What would be a more fitting start to Jurgen Klopp’s tenure as Liverpool manager than a goal-less draw?
Liverpool’s 0-0 result with Tottenham on Saturday at White Hart Lane started the Klopp era on soundly realistic footing. Wiping away all the usual pregame buildup to a Premier League meeting between the teams and ignoring the extra euphoria surrounding Klopp’s arrival leaves one with a true starting point in the form of a blank scoreboard, err, slate.
Neither the result nor Liverpool’s performance were cause for celebration. However, we might have viewed a similar outcome under Klopp’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers with greater concern, as it would have signaled “more of the same” versus serving as a teaser of coming improvement.
Klopp’s Liverpool neither out-possessed nor pushed Tottenham around the field, but it did out-run the Premier League’s hardest-running team on its own turf. Liverpool also defended without fear while maintaining both focus and trust. If the Reds sustain their increased energy and commitment levels to match their new boss’ in the coming weeks, we will have borne witness to the first tangible reasons for Klopp era encouragement.
Injuries depleted Liverpool ahead of the trip to Tottenham. Danny Ings and Joe Gomez this week suffered knee injuries, which likely are season-ending for both. A knock around one of Daniel Sturridge’s knees sidelined him at the moment Liverpool hoped his ailments were a thing of the past. Dejan Lovren, Jon Flanagan, Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke also missed out due to their own short- and long-term injury problems. Altogether, Klopp was missing no fewer than four (and more depending on the outcome of the debate over the injured players’ respective statuses) of his best 11.
Yet, Liverpool still held an ever-improving Tottenham to a stalemate, and failing to score against the Premier League’s best defense with a fourth-choice striker in Divock Origi is no indictment of Klopp’s Reds. Origi headed the ball against the crossbar after 10 minutes in Liverpool’s best scoring chance.
With a little luck, “more of the same” would look a lot different. Imagine how this, and coming, games would have played out if Klopp had the injured cavalry at his disposal.
Liverpool’s schedule is packed for Klopp’s first weeks in charge. The Reds return to action Thursday against Rubin Kazan in the UEFA Europa League. That contest is one of five games Liverpool will play between the draw against Tottenham and the next international break, which begins in just 22 days.
Believe Klopp when he says he’s no miracle worker. He’ll require time and patience to improve Liverpool. But he placed the first building blocks of the new foundation in just three days of work with the full group. It’s okay to smile now.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@premierleague
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