Klopp’s tac­tics failed Liver­pool in last sea­son’s Europa League fi­nal, says Fer­gu­son

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY IAN HER­BERT

SIR ALEX FER­GU­SON has crit­i­cised Liver­pool’s all-out press­ing game, stat­ing in a new UEFA tech­ni­cal re­port that Jur­gen Klopp’s de­feat in last sea­son’s Europa League fi­nal came be­cause they had no en­ergy left by the sec­ond half.

Fer­gu­son, one of Uefa’s tech­ni­cal ex­perts in the re­port analysing the 2016/17 Cham­pi­ons League and Europa League com­pe­ti­tions, has of­fered rich praise of Klopp’s po­ten­tial to re­store Liver­pool since he ar­rived at the club last Oc­to­ber.

In the tech­ni­cal re­port, he praised Liver­pool for knock­ing Sevilla out of their stride in the first half of last sea­son’s fi­nal in Basel, which they lost 3-1.

But he said that they were in­ca­pable of sus­tain­ing their in­tense pres­sure.

“In the sec­ond half Liver­pool had no en­ergy, they could not get to the ball,” he said.

“The space in mid­field be­came big­ger. I never had a team who could press a ball all sea­son.”

Liver­pool led after 35 min­utes in Switzer­land, through Daniel Stur­ridge, but lost to sec­ond half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Coke.

Fer­gu­son’s other main ob­ser­va­tion in his dis­cus­sion of Euro­pean club tac­tics for UEFA is that Barcelona demon­strated the need to con­tin­u­ally evolve their foot­ball phi­los­o­phy and not stick with one sys­tem.

As man­ager of Manch­ester United, he of­ten spoke of how, once Barcelona start play­ing in the rhyth­mic, flu­ent foot­ball Pep Guardi­ola helped in­tro­duce, it can be akin to a lug­gage carousel.

They “get you on the carousel and can leave you dizzy,” he once said.

But de­spite Luis En­rique’s side suf­fer­ing a shock quar­ter­fi­nal de­feat to Atletico Madrid in last sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League, he was taken by their evo­lu­tion into a far more pen­e­tra­tive team.

“Where they had had a carousel of pos­ses­sion with no cen­tral striker they now have three ex­cel­lent front strik­ers and play far more pos­i­tively in terms of pen­e­tra­tion,” Fer­gu­son said.

“They’re still look­ing for a dif­fer­ent way of play­ing. I think that’s been the big change, for me, in the last two years.”

The Uefa re­port demon­strates that teams are pre­pared to ‘go long’ far more of­ten, aban­don­ing the al­most ex­clu­sive pur­suit of a short-pass­ing game which Guardi­ola’s Barcelona were known for.

Fer­gu­son felt that tac­tics played less of a role in Real Madrid’s win in the fi­nal against Atletico.

“As a game, it had its mo­ments,” he re­flected. “But it will be re­mem­bered for two teams driven by de­sire rather than tac­ti­cal ma­noeu­vring.”

The tech­ni­cal re­port ex­am­ines in de­tail the de­ci­sion man­agers face in whether en­gag­ing in the “high press” that Klopp’s Liver­pool has favoured or drop­ping deep.

One of the prob­lems it de­tects is the strug­gle to con­vert pos­ses­sion stolen by the high en­ergy press­ing into goal-scor­ing chances.

Fer­gu­son said a year ago that he could see a re­gal­vanised Liver­pool un­der Klopp over­tak­ing United.

“Even at New­cas­tle when they lost the sec­ond goal he goes over to Steve McClaren to con­grat­u­late him,” he ob­served of the team’s 2-0 de­feat in Septem­ber.

“That’s class. And the work he did at Dort­mund. He’s go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence at that club with his per­son­al­ity, drive and knowl­edge. Things are look­ing up there.

“I’m wor­ried about him be­cause the one thing United don’t want is Liver­pool to get above us.” – The In­de­pen­dent

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