Rhi - Yes and yes and yes. Sturridge is the main man. He's quality. He's one of the best around when fit. Having said that, I'm not entirely sure he fits Klopp's system. But he'll be given the chance to try because his goalscoring record is second to none. Origi is good though. Very good. Loads of ability and loads of graft to go with it. I think that we'll see them play together quite a lot. Not as a top 2 so much, but certainly with one of them dropping deeper as one of the wide attackers. They are both capable of it. Origi more so. The Owl played Sturridge there for England over the summer, and he didn't disgrace himself. In a more structured system and with more willing runners around him, he can certainly do some damage from a bit deeper too. Exciting times. If only we can keep them both fit.

Titi Camara - Currently I don't think there's actually much between them. I'd play Sturridge from the start at home and Origi away given the respective attributes of both. Sturridge is still the go to guy though and if he finds his goal scoring boots he becomes undroppable.

lankyguy007. - It's very clear that Sturridge is our best striker - he's proven time and time again how good a goal scorer he is and also how important just his presence in the team is for us. At the same time, Origi is perhaps a more natural fit stylistically for a Klopp side and at the moment he's doing a very good job of giving Klopp a selection headache.
I see no reason why they couldn't perform well together - it suits Sturridge having someone mobile and hard working to play alongside because it relieves some of the burden whilst also creating space for him, and you'd imagine Origi would love to be able to link up with a player as brilliant as Sturridge. The issue is how it impacts the team behind them - Mane's been brought in for a lot of money, Coutinho is a hard player to drop, Firmino, despite his inconsistency at times, is probably one of the first names on the team sheet. If Klopp were to play Sturridge and Origi together, you'd imagine that Origi would probably have to play off one of the flanks and that takes away a lot of the advantage you would get from playing the both of them, especially as Origi performs much better centrally.
I think it may well be largely dependent on Sturridge's form. If he's firing at a level we all know he has in him then it's pretty hard to leave him on the bench. If he isn't then Klopp may see fit to rotate between them, depending on the game and the opponent.

BabuYagu - 1. I think there is no right answer here. In key games I think we will see Origi or Firmino in there. Against other sides who don´t try to play it out from the back, we will see Sturridge who is a bigger goal threat. But even that isn´t as clear cut anymore. Origi has looked a threat every game I´ve seen him in the last 6 months and I genuinely can´t say the same of Sturridge.
2. Very much so. In fact I would say Origi is our preferred striker in important matches. Pressing traps play a more crucial role in those games and we struggle to use them with either Sturridge or Benteke in the side.
3. Yes - and we will see it at times. But I think it will be the exception rather than the norm. To be used to solve a particular tactical question the opposition asks of us. It would be at the expense of Firmino or (more likely) Mane though. I´d imagine we would see a diamond in midfield then with Firmino at the point and Coutinho deeper. Which intrigues me a lot as his ability to link play in that position is mouth-watering. The other alternative would be to play Sturridge as a Trequartista. As in a free role forward to just roam where he pleases while Origi plays as a long striker. Klopp has played a 4-4-2 system similar to this in the past (remember Hodgson´s comment about seeing Dortmund playing 4-4-2 and nobody criticising them for being tactically niave?). However, without the ball, the Trequartista drops into midfield making a 4-1-4-1 formation. In fact whatever way we lineup, when we are pressing we will probably always look pretty much like a 4-1-4-1.
4. Ings - I like him. He is excellent at pressing defensive passing triangles and prevents the opposition recycling possession. He´s also good playing off the shoulder of the defenders and working the channels and takes the chances that come his way more often than not. Unlike Origi, Sturridge or Firmino though, he is unlikely to make a goal for himself so he really needs support or he looks even more isolated than Sturridge. From memory, he is good at making space and providing a good ball from full backs too to quickly link defence and attack. Although if he is going to be doing that he needs someone exploiting the space he leaves (hello Mane, Wijnaldum).
Benteke - No. Doesn´t fit. Breaks down everything we want to do on so many levels. Watching him for us is akin to watching a heavyweight boxer in an MMA fight.
Balotelli - Make the pain stop.

No666 - I doubt Sturridge remains the clear numero uno. I think Origi is more than challenging him especially if Sturridge’s hip problems continue.

Yorkykopite - For me it's Sturridge. But, as ever, with Sturridge the big question mark is his durability. Should he play, say, 35 games I'd expect him to score 20-plus goals. For all the brilliance shown by Origi I wouldn't yet bank on him to become so prolific. Not yet anyway.
The other one to look out for is surely Danny Ings. He's the type of player who seems to take his chance. Two or three goals from the bench and Klopp may find himself unable to resist starting with the player.

Grobbelrevell - Sturridge remains our best player, for me. He's the one genuinely top level talent that we have in the squad. When he's fit and firing I don't think that's up for debate. Under Klopp, I suspect, as we saw towards the end of last season, he won't be a guaranteed starter, and not because he isn't rated or anything like that, but I expect to see us rotate the strikers based on the opposition and what it's felt that we need on the day, as well as both form and fitness, of course. What's feels really positive is that we seem to have a good mix of attributes in Sturridge, Origi, Firmino and Ings. Pace, power, guile and ultimately; goals. It's funny to think that in January the consensus was that we desperately needed a striker, and yet now, eight months on and without signing anyone (and also factoring in the expected departures of Benteke and Ballotelli), we feel almost overstocked. Suddenly an injury setback to Sturridge doesn't feel fatal, where once it was head in hands time. It's a nice position to be in, and it's one that could just prove to be the difference in whether we achieve our aims for the season.

Like it or not, cameras will be focused on the touchline like never before. Other teams have strengthened and some new managers need no introduction. What do you make of our rivals? Can we match, or even better them on the field?

Phil M - I think we'd be foolish not to expect a completely different season to last. Guardiola and Conte have not come to pick up paycheques. Man City to me currently look the best side on paper although they need to sign a CB perhaps. Aguero, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Sane, Nolito, Silva, Sterling etc is a pretty mouth-watering attack and we know Conte will have his lot well drilled. It'll be tough enough trying to beat West Ham and Leicester away from home but our games v the big financial giants will be a good indicator as they often are of how far away we are.
One thing I want to mention is that our fanbase should be/have to be patient.  Klopp is re-building, we reached 2 cup finals in his first season despite a rake of injuries to key players and a lot of basically bad luck and some awful refereeing decisions at times. Not to sound like a bitter but we have to take advantage of the fact we have no European distractions and can really go gung-ho for that top 4 spot. Spurs and Arsenal will still be thereabouts and you'd be foolish to say that Leicester City will just fall away.
No one should be feared. We are Liverpool FC, we have a new look stadium, a new look side and Jurgen Klopp is our manager. The future is bright as it has been for some time and if you're not excited about getting behind the mighty Redmen this season and the good times ahead on the football rollercoaster that is LFC then you should consult your nearest GP pronto!

Rhi - Could not give a single shit about anyone else to be honest. We're going to steamroller the lot of them. The Reds are coming up the hill, boys.

Titi Camara - They're all shite. We'll batter them all. United are especially shite!

lankyguy007. - "You can be as good as you want but you have no control over the other team. If they are really good you have to bring them to your level. On your level you can kill any team." Jurgen Klopp, 9th October 2015

BabuYagu - Lankyguy stole my quote!!! But yeah - what he said. Although I´m hugely interested to see how Guardiola does in this league. I also can´t wait to see Mourinho in the mix. I think having to deal with Klopp, Guardiola, Conte will make his head explode.

No666 - You’re right – the media will inevitably play this as a battle of managers, given that the Premier League now contains most of the charismatic and successful names available right now. I have every confidence that our manager will manage the focus as well, if not better, than any of the others.

Yorkykopite - Conte will bore everyone's arse off at Chelsea. Spurs will collapse. Leicester will struggle with European mid-week fixtures. Mourinho will get sacked at the end of the season. Guardiola frightens me. 

Grobbelrevell - It's difficult to gage most at this stage. It's great to see so many of the top managerial talent in the Premier League and I'm genuinely intrigued to see how each of them get on in what is likely to be a far more competitive domestic campaign than many will have been used to. For that reason I don't think it's guaranteed that any one in particular will excel, and even if they do in the medium to long term, it could well require some short term turbulence. The hope is that with eight months and two thirds of a season under his belt, coupled with a full preseason and a watered down fixture list to come, that Klopp has advantages in his favour. There are six clubs who will have designs on challenging at the very top, and any of them managing it wouldn't be a surprise. Equally that's a guarantee that at least two are set to fail. Hopefully we're not among them and I don't think we will be.

Injuries aside, what's our strongest line up for them first few games of the season?

Phil M - v Arsenal - assuming Karius/Matip/Moreno are injured

Mignolet

Clyne Lovren Klavan Milner

      Henderson Can

Mane Firmino Coutinho

     Sturridge

Subs: Manninger, Randall, Stewart, Lallana, Wijnaldum, Ings? Origi

Rhi -
Mignolet
Clyne Lovren Matip (Klavan if injured) Moreno
Can Wijnaldum
Mane Firmino Coutinho
Sturridge

Subs: Manninger, Randall, Milner, Henderson, Ings, Origi

Titi Camara - I think the biggest question marks remain around or CB pairing and our CM pairing. With Wijnaldum in CM it almost becomes a 4-1-4-1 it's that attacking but maybe that's the point. I think one thing that's obvious though is that we probably won't have a very clearly defined starting 11 and I think they'll be a lot of rotation in the front 6.

---------------------------------Karius

Clyne----------------Lovren----------------Matip----------------Moreno

--------------------Wijnaldum---------------Can

-------------Mane--------------Firmino---------------Coutinho

--------------------------------Sturridge

lankyguy007. - In terms of shape, I think there's a couple of factors. We looked a little vulnerable playing 4-2-3-1 against Roma; there was more of a disconnect in the team defensively and it put more pressure on Can (in his first game back) and Wijnaldum (whose defensive positioning in a midfield two was pretty poor). Given we're facing Arsenal in the first game of the season, Klopp will want to make a statement and he certainly won't want to the start the season with us being open and defensively vulnerable. Can's only recently joined up with the squad so will probably not be at his sharpest, Henderson generally performs a long way below his level in a midfield two, Wijnaldum probably needs a bit of time to learn his role if he's to be played in a midfield two and I can't see Klopp throwing Grujic straight into the mix. For all these reasons, I think Klopp will be very tempted to opt for a 4-3-3 over a 4-2-3-1 early on.
What may change his mind ahead of the first game is Arsenal's CB crisis - without Koscielny, Mertesacker and Gabriel, it may well be wise to drop a midfielder and start Origi. With him and Mane running behind the Arsenal defence, we'll be able to create more space for Firmino and any runners from midfield.
If Origi does start, then I think there's the possibility of a hybrid of the two formations, with Firmino dropping in at LW to make a 4-1-4-1 out of possession, then moving inside (with Coutinho moving more towards the left) in possession. We had a similar move last season on the right, with Milner often making diagonal movements towards the right flank from CM, allowing Lallana to move into the 'half space' inside. The difference then was that Can was often left isolated in midfield as a result. In this setup however, he'd still have another midfielder to his right (most probably Henderson or Wijnaldum). That would enable us to retain solidity in midfield whilst still providing a real threat to Arsenal's back line.
As far as CBs go, I think it was interesting that when Klopp partnered Matip and Lovren together at the start of pre-season, it was Matip who played RCB, despite the fact that Lovren's improvement last season came from that side. With Klavan coming in to join Sakho as our LCB options, I think the evidence points to Matip being our first choice RCB, with Lovren as the backup RCB; although with Matip just back from injury, I think Lovren will probably play against Arsenal. Clyne and Moreno seem pretty obvious starters at FB.

BabuYagu -
GK Karius
RB Clyne
CB Lovren (Matip phased in during the season)
CB Sakho
LB Moreno
SCM Can
RCM Wijnaldum
RW Mane
SS Firmino
LW Coutinho
CF Origi

I think that is our best XI players, tactically. It has lots of problems though. Firstly, leadership. Where is that coming from? Secondly many of our perceived best players last season aren´t there. Sturridge, Milner, Henderson, Lallana.

It interesting though how when I put the best XI down for each position, I ask how they would work as a team. I find myself wanting to get 2 of that 4 onto the pitch and being unsure how to do so.

Yorkykopite - No idea.

Grobbelrevell - Again, I don't expect Klopp to have a 'first eleven' to the degree that some might anticipate. I think it'll be a horses for courses approach at times, but at this stage fitness will be a deciding factor with Klopp referencing over the weekend that for some, preseason will extend beyond the curtain raiser. Most expected those who completed preseason to hold the shirts from day one and I expect that to be the case, with the lineup that started against Barcelona at Wembley the side that takes to the field at The Emirates, injuries permitting. Equally, I expect the odd change as we move through to Burnley, Spurs and Leicester in those opening fixtures.

As is tradition, where will we finish in the league and cups?

Phil M - 4th.

City champions, Chelsea 2nd, Utd 3rd

Us, Arsenal, Spurs and possibly Leicester battle it out for 4th.

League Cup: Semis
Fa Cup: Winners (why not?)

Rhi - We're gonna win the league.

And the league cup.

And go out to someone shite in the early rounds of the FA Cup. ;)

Titi Camara - 1st in the league
Win the FA Cup
A side sprinkled with reserves will take a plucky defeat in the quarter finals of the League Cup to the likes of West Ham.

lankyguy007. - League: 4th, maybe higher if absolutely everything goes to plan but it would be a disappointment if we failed to use our lack of European commitments to our advantage domestically.
LC: Winners
FA Cup: Semis

BabuYagu - 1st, win, win.
Fuck reality. I´ll adjust my expectations when the above is no longer possible. That isn´t what we SHOULD do, because this is the most competitive league in the world. But it´s what is possible.

Yorkykopite - 2nd in the league. One of the cups will be ours - hopefully the FA.

Grobbelrevell - Rafa once argued that salary outlay dictated league finish, and overall that theory is supported by evidence. With that in mind, par for the current Liverpool squad is 5th place, with anything above representing overachievement in a financial sense. Of course, with so many question marks abounding over each of our expected rivals, and with some of the potential advantages enjoyed by Klopp, it's certainly possible. Seeing us put in a stern challenge for the league wouldn't surprise me, but equally, neither would seeing us miss out on top four. If we're in and around it all heading into the new year - and that has to be the first target - we've got the crowd to make the difference in any kind of run-in. If I was putting money down I'd go for top three and a cup, and that would be a great first full season for Big Jürgen's Reds.
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Offline archie

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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2016, 11:32:05 AM »
Bump

Offline markedasred

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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2016, 12:09:52 PM »
Thanks for that a good read. with regard to the question "Is Sturridge still the main striker? Is Origi challenging his position in the team? Can they, will they play together? What do you make of our choices up front?" 442 will be a decent choice against most bottom half of the table teams, so it could be both of them for half our games, assuming fitness. In an ideal world, I can see the pair of them working like two halves of a 2006/7 Drogba - I would play both of them half a game each quite often.
My main concern is the ideal manner of play that Klopp wants will be hard to maintain for a whole season, and the whole peaking about winter time thing has seemingly gone out the window. We shall see if he is right on that one, in Jan/feb.

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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2016, 01:44:38 PM »
Great job Titi and Archie.
It's true to say that if Shankly had told us to invade Poland we'd be queuing up 10 deep all the way from Anfield to the Pier Head.

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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2016, 05:21:43 PM »
Great job guys. Great read!

Offline Djimi Smicer

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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2016, 07:23:44 PM »
Great read.

I'd agree with a lot of the points made, particularly when it comes to the areas (or area) we still need to strengthen, Mignolet & Moreno and the owners.


Offline Lynndenberries

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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2016, 08:41:53 PM »
Appreciate this. Great read.
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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2016, 09:09:34 PM »
Cheers Archie for putting this together, and thanks to all involved.
Brill I'll do this and start of second then wrap this fucking toaster.
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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2016, 12:00:01 AM »
Great read.

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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2016, 02:13:06 PM »
Genuinely surprised no one has called me out for dropping in Draxler's name ::) :o ;D ;D ;D 8) :wave
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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2016, 02:22:31 PM »
Good stuff, enjoyed reading all of that.

In re: to BabuYagu's comment when looking at Mignolet and Moreno:

Quote
2. For sure. Confidence and form are things that are not really measurable in football and yet we see their importance all their time to players. Based on Mignolets comments about his wife needing to motivate him, I imagine he is someone more affected than Moreno who seems a far happier and self-motivated personality. But on some level it will affect them.

For me, Mignolet can be a frustrating player to watch at times but he's also quite an interesting character in that he's not like most footballers. Knows and speaks five languages, has a college degree, wants to go back to school after his playing career is done, interested in politics, etc.

I don't know if he's not as happy as Moreno. Moreno definitely comes across as a happy-go-lucky kinda guy. Mignolet is just a thinker and I think that's what gets him in trouble...And it was his wife that told him to think less on the pitch!

Nothing earth shattering in my post, but BabuYagu's made me think!
http://youtu.be/BrOWKFGlWSY

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Re: Internal Spyin' Kop - 2016/2017 Season Preview
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2016, 06:19:28 PM »
Like it or not, cameras will be focused on the touchline like never before. Other teams have strengthened and some new managers need no introduction. What do you make of our rivals? Can we match, or even better them on the field?

And so it begins -- and Klopp is as unfazed as we expected:

"As he previewed that game at his pre-match press conference, the German explained why the focus should ultimately be on the pitches rather than the dugouts.

“The best thing is we [the managers] don’t play!” said Klopp.

“It’s exciting for everybody having these big names in the league, that’s clear. But in the end, if they all have only one target, one aim – winning the league – then there can be only one really lucky.

“We can think about the answer now. What does that mean for all the others? They failed? Or they still did a good job? Or they did their best? I have no idea what it means. So we have to wait.

“In this moment, it’s England and in England managers have, in public, a more special role than maybe in other countries.

“It’s one part of the performance but not more; we still all have to play and all have to work. It’s not about the names. It’s all about the performance on the pitch."

http://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/first-team/231285-klopp-it-won-t-be-about-the-managers-we-can-t-play
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