In his weekly Liverpool blog, lifelong Reds fan Dave Tindall looks into Jurgen Klopp’s home record at Dortmund to see if there’s hope for brighter days at Anfield after the loss to Crystal Palace.
With hindsight, it came as no real surprise.
Bogey team + 5,000-mile round trip to Russia + iffy home record + excellent away side = recipe for defeat.
And so it came to pass as Crystal Palace won at Anfield for the second year running and beat us for the third straight game.
It was a familiar script for home fans (more of them later). Slow start by the Reds, go a goal down, huff and puff, get an equaliser, have most of the possession, create and waste chances, get hit at the end from a set-piece. Lose.
If Liverpool fans had temporarily forgotten about it in the heady whirl of early Jurgen Klopp excitement, there is a massive issue the German has to address. It’s a huge priority and will determine whether the Reds can grab a Champions League spot this season (the odds say it’ll be tight although Spurs nudged ahead in the betting for a top-four spot after Liverpool’s defeat to Palace).
Quite simply, Liverpool need to learn how to win at Anfield on a regular basis again.
I submitted myself to some mental torture the other day. Like re-reading old texts from a hot ex-girlfriend sent during the golden early days, I decided to watch a re-run of our nearly magical 2013/14 season on Sky+.
Wow, those were amazing times. Suarez and Sturridge running amok, teams being steamrollered in the first-half (4-0 up on Arsenal after 20 minutes, 3-0 in front against Everton after 35) and goals flying in from everywhere.
Look at the numbers and weep…
League games played at Anfield 19, Won 16, Drawn 1, Lost 2. Even if we won every home league game until the end of the season, we can’t beat that record now.
By contrast, in Brendan Rodgers’ first season, the home record read: P19, W9, D6, L4 while in his final full campaign (2014/15) it was a similar story: P19, W10, D5, L4.
This season, Rodgers left us with a record of P4, W2, D1, L1 at Anfield although if you take into account the dour cup games it becomes P6, W2, D3, L1. The wins, by the way, were 3-2 against rock-bottom Aston Villa and an offside winner in a 1-0 success against third-bottom Bournemouth.
As for Klopp at Anfield, it’s P2, W0, D1, L1 in the Premier League and P4, W1, D2, L1 overall. In other words, Klopp has changed nothing…so far.
Turning those into percentages and taking into account all league and cup games at Anfield over the last two seasons shows this:
2015/16: Won 33%, Drawn 55%, Lost 12%
2014/15: Won 44%, Drawn 37%, Lost 19%
Depressing isn’t it. The home fans don’t even get to see Liverpool win half their matches these days. No wonder they head home early!
Early leavers frustrate Klopp
Which, of course, brings us onto the other big talking point in the last week. Was Klopp right to call out the home supporters for departing well before full-time with the side 2-1 down to Crystal Palace?
“With 12 minutes to go, I saw many people leaving the stadium,” said Klopp. “I turn around and saw them go. I felt pretty alone at this moment.”
When pressed further, Klopp continued, “We are responsible, we have to make sure that nobody can leave the stadium a minute before the last whistle, because anything can happen. That’s what we have to show. Today, we didn’t.”
He’s right… to some extent at least. There’s simply no way every Liverpool fan will stay until the very end but the team have to at least give them reason to stick it out. Either by actually holding the lead late on so there’s a greater desire for supporters to stay on and applaud the win or by threatening to nick a late winner or retrieve a losing situation.
Had Rodgers sent this little dig to the fans, it would have gone down like a lead balloon. But Klopp has so much goodwill that he can afford to say it and, do you know what, I’m glad he did. Even if 50 more potential leavers stay on, it’s had an effect and, as well, the diehards who would never leave early may now shout more to prove their loyalty. The extra atmosphere helps the team, there’s an increased likelihood of late goals and a chain reaction has been started. Good work Jurgen!
Bar re-signing Suarez and waving a magic fitness wand over Sturridge, the home form can’t just return to those glory days of 2013/14.
And one other point raised this week is whether Klopp’s famed ‘gegenpressing’ is actually more suited to away games. It’s very early days, but it seems that way so far on the evidence of the impressive road wins at Chelsea and Rubin Kazan.
So, the obvious next question if we want a window to the future at Anfield is how did Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund fare at home?
Here’s his record in the seven seasons he enjoyed at the Westfalenstadion:
So, only in Klopp’s first season did Dortmund fail to win over half their home games in the Bundesliga. That said, not losing a single match was mightily impressive, although the glut of home draws in that campaign is something Liverpool fans can relate to. The good news is that it got better and better after that.
Klopp increased the number of home wins by two each season until peaking with 14 out of 17 in 2011/12. That resulted in a second straight Bundesliga title after the first had been achieved with 12. In season three, Dortmund conceded just eight goals at home so he got the defence sorted whilst still managing to score over two goals per game (35 in 17).
In short, if Klopp can get the right men on the pitch to carry out his masterplan, Liverpool are capable of winning lots of home games. It’s just that it might take a season or two before it clicks in.
The Liverpool boss may be more associated with heavy metal than Northern Soul but to use the latter movement’s catchphrase… Keep the faith.
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