Build from the front? Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp are repeating an old trick

Klopp has five quality attacking options at his disposal

The creativity of that group has been exacerbated by circumstances. Klopp opted to bring in constructive midfielders this summer, in Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, before his two preferred destructive options, the defensive duo of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, made abrupt exits to Saudi Arabia. The profile of a section of the side has changed, the emphasis shifted more to the attack.

All of which may make goals likelier to go in at both ends. There has been less protection than in the heyday of Klopp’s greatest side, the two seasons from 2018-20, but if the four pillars of that rearguard remain, Alisson, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have only played together for 289 minutes in the Premier League; now, with the left-back set to have shoulder surgery, they will not be reunited until 2024.

Thus far, Liverpool have shown solidity when they have lost players and shifted tactics, from front-foot football to sitting deeper and counter-attacking. Liverpool defended well with 10 men at Newcastle, brilliantly with nine at Tottenham. They have been more open with a full complement of players.

Klopp and Liverpool face Everton at Anfield this Saturday lunchtime

But Klopp’s reference to organisation was significant, too. His frequent mentions of being “compact” underline the importance of a positional understanding and ensuring no one is exposed. He is searching for a consistency that comes with cohesion, for a 90-minute performance. “To learn to control the game, things that happen with time, there is no short cut to that,” he reflected. “So with the signs we showed so far I am absolutely fine but I know the final destination, I can’t even see yet but that is not a problem.”

Perhaps it was another callback to 2016, to the sense that something was rising, even if it was not fully clear how high it would reach. Klopp detects similar signs elsewhere. “You saw so many teams growing here in the direction we wanted and all became usually better step by step… or the manager had to go,” he said, the last part an aside.

The next step of the rebuilding is likely to come towards the back of the side. The early expectation is that a defensive midfielder and another centre-back will be targets next summer. But for now, with his forwards and his attacking midfielders in place and in the goals, Klopp has begun his rebuilding job at the top of his team.

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