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Philosophy vs Trophies: A Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool based outlook

804   //    21 May 2018, 17:05 IST

Liverpool v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League

The topic of Philosophy vs Trophies has for a considerable period been a subject of much debate, especially in the modern day game. One can’t just sit on the fence anymore, a side has to be picked. Modern football rarely sees the integration of style with trophies. Plenty of examples over the recent past reverberate this thought.

Napoli and Liverpool present two such modern-day examples. Two teams who are wonderful to watch from a neutral’s point of view, engaging on and off the ball movements. The two have been, arguably the most intriguing teams to watch this season.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool finished fourth in the league this season and have reached the UEFA Champions League final. It’s been a scintillating ride for the Reds this season. Impressing with their front three, the Merseyside Reds have been nothing short of a goal scoring machine this term.

Eighty-four goals in the Premier League along with forty in the Champions League, Liverpool have been dominant in front of the goal. Their defence was under continuous scrutiny earlier in the season, and while the situation might not be under total control yet. It is considerably better than what it was at the start of the season.

Manchester City v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Etihad Stadium
Mohamed Salah

It would undoubtedly be a great achievement for this Liverpool side under Jurgen Klopp to go on and win this season’s UEFA Champions League. A defeat, however, might turn out to be quite the contrast. This will be the Merseyside club’s second European final in three years and their third overall under the German manager. The club are yet to win one under Klopp’s stewardship, a record which does bring Jurgen Klopp and his methods perhaps under some sort of scrutiny.

While it’s great to get your team playing the “rock and roll” brand of football on the pitch, getting results at the time might be a different prospect altogether. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool while sticking to their philosophy and style have hardly shown the results the club would’ve preferred in terms of trophies. The situation might deepen if Liverpool end up on the losing side in Kiev on May the 26th against Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been an intriguing prospect for neutral football watchers, the pressing, the intensity, the pace, the counterattacks, they’ve all been great at times. But how could one define a managerial era or style as successful without trophies? Trophies are the demand of the modern game. The basic urge because of which one plays the game is to win. While footballing philosophies might be intriguing, exciting and pleasing to the eye, it’s the final yield that matters in most cases.

Liverpool, despite being exhilarating at times this season had to win on the last day to safely finish fourth in the league. The “Gegenpressing” way of playing football and the intensity that it demands is quite high. Intensity so high that the style perhaps might not be well equipped to last an entire season. Not quite enough to win the League title.

Fussball DFB Pokalfinale : Borussia Dortmund - VFL Wolfsburg
Klopp's final season at Dortmund didn't end too well as the club struggled in the league and lost out to Wolfsburg in the Cup

Jurgen Klopp, though, to his credit has two Bundesliga titles with Dortmund in 2011 and 2012. Titles he won believing in this very style and going the distance with it. One might, however, argue regarding the toughness and rigidity of the Bundesliga here.

The Bundesliga being an eighteen-team affair is a smaller league, a smaller league with almost a month of winter break mid-way through the season. Something that, in all proportions, played a part in sustaining Klopp’s style of play. Not to forget how Klopp ended his stint with Dortmund. The club languished in the lower regions for a considerable portion of the season. Something that might’ve perhaps been a toll of the style of play on the players, both mentally and physically.

The point that might perhaps put Liverpool’s future title challenge into perspective. The high intensity, the Gegenpressing might not be a durable solution and might not present an effective challenge through the course of an entire Premier League Season. A league with no winter breaks, operating at a much faster pace, and greater physical strength.

Difficult to imagine Klopp’s brand working out week-in-week-out in the English top division. A better chance of being successful might perhaps be in the cup competitions. Something that Liverpool under the German have already proven.

Three cup finals in his first two and a half seasons has been quite an achievement by Jurgen’s side. Not winning them might seem more like a mental block of some sort. But that remains a different story altogether.

The point here is that Cup competitions present Liverpool’s best offing for trophies and a proper chance to establish Jurgen Klopp’s legacy at the club. And this could all begin in Kiev against Real Madrid this Saturday if Liverpool end up winning the biggest prize in European club football. A defeat could mean another low-point for an era that has so far promised much but yielded nothing.

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