Kevin Keegan: Klopp leading a Liverpool revival

Liverpool legend Kevin Keegan believes Jurgen Klopp is the perfect man to lead the club’s revival. The former Anfield striker has been impressed with his old club’s resurgence under former Borussia Dortmund manager Klopp – typified by Liverpool’s resounding 4-1 victory over Manchester City on Saturday. Former England manager Keegan recognises the Reds are still a work in progress under the 48-year-old Klopp but has seen enough to suggest the good times could be on their way back to Anfield.

Keegan welcomed the first ever FIFA World Cup in the Middle East, claiming it could give England the chance to win their first World Cup since 1966.   -  REUTERS

Liverpool legend Kevin Keegan believes Jurgen Klopp is the perfect man to lead the club’s revival. The former Anfield striker has been impressed with his old club’s resurgence under former Borussia Dortmund manager Klopp – typified by Liverpool’s resounding 4-1 victory over Manchester City on Saturday. Former England manager Keegan recognises the Reds are still a work in progress under 48-year-old Klopp who took over from Brendan Rodgers last month but has seen enough to suggest the good times could be on their way back to Anfield.

Speaking to www.sc.qa, Keegan said: “Klopp is a perfect fit at Liverpool. He has the character which Liverpool fans across the world relate to. You see a goal being scored and him going ‘Yes’ and celebrating with the players. He is a real players’ manager, he’s with them in good and bad times.” Speaking during a visit to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy – the organisation tasked with delivering the infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar – Keegan attributed Liverpool’s new-found vibrance to the nature of Klopp’s personality.

He added: “Klopp’s personality has contributed to Liverpool looking more energetic now, as can be seen from the win at the Etihad Stadium, where they took City apart. The win gives Liverpool supporters inspiration, and gets the dream going again. That performance set me thinking whether the club is starting to play the sort of football their fans across the world want them to play. With his predecessor Brendan Rodgers that was not always the case. Liverpool weren’t exciting enough, especially at Anfield where fans expect their team to go after visiting teams.”

Keegan, who coached Newcastle to a Premier League second place in 1995-96, also said Klopp’s early stamp on Liverpool has extended to other spheres as well. “The training culture prevalent in Germany is another reason why Liverpool look more energetic since Klopp took over,” said Keegan, who won the European Cup in 1977 in his last game for Liverpool before moving to Hamburg SV with whom he won the Bundesliga in 1978-79 in the process winning the Ballon D’Or. “When I played for Hamburg I learnt from the training. You need to be fit, strong and disciplined. That is the German way and Klopp will bring this attribute to Anfield. Before he took over, Liverpool needed to be a bit more energetic, strong and certainly more disciplined. You can’t just go out to play not knowing clearly what your role is going to be in the team. Klopp has installed these qualities very quickly and we saw the benefits against Chelsea and Manchester City. It is onwards and upwards now. I am hoping they’ll be able to sneak into the fourth spot this season so that they can grow from there next season.”

However, Keegan emphasised that the path of regaining lost glories of the 1970s and 1980s is a long one, and Klopp’s immediate priority in this process could be to recruit players from Germany who would hit the ground running in the Premier League. He stressed: “In the current squad, only Philippe Coutinho can find a spot in the great Liverpool sides of the 1970s and 80s. Gerrard would have got in but he is gone now. There are not very many in this side who would have got into those great sides. Maybe Sturridge could if he keeps himself fit. I would be interested to see what Klopp does in the transfer windows in January and June. He is likely to look to Germany to recruit two or three players who can hit the ground running in the Premier League.”

Keegan said that Klopp is the best mentor for Gerrard should the 2005 UEFA Champions League winning captain, who made his debut in July for Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy, consider a future role as Liverpool manager. He said: “I thought the way Gerrard left Anfield could have been managed better. But I am sure the club will come back to him. If he wants to he will get the chance to manage or be a big part of Liverpool’s future. The nice way would be for him to finish in America next year when he is 36 and then come back.

“He needs to work with Klopp and study from a very experienced manager who knows his way around the streets of football. A bit like Ryan Giggs at Manchester United now. Klopp can manage this process well. He wouldn’t see Gerrard as a threat, which maybe Brendan did.”

As part of a tour that outlined Qatar’s preparations for 2022 Keegan welcomed the first ever FIFA World Cup in the Middle East, claiming it gave England the chance to do something he couldn’t achieve as a player or manager – win their first World Cup since 1966. “It could well be an advantage for England to play the 2022 World Cup in mid-season,” said Keagan, who scored 21 goals in 63 international caps.

“That would work in England’s favour as the players will be fit and fresh when they come to Qatar. For once, because of the timing of the tournament, England and a couple of other European sides will have an advantage over the South Americans which we never had previously.

“Having travelled to Qatar for the last three or four years during November and December, I now know that the climate will not be an excuse for England to do badly. It would be perfect not just for England but for all the teams. England should make sure that their national team has the best chance to be able to come to Qatar in 2022 and have a good do at winning the World Cup for the first time since 1966. It is a big task but it is possible.”

Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

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