Jurgen Klopp so far: Assessing his impact as Liverpool manager


Jurgen Klopp is an infectious personality. In December, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson told Sky Sports that the new boss was having "a real positive impact" and insisted the team would "just keep getting better and better" under the German. Henderson's predecessor, Steven Gerrard, claimed he felt taller just by having a coffee with Klopp.

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And yet, while the former Borussia Dortmund coach has already enjoyed several memorable moments in England, Liverpool's season continues to stutter along. Tenth when Klopp took the reins, he has only been able to get them up to ninth. Two late Sunderland goals at Anfield on Saturday saw another two points dropped as they were overtaken by Everton.

Klopp missed that fixture with appendicitis - just the latest problem in a winter that's been full of them. A plethora of injuries in attack and defence have hampered progress, while Liverpool's involvement in three separate cup competitions has left Klopp with little time to focus on long-term planning on the training ground.

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But with more than four months having passed since he pitched up on Merseyside to instant acclaim, Sunday's clash with Aston Villa will be Klopp's 30th in charge in all competitions. That's enough to provide a body of work that reveals the issues he has addressed and those that continue to cause problems. Let's examine the evidence...


There have been high points. A 3-1 win at Chelsea was impressive, while Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher described the 4-1 victory at Manchester City as one of the best he's seen by any team in the Premier League. But excitement at these triumphs must be tempered by a host of unconvincing displays that have exposed the team's ongoing frailties.

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Liverpool players celebrate their team's first goal
Image: Liverpool players celebrate their team's first goal in the 4-1 win at Manchester City

There were comprehensive defeats at Newcastle and Watford, while the team's home form has been an issue too. Klopp actually has a worse win percentage than predecessor Brendan Rodgers this season, with his Premier League win percentage of 35 per cent identical to that of Roy Hodgson - a man who lost the Liverpool job after 20 games. Klopp has had 17 at the helm.

Liverpool managers' Premier League win percentages

Manager PL win percentage
Roy Hodgson 35%
Kenny Dalglish 43%
Brendan Rodgers 52%
Jurgen Klopp 35%

Of course, the cup competitions have been a positive. While Klopp has appeared bemused by the relentless nature of the fixture list - and those FA Cup replays - he's kept Liverpool in all of these competitions. Later this month, he takes the team to Wembley for the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City.


The 6-1 win at Southampton in the team's Capital One Cup quarter-final at St Mary's showcased just how devastating a Klopp team can be going forwards. Liverpool fans haven't seen enough of it, but there have been hints at the sort of fluency not seen by the Reds since the heady days of the 2013/14 season.

Alberto Moreno, Daniel Sturridge and Liverpool are all smiles
Image: Liverpool were all smiles as they put six past Southampton in the club

After scoring only eight goals in eight Premier League games prior to his arrival, Liverpool scored 24 in 17 under Klopp - an impressive upturn, given that he has still not been able to rely on Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge. There are still doubts over summer signing Christian Benteke's long-term ability to adapt to life at Anfield.

Premier League chances created (since Klopp's arrival)

Chances created
Liverpool 236
Tottenham 220
Man City 208

Underlying data supports the view that Klopp has brought greater fluency. In fact, Liverpool have created more chances than any Premier League team since his arrival in October. The quality of those chances is an issue - not least due to Philippe Coutinho's penchant for optimistic long-range shooting - but it's something to work with.


Unfortunately, the problems at the other end have not gone away and Klopp appears as exacerbated as anyone by Liverpool's inability to prevent opponents finding the net. This is a team that has conceded more Premier League goals this season than any team outside the bottom six. Plenty of them have come on Klopp's watch too.

Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (L) watches against Bournemouth
Image: Simon Mignolet has been among those to blame for Liverpool's error-strewn displays

After beginning the campaign with three consecutive clean sheets, only four more have followed in 17 games under the new man and Liverpool are yet to keep a shut-out in 2016. That's particularly frustrating for Klopp, given that only Tottenham have faced fewer Premier League shots on target. Liverpool just aren't saving them.

Premier League 2015/16: Errors leading to shots

Liverpool 25
Arsenal 23
Aston Villa 22
Everton 22

There can be little sympathy while they remain the architects of their own problems. Only West Ham have conceded more goals as a result of individual errors and when it comes to shots as a result of mistakes, Liverpool are making more than anyone. Thirteen different players have been responsible too - only bottom-club Aston Villa have so many culprits.


While these errors have undermined progress, it's merely a continuation of long-standing problems within the squad. But despite these ongoing issues, Liverpool have changed in other ways. "We want to look different," said Klopp in his opening press conference. "That's what I expect." And he has succeeded in adding intensity to the team's work.

Premier League 2015/16: Liverpool's running

Distance per game Sprints per game
Under Rodgers 107.9km 474
Under Klopp 112.8km 557

That much was evident in the very first game in charge when Liverpool became the first team in 2015/16 to outrun Tottenham. Klopp's men made 614 high-intensity sprints at White Hart Lane, despite having only passed the 500 mark twice in eight games under Rodgers. They've since made 600 or more sprints on three further occasions this term.

Liverpool have made 578 tackles this season, more than any other team in the Premier League.

On average, Klopp's Liverpool make 83 more sprints per game than under Rodgers and are running almost five kilometres further as a team. It's symptomatic of the pressing game that Klopp demands. Similarly, only Leicester have come close to making as many tackles. While results are lagging, there are signs that Liverpool are looking much more like a Klopp team.


This feeling that Liverpool might be on an exciting path is just one of many differences between Klopp's team and Hodgson's version, even while the supporters wait for those win percentages to diverge. The underlying numbers offer encouragement that when the obvious issues are addressed - injuries, personnel and time - tangible improvement is likely.

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Furthermore, with the club still in three cup competitions, notably the Capital One Cup final, there is an opportunity for Klopp to deliver in his first season what Rodgers could not come up with in three full campaigns - a trophy. That would be something to sustain supporters over the summer and increase the belief that Klopp's impact will really be felt in 2016/17.

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