Friday 28 October 2016

Big Sam slams Klopp but leaves LVG alone

Sam Allardyce and Jurgen Klopp
Sam Allardyce and Jurgen Klopp

My old friend Sam Allardyce has been up to his old tricks again. He has a thing about foreign managers in the Premier League but only specific ones. It's Jurgen Klopp's turn.

Allardyce made an outrageous double-barrelled attack on Klopp in the last week which I tried to ignore, working on the principle that anything he has to say is almost certainly something I don't want to hear.

This time it was a lecture for Klopp about the pace of the game in England which I couldn't let pass and which the manager of the second-from-bottom club in the Premier League, without a medal of any real consequence to his name, was only too delighted to deliver.

All this talk about high tempo football and the pressure game is beyond irritating. The fundamental requirement of every player is to get the ball back when he doesn't have it and try to use it well when he does.

It is the essence of the game and should be drilled into every child who shows any talent at all with a football.

Every good team plays a pressing game and professional footballers, with nothing else to do all week but prepare in conditions and facilities that are better now than ever before, should be able to deal with such intensity. It's their job.


Allardyce was simply showing his own ignorance by suggesting that this 'pressure game' is unique to the Premier League. Perhaps he should take a look at a few Barcelona videos and he might learn something.

It strikes me that Allardyce is very picky about the foreign managers he chooses to have a go at.

I would love to know, for example, what Allardyce thinks about Louis van Gaal. But he picks his targets well and wouldn't annoy his pal Alex Ferguson.

Let's be honest, the Dutchman has been a sitting duck for about six months and there is no view of the job he has done so far with the money he has spent which is positive.

Remember, when Ferguson was active in management, Big Sam was his biggest supporter and cheerleader. I'm sure he was flattered by the friendship.

I'm also sure they still talk and still enjoy the company of a tight group within the League Managers Association, a clique which has always been vocal about encroachment by foreign managers onto their patch.

It's a natural enough thing to do when people try to defend what they believe is their territory but if Allardyce has any case to make, it's with the club owners and not the men they hire.

As I said, though, Allardyce is particular about the managers he chooses to lecture and works to his own agenda, one which counts Klopp on his black list but not Van Gaal.

Klopp takes Liverpool to Arsenal tonight knowing that a win would tighten everything up again at the top of the table and at the very least, keep Champions League football for next season firmly on the menu.

He has had a decent enough start to his time at Anfield and has been plagued by injuries, the subject which brought him to Allardyce's attention.

Allardyce presumed to lecture another manager on matters which were none of his business but what about van Gaal? Surely he deserves some of Big Sam's homespun wisdom.

He has had as many, if not more, injuries since he arrived at Old Trafford as Klopp has had at Anfield and in at least some of the examples, the German inherited his problems from Brendan Rodgers.

Manchester United have been turned into a parody of the all-action, high energy and at its best, hugely entertaining football team Ferguson ran so successfully and van Gaal is responsible for that.

But I haven't heard a peep out of Big Sam about Manchester United. No borderline racist suggestion that he was a 'soft Dutchman' who doesn't really know what he is doing and is getting key elements of his job very badly wrong.

Relatively speaking, Klopp is a roaring success. He hasn't spent a penny yet and is juggling his resources as best he can in the circumstances.

Perhaps there is something to the suggestion that he is getting some aspects of his preparation wrong in terms of training. I don't know because I'm not there every day and Allardyce doesn't have any exclusive insight either.

The important thing for Klopp and the measure of the man will be how he reacts and whether he can learn his lesson and progress.

I get the sense that he will and when he has brought in a half dozen players and changed the Liverpool squad to suit the game he wants to play, his team will be very competitive. I don't have any confidence that van Gaal can find a similar route and he carries all the characteristics of a man marking time.

Allardyce should feel a kinship with that I suppose. He hasn't made a great fist of the season so far himself.

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