Sunday, November 22, 2015


Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool and the importance of ‘gegenpressing’ (Jonathan Wilson, 16 October 2015, The Guardian)

Who is the best playmaker in the world? While others squabble over individual players, Jürgen Klopp has no doubt. Nothing, he believes, creates more chances than gegenpressing.

It is his faith in that style and his ability to instil its principles in his players that allowed Borussia Dortmund to compete with far wealthier clubs. The system was able to negate the fact Bayern Munich were able to afford better individuals. The hope at Liverpool is he can have a similar impact in the Premier League. [...]

“The best moment to win the ball is immediately after your team just lost it,” Klopp has said. “The opponent is still looking for orientation where to pass the ball. He will have taken his eyes off the game to make his tackle or interception and he will have expended energy. Both make him vulnerable.”

In itself, perhaps that is not a particularly revelatory insight; where Klopp – and Pep Guardiola, who was also a pioneer of gegenpressing – were innovative was in how they took advantage of that realisation, pushing high up the pitch and co-ordinating how the hunt for the ball was conducted.

Most importantly, the team have to be compact. If there are spaces when a team presses, then it’s relatively easy for the opponent to thread passes through the gaps. That applies both vertically and laterally – Arrigo Sacchi, who pioneered pressing at Milan in the 1980s, spoke of an ideal of 25m from the most advanced player to the back four, while there is also a requirement for, say, the right-winger to move centrally when the ball is on the left. At Bayern, Guardiola has one of the training pitches divided into zones to help players work on their spacing. At Barça he operated a principle of “one and three”: when the ball is lost, one man goes straight to the ball and three race to the scene to try to cut out passing angles.

A team also have to understand when to stop pressing: the ball cannot be hunted relentlessly, partly because to do so is exhausting and partly because once that initial moment, when the opponent has gained possession has passed, it is not that difficult to hit a long ball into space behind the pressing defence (which is one of the reasons goalkeepers such as Víctor Valdés and Manuel Neuer, who can sweep behind their defence, are so valuable).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard misjudged MLS, says Landon Donovan (Jamie Jackson, 18 November 2015, The Guardian)

Donovan, a former United States captain who played for Galaxy, Bayern Munich and Everton, said of Gerrard and Lampard: “They have been perceived well but it’s not easy. Sometimes people have this impression that you can go there and it will be easy – people from the outside. The players will tell you ––and I think Steven has spoken about it openly – it’s quite difficult. Not because there is more quality from Liverpool but it’s difficult to travel and the pace of the game is fast.”

Donovan, who retired in December 2014, added: “The Premier League is probably the fastest in the world but the pace [in the US] is faster than you realise. There are a lot of different issues so I think both of them will come back next year and be more prepared and make a much bigger impact.”

Saturday, March 21, 2015


How Liverpool FC 'reprogrammed' Jerome Sinclair ahead of first-team chance : Revealed: the intricacies of preparing a striker for a shot at the big time (James Pearce, 3/20/15, Liverpool Echo)

[F]or analysis purposes the penalty box is divided into five zones. The central area in front of goal is zone 1.

A line is then drawn from each post to the far corner of the box – creating 2R and 3R on the right as well as 2L and 3L on the left. Zone 2 is closer to the centre with zone 3 being where the angle for strikers is much more acute.

Jerome Sinclair and the areas goals are scored from

For a right-footer, the easier zone to score in should be 2R but prior to Christmas, Sinclair hadn’t scored once from that area. Reds staff were concerned that the kind of goals he had scored through the age groups simply aren’t netted at the highest level.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Mario Balotelli agent says striker has never been asked to run before (The Telegraph, 3/07/15)

[H]is agent, Mino Raiola, has offered an insight into why his client has struggled by saying that the player has never before been asked to work as much as he is on Merseyside.

He is quoted in The Mirror as saying: "Mario has found a coach who asks him things that had never been requested of him, including the fact of running without the ball.

"Right now I think Mario makes a very interesting development for his career.

"This allows him to grow as a person and as a footballer. He will come out even stronger. He is proud of the Liverpool team and that is most important."

Monday, March 2, 2015


Stunning Jordan Henderson captaincy stat! Great news for Liverpool fans (talkSPORT, March 2, 2015)

So far this season, Henderson has started a match as captain 12 times and his record over the course of those matches is pretty close to flawless – won nine and drawn three – with Liverpool yet to suffer defeat under his stewardship.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Javier Mascherano – the last great Argentine hero (Juan D'Angelo, 2/22/15, Backpage Football)

Silent hero, a born leader, the mood engine of the team. These are just a few adjectives that the press has been used to qualify Javier throughout his career.

Surely Marcelo Bielsa saw what Almeyda did at the time, because in June 2003, and before Mascherano had even played a single game as a professional for his club River Plate, the “Jefecito” debuted internationally for Argentina in a friendly against his Uruguayan counterparts.

From that moment, Javier built a career worthy of a legend. From his first steps in River Plate up to these days in Barcelona, where he is a fundamental part of one of the best teams in history, “Masche” turned into a leader and a reference for his teammates.

One of its early discoverers, the Argentine coach Jorge Solari, said that,when he saw Javier in action during a match played in the small town of San Lorenzo (the hometown of a Mascherano) he was surprised by the commanding voice of that young boy.

The leadership shown by Mascherano is not based on intimidation and fear, as it was with Vinnie Jones and the “Crazy Gang” of Wimbledon. The Argentine midfielder is the example of everything good that should be a professional football player.

Javier gives everything in every workout, play every game like a final, is correct to the press without being condescending and, most importantly, knows when he should be a leading player and when it should remain in the background. the defensive midfielder who's so aggressive he's always one second away from a red card.  If Arsenal had such a player they'd have won some titles the past few years.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Jordon Ibe illuminates stalemate in Steven Gerrard’s final derby day (Andy Hunter, 2/09/15, The Guardian)

The 19-year-old signed from Wycombe Wanderers excelled on his surprise derby debut, only his second league start for Liverpool, carrying the threat to Everton throughout, striking a post with a venomous drive from 20 yards and almost capitalising on Sterling’s deflected shot across the goalmouth.

For 26 minutes Liverpool’s forward line contained Ibe, Sterling and the returning Daniel Sturridge. It’s a prospect that should alert Roy Hodgson and it reflects Rodgers’ inherent belief that British-born talent is not technically inferior to its continental counterparts. “Maybe I have too much belief in young players,” he admitted. “But part of me thinks you never know until you throw in a young player and it doesn’t matter what the game is. This is a real springboard for Jordon Ibe. I would have no qualms about playing Jordon now and there is no greater pressure than a Goodison game with that intensity and he was obviously man of the match. [...]

Liverpool’s clean sheet was the first time they have kept four in a row in the league under Rodgers and featured another commanding performance from Emre Can.