Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool have become more unpredictable since the sale of Philippe Coutinho as players have “stepped up” and taken responsibility for breaking down opponents.
Liverpool have been in superb form in recent weeks with the front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané maintaining their prolific output despite the departure of the team’s most creative talent to Barcelona for a fee rising to £142m. Klopp admits he was unsure how the team would react without Coutinho but is delighted with the evidence so far, claiming there is no longer an over-reliance on one player.
The Liverpool manager said: “Phil Coutinho was a very dominant player in our game and when we were not at our best it was always a good idea to give him the ball – maybe he has an idea. But it was always clear when Phil didn’t play we had to do the job differently, to put responsibility on different shoulders and spread it between the players.
“You can never be sure it will work but now it is a few weeks ago and I am really happy with the reaction of the boys, they stepped up. Of course we were fighting for Phil, we wanted to keep him here and in the end he decided differently. I am happy it has worked so far pretty well but it feels like it is already a few months ago. I am happy it has worked quite well but I am only interested in how it will work tomorrow and not in the last few weeks.”
Klopp insists there will be days when Liverpool miss Coutinho’s undoubted influence but believes his exit has encouraged a more collective mentality in games. “If you see Barcelona playing in a specific moment they give the ball to Messi – that is a good idea and I would do the same,” said the Liverpool manager, who hosts Newcastle United on Saturday.
“That is what we did to Phil and now we do it with other players. We work for each other, they didn’t change attitude they were smart enough to use Phil in a specific moment and now they use each other in a specific moment. There was one example of a bad game from us when we gave all the responsibility to Phil and it was Tottenham away.
“We cannot do that any more, it makes us a little bit more unpredictable with us on the pitch. Now we play with whoever plays and they are really good and sometimes it makes sense to pass the ball from one to the other and create a gap, run into the gap and use the chance. On a good day it makes you more unpredictable if you don’t have this dominant player but on another day you miss a player like that.”
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