J urgen Klopps feisty side “re coming out” at Anfield on Sunday, and while West Bromwich Albions physicality was an issue, so was the way his squad failed to deal with it
JA1/ 4rgen Klopp called it an explosion, and the surest thing to say about the first monumental combustion of his Liverpool career considering neither he nor Tony Pulis divulged the background details of Sundays outburst against West Bromwich Albion is that it will not be the last. It would be hypocritical to suggest we are appalled at the prospect of more.
Klopp surely traversed a line in goading the Albion bench following Divock Origis 96 th-minute equaliser for Liverpool. Performing a passable impression of a gorilla beating its chest, the German coach-and-four tackled Pulis and West Broms backroom team in a craze that transferred to the Anfield crowd for the remaining minutes and fuelled Liverpools push for an unlikely winner. Having expressed bemusement at a lack of notion among the Anfield crowd against Crystal Palace only five weeks previously, that in itself was a small victory in Klopps eyes and reason for acclaiming the Kop with his players after Sundays final whistle.
Naturally, Anfield revelled in their conductors performance while competitors ridiculed the reaction to a 2-2 draw at home to a mid-table squad. The stances may not have been so entrenched had the roles been reversed with Pulis in Klopps shoes. Its his dugout, said the Albion manager when asked if he was offended by Klopps festivities. Both managers refused to stoked the disagreement in their post-match press conferences.
Klopps behaviour has been presented as a clever or calculated attempt to get Liverpool fans onside again, according to partisan lines and overlooking the fact they were onside from day one when instinctive, emotional reactions have always been part of his appeal. If it helps promote belief and a refusal to accept defeat, as Liverpool depicted during in the final stages against Albion, then there is an added bonus from the managers perspective. Klopps animated character, along with his record and style of success, explains why Liverpool and the Premier League were so enthralled by his arrival a little over nine weeks ago. The only astonish that can genuinely be expressed about Sundays reaction is that it was a long time coming.
It is worth recalling Klopps quote to the German author and dramatist Moritz Rinke, given as part of an interview for Rinkes book Reading The Game during Klopps final season at Borussia Dortmund. The most important thing in football, said the manager, is not trophies or medals but the moment itself, the memory of being there at the game, that you were part of it. Thats what its all about! The experience!
Anfield on Sunday was an experience, and chiefly for the running feud between the respective managers rather than the Premier League fare on display.
This is not to excuse Klopps confrontation with his opposite number, even with animosity building between the Liverpool manager and Pulis long before Dejan Lovren was taken off with a knee injury inflicted by Craig Gardner. But it does explain the sight of Klopp joining hands with his Liverpool players and saluting the Kop for their support afterwards.
Klopp had little fear for the medias coverage of Sundays spat and lost amid the refusal to shake hands with Pulis and co, until followed on to the pitch and pulled into a grip by Albions assistant head coach-and-four Mark OConnor, was a more pressing issue for the Liverpool manager.
He touched upon it himself during the post-match fallout. It was not easy to create opportunities, he said. They merely play long balls and merely want set plays. Pulis is not the only Premier League administrator to operate that style and, rather than bemoan or belittle an opponents style, Klopp needs to construct a defense able to withstand it.
Once the heartbeat had settled on Sunday and that was done speedily in the case of the two administrators it was the failure of Liverpools defenders and goalkeeper to cope with Albions set pieces that cannot have been lost on Klopp. Along with Albions physicality and his differences of opinion with Pulis, it was Liverpools weaknesses that shaped their managers eruption.
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