How Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool adapted to life post-Coutinho

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How Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool adapted to life post-Coutinho


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In summer 2006, after surrendering the Premier League title to Chelsea in the two seasons prior, one could be forgiven thinking that Sir Alex Ferguson had started to wane at Manchester United when he sold Ruud van Nistelrooy. They recruited only Michael Carrick, without a direct replacement for the goals lost in the side. But what followed was the nascence of Cristiano Ronaldo's meteoric rise - blooming without the stifling effect of providing for van Nistelrooy - and United won trophy after trophy.

Bear with us, Liverpool fans. That can't be easy to relive.

In a similar vein, it appears that Liverpool have done something similar. When they lost Philippe Coutinho in January, vociferous Kopites were angry at the decision and its manner. Talismanic, it was the appearance of being bullied and out-manouevred in the transfer market that was too much for some as it became clear Virgil Van Dijk's arrival was not to support their attacking quartet, but bought with the cash of one its sales.

Four into three does go. Jurgen Klopp has praised Liverpool becoming more 'unpredictable' since Coutinho departed for Catalan climes. Liverpool have embarked on the remainder of their season largely with a vigour reminiscent of 2013-14, when their late burst almost ended in a Premier League pot.

To illuminate exactly why, the London Independent's Simon Hughes joined us on OTB AM. Simon has penned three books into Liverpool's history, as was as On The Brink: A Journey Through English Football's North-West.

Simon believes that even if Coutinho's departure was out of Jurgen Klopp's hands, then it has demonstrated his skills as an adaptive, pragmatic coach.

"I think that Klopp recognised last summer that they wanted Mane, Firmino and Salah to be the front three. Over the last two, three or four years, Coutinho had been one of those front three members. At the start of the season, [Klopp] doctored his position slightly, although he had played in midfield, more often at the end of last season on occasion, in some big games," said Simon.

"I just think that when Klopp knows a player isn't with him, it is difficult to rationalise how to stay with him in many ways. I don't think he was desperate for him to go, but I think that he accepted that 'If he wants to go, I'll find a solution."

Klopp's success differs to previous Liverpool experience, such as the man who signed Coutinho originally. Brendan Rodgers struggled to replace Luis Suarez in the summer of 2014, and the balance of losing a world-class player - understandably - threw the club off-kilter.

"I think that's what separates him from previous Liverpool managers - he finds solutions where other managers don't. He's certainly done that - who would have said that this midfield would be not only capable of supplying the chances for the front three, but the number of chances have actually increased!

"He finds solutions and that is why people relate to him. He doesn't feel sorry for himself. He's in control of every situation."

You can watch OTB AM each weekday from 7:45 on Facebook, YouTube and Periscope.

 


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