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Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool FC: Major rebuild or minor adjustments needed at Anfield?

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For all the speculation and suspicion surrounding just who would shine and struggle under his management, Jurgen Klopp was adamant in his squad appraisal: They are all Liverpool players.

It is some statement. So much had been said of the club’s lack of identity under Brendan Rodgers, a problem which supposedly stemmed from the sort of players recruited by the club. No leaders, no Liverpool.

Klopp has refuted that, saying: Decisions that were made in the past were not as bad as maybe some people think. It is not a coincidence they are here.

When I saw the squad “ when on my holiday “ I thought good job, I can work with this.

Yes, we have some injuries but players will come back. It’s a good squad. It’s even good for those players who can’t play in this moment to see how we work.

The game against Rubin Kazan appeared to strengthen his belief. A freezing night on a terrible pitch, in front of a raucous Russian support. To win 1-0, and do so convincingly, is something Liverpool have done in the past.

It takes character – the word Brendan Rodgers was lambasted for overusing, but the one thing Klopp now searches for in his squad. It also takes a fair bit of skill – something which Jordon Ibe, amongst others, exhibited throughout the 90 minutes.

After just six games, perhaps he is not wrong to have such faith in the players handed to him. There will be setbacks, of course  how his team deal with Crystal Palace on Sunday, 72 hours after Rubin, will be interesting but his belief in his side has been reflected so far.

Is there a rebuilding job ahead for Klopp? Or just a few minor adjustments? Though he is unbeaten in his first six games, and Liverpool have been impressive in part, there are still improvements to be made.

Here, position-by-position, is what he has at his disposal – and what he might need to rebuild.

GOALKEEPER

What he has: Simon Mignolet has looked strong enough under the German, and hasn’t made any glaring errors. With less emphasis on his kicking, he is looking a bit more confident. Adam Bogdan has also impressed as no.2, and made some crucial saves against Bournemouth.

Rebuild needed? No, not necessarily. Klopp hailed Mignolet in his opening press conference and he seems to have the confidence of the manager for now. Some will see it as a position to ‘upgrade’, but a complete overhaul seems unfair.

FULL BACK

What he has: Not a lot in terms of numbers, really. Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne have been good under Klopp and look to be first-choice. With Jon Flanagan and Joe Gomez out injured – though Gomez would be more of a centre back under this regime – Connor Randall was given a chance in the cup. He, too, is now injured. Andre Wisdom, meanwhile, is on loan at Norwich.

Rebuild needed? They need returns to fitness, or they need numbers. They have two young full backs in the first team, with a number potentially in reserve – but a few more options would be welcome to help throughout the season.

CENTRE BACK

What he has: Mamadou Sakho has emerged as a real leader in the opening sextet of games, with Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren alternating as his partner, though the Slovakian is preferred in the bigger games at the moment. Kolo Toure is injured once more, while young options Gomez and Wisdom are missing for the rest of the season.

Rebuild needed? With Sakho in this form, not at all. Toure won’t be at Anfield much longer, while Skrtel is a relative veteran in the side, and his position could come under threat. What Lovren could be under Klopp is anyone’s guess. Gomez would provide a real hope for the future, however, but there could be a reshuffle at least.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD

What he has: Lucas has been the stand-out for the Reds under Klopp, defying expectations of a struggle under the German’s high-tempo style of play. Emre Can is a curious member of the midfield, inspired and infuriating in equal measure at times; Joe Allen, meanwhile, will be pleased he finally put a good performance in under Klopp after a top showing against Rubin Kazan.

James Milner’s position is still to be determined, but he has failed to capture the imagination so far – perhaps he misses Jordan Henderson alongside him, with the captain due back from a heel injury soon. Cameron Brannagan, Pedro Chirivella and Jordan Rossiter could also feature.

Rebuild needed? Not in terms of personnel, but perhaps style. The return of Henderson will be big for Klopp, as he would appear the perfect midfielder in his set-up: he can run, score and assist. The German demands that from all his midfielders, including the deepest of the three. Can is trying, but is still young and learning.

WINGER

What he has: Not much in terms of out-and-out wingers. Milner plays a hybrid of central midfield and right wing, while Jordon Ibe has impressed so far. Lazar Markovic is out on loan at Fenerbahce and cannot be recalled; less senior than the Serbian are the likes of Sheyi Ojo, Ryan Kent and Harry Wilson.

Rebuild needed? Yes. Though Klopp does traditionally only like to play with one man out on the touchline – with someone cutting inside on the opposite flank – the Reds look very light out wide. Ibe produced a great display in Russia, while Milner has look good in patches, especially with his deliveries. But more diversity is needed.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD

What he has: The two Brazilians, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, combined well at Chelsea and could form a great partnership in the centre of the pitch. Adam Lallana, like Firmino, has improved under Klopp. Joao Carlos Teixeira is also on the fringes of the first-team, and played against Bournemouth.

Rebuild needed? Not necessarily, given Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana have all – in flashes – shown real ability in a Klopp system. Teixeira needs more time to shine, too. But though a rebuild isn’t needed, a tweaking is – more goals must come from this position, for starters.

STRIKER

What he has: Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge are his two main options, although Sturridge is yet to feature under the German due to injury. Danny Ings will miss the majority of the season after tearing his ACL; Divock Origi has endeavoured but toiled up top in the opening month. Firmino is also an option, and was used there against Chelsea.

Rebuild needed? Only of Sturridge’s lower body, perhaps. Goalscoring is still proving a little bit of a problem for the Reds under Klopp, but he will have four strikers at his disposal, three of whom are 24 or younger. There wouldn’t be an immediate reshape, but the German will have to see how – and when – his stricken strikers return.

Is Klopp facing a major rebuild at Anfield?

 

Source: liverpoolecho.co.uk

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