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Jurgen Klopp explains Liverpool's transformation over the past two years

Jurgen Klopp explains Liverpool's transformation over the past two years
Klopp is on the verge of history in 2020. 

The German looks all set to become the first Liverpool manager to win the league since Kenny Dalglish almost 30 years ago.

Even pre-empting what would take a spectacular collapse, Klopp's place in the history books is secured having led his side to the Champions League, Super Cup, and most recently the Club World Cup.

It has taken a remarkable transformation of the team he took over in 2015, not just in terms of personnel, but in the way the Reds play.

Many point to his famous 'gegenpressing', but it is rare to hear the former Borussia Dortmund boss go into explicit detail about how he operates.

However, in an interview alongside Arsene Wenger which was filmed during the Club World Cup trip to Qatar, he has offered fresh insight into the secrets behind Liverpool's training and how he has transformed them over the past couple of years.

The full interview can be seen below:

Klopp's first task was to dispel some of the myths about the intensity with which Liverpool play.

"It's not a problem, they are all healthy young good footballers so not using your full potential I would see as a waste of talent, a waste of time," he explained.

"But it's not that intense. If you look at the stats, it looks maybe more intense than it is. There are teams that run much more than us.

"We are often sprinting around, we try to be dominant in both periods of the game - when we have the ball, we had to improve that in the last couple of years.

"When the other team has the ball, the idea is clear, we want to be uncomfortable. I like how my team is playing, not every minute but most of the time.

"It can be quite spectacular, a lot of challenges, a lot of accelerations, speed-ups, a lot of technique of course."

The league-leaders are almost unrecognisable not only from the team Klopp inherited, but even from the side that was being picked apart in the first half of the 2017/18 season. 

"The way the boys improved in the last three, four years is impressive, because we always adapted to the situation in the league," Klopp added.

"We had to become better, with organisation. When we were better, we had to use our dominance in a. better way, we had to work on possession. I think we made big steps in that. The boys adapted to the different level."

That is partly down to training, but also down to the acquisition of two key defenders - Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson.

"He [Van Dijk] played at Southampton before that he played at Celtic so people were not 100% sure how we would adapt," Klopp said.

"But all the original skills he had, he was fast, but he had to adapt to our way of playing. We had a higher last line than Southampton, for example.

"Andy Robertson came in, a sensational full-back, but nobody else wanted him because defending was not good. Now when you see him now, you can learn defending."

Neither of those players were aware they were joining a team who would subsequently go on to lose one league game in 18 months - particularly as winning the league wasn't even on Klopp's radar for a long time. 

"In the first year, we didn't try to become champions, we just tried to improve," he said.

"In the second year, we had no chance to think about being champions, we just had to improve and qualify for the Champions League.

"The last year and this year is pretty much the first year where we are in contention for that. Is there now pressure? No, that would be silly. Maybe people want to put pressure on us, but this generation of players is trying a second time."

It is that kind of thinking which has allowed the 52-year-old to forge a special bond with players and fans alike. 

"The way I see football fits really well to the way the Liverpool fans want to see football," Klopp said.

"It's a lot about passion. I'm very passionate about football, that's caused me a few problems in my life but it brought a couple of my teams on a different energy level. So that fits really well with Anfield and the Liverpool atmosphere."

Atmosphere is key, too, and especially when it comes to keeping players happy who are not being given regular minutes on the pitch. 

"They are not always happy but they are always with us and hopefully always feel part of the team," he reflected.

"Everybody knows that, you cannot go through a season with 11 players. The intense period starts in November. Before this, you don't need to rotate constantly or make changes in the team when you're in a good run.

"I want you self-confident, I want you self-aware, that's for a footballer really important that you express yourself on the pitch. Sometimes you have to be selfish, no problem, especially strikers, go for it, try to score.

"But the moment you misunderstand the situation, that you're more important than the team. As long are you're not Cristiano [Ronaldo] or [Lionel] Messi you have to defend. They're easy rules."

Four and a half years on from his arrival on Merseyside, the Klopp philosophy has already given results.

It looks increasingly likely that it will also bring the most coveted trophy of all back to Anfield.

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