Liverpool Klopp Episode 14 - Patton
No one would ever mistake Gen. Patton for a warm and fuzzy hugging care bear.
Klopp has been described in those terms by many observers. The enthusiasm he shows on the sidelines make that pretty clear!
However, it is also pretty clear that Klopp has a drive to win and wants to instill that drive into his players.
LFC has gotten some nice wins but mixed in have been a couple of dreadful losses (to Palace and Newcastle) and in sports, the sting of the defeats seem to last longer than the exuberance of victories.
Liverpool returns to EPL play this Sunday against West Brom. Tony Pulis is sure to have the club ready to play hard nosed football against the Reds at Anfield. On the other side Klopp and his brain trust needs to figure out a starting XI.
The goalie plus back 4 picks itself. The question mark is the remaining six.
In the midfield, Klopp will need to choose from Milner, Lucas, Can, Henderson, and Allen. Since Henderson is still recovering from injury, I think you have to go with Milner/Lucas/Can with Henderson off the bench around the 75 minute mark.
The biggest question mark is the LFC front three. Select three from: Coutinho, Lallana, Ibe, Benteke, Firmino, and Origi.
Is it time to go with the Coutinho/Firmino line that did so well against Man City?
The problem is Coutinho is recovering from a hamstring injury and might not be ready to go full throttle for 60-90 minutes. Firmino hasn't done much since that game.
Can't call on the Origi/Sturridge line that demolished Southampton since Sturridge is on the injured list once again.
The Firmino/Ibe/Benteke line didn't generate many serious threats against Newcastle and the Firmino/Lallana/Origi line didn't score against Sion. In fairness though both LFC and Sion were really looking for a draw.
If there was a full week of rest between games, I'd go with Coutinho/Firmino plus one and run at West Brom. But since it is a short turn around and Coutinho is still regaining fitness from the hamstring injury, I'm thinking Klopp has no choice but to go back to Benteke as Origi is still probably too raw to be the solo point of attack in what is close to a must win game if LFC is to compete for the top four.
So who alongside with Benteke?
How about Ibe and Lallana?
Look for Coutinho to sub in around the 60 minute mark and Origi later on if offense is needed.
UPDATE: Coutinho and Henderson got the start! Only saw part of the 1st half. Great goal by Henderson. Unfortunately, West Brom equalized on a set piece and had a goal ruled off-side just before the half. LFC dominated possession but West Brom got 2 goals and LFC was scrambling to equalize which late sub Origi delivered. Thus, LFC salvaged a point in what was close to a must win game. And then there was a post-match controversy involving Klopp and the West Brom coaching staff and handshakes and the team lining up to salute the Kop. To read one view of the controversy see this item over at ESPNFC.com in both article form and in the roundtable of the TV panel. Meanwhile, a defense of the salute over in one analysis piece at the Liverpool Echo.
Time will tell if the salute controversy will turn into a motivational stroke of genius to engage the players and the fan base or an oddly discordant moment in what may yet turn out to be another middling season for LFC. Certainly, the team has shown potential with some great victories and this year's collection of teams in the EPL does not appear to have a dominant club that will lead wire-to-wire so LFC has an outside shot at the top 4. On the other hand, LFC still has gaps in its play and injury woes sapping their vitality. I'd say Klopp is trying to motivate using methods consistent to his personality. General Patton probably wouldn't do it that way but both have the drive to win and will use whatever methods they can to motivate those they lead.
LFC under Klopp: 7-5-2.