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Thursday 8 December 2016

Klopp in total control of Liverpool's destiny

Liverpool manager gestures during the Premier League draw with Southampton last Saturday
Liverpool manager gestures during the Premier League draw with Southampton last Saturday

Jurgen Klopp has arrived at a point where if he wanted to this January, he could ask for any amount of money he needs to buy a player. I mean big money.

To be honest, I would be surprised if that happened, either in the coming window or any other.

He has a plan which he is implementing and I'm not sure Galacticos are part of it.

But I'm convinced that he has won the trust of everyone at Anfield to such an extent that he now has the level of autonomy that Alex Ferguson enjoyed at Old Trafford for so long.

I didn't believe that we would ever again see a manager with that level of control in the Premier League.

How has he done this? Well a 0-0 result on a miserable day in Southampton might not seem like an obvious source for an explanation, particularly when Liverpool should have won the game.

Problems

The aspect of the game which interested me most of all was the zero in the Liverpool goals against column.

A while back, I had to hedge when I was asked whether Liverpool could win the title because I still saw evidence of brittleness at the back.

What impressed me about Klopp at the time was that he acknowledged that there was a problem and said he knew what to do to fix it.

Many managers try to tell us black is white and it was good to hear someone stray from that cliché.

Fixing problems is his job and while I can't say he has eliminated all the defensive frailties which made Liverpool an uncomfortable bet to win the Premier League, that 0-0 at St Mary's told me he is making progress.

After the game, when he and the players wanted to shrug off the fact that they more than enough chances to win the game but didn't and talked instead about positives from a scoreless draw, I agreed with them.

They had earned the right to see the result as two points that got away and I can remember moments like this in recent seasons when there were no positives and Southampton would probably have won.

Adam Lalana and Dejan Lovren are two very good examples of the Klopp impact in Anfield.

They were signed by Brendan Rodgers and let's be honest, seemed like a waste of money until Klopp got hold of them.

Now Lallana is the go-to man for Liverpool and people say that when he's not playing, the team is not as energetic, not as sharp.

That's a remarkable turnaround from a year ago when I openly wondered whether Lalana had the stamina or the ability to influence games.

Klopp has moulded Lallana into an all-action catalyst for the rest of the players and that's a serious job of man management.

The 0-0 against Southampton was achieved with some ease and the big test for Klopp and his players now is the fact that they will meet more and more teams that will pull ten behind the ball as the season goes on.

Rodgers' run at the title began in earnest more than half way through the season but other managers have been watching Klopp's team dismantle opposition defences for fun since August and they are cutting their cloth to match.

Everything will become tougher and that's why I'm more than pleased to see Lovren playing so well beside Joel Matip, another big success story.

I was working for Liverpool TV with Roy Evans and at one point, he mentioned that Matip looked "Hansenesque". That's a big thing and it wasn't said lightly.

Again, it's a sign that Klopp is getting the best out of his players. Certainly it can't be a bad thing that we find ourselves making favourable comparisons with some of the greatest players the club has ever seen.

This is all part of Klopp's mission to reconnect people with the past but in a positive way.

I hear that he wants to move all operations to Kirkby which would allow the club to sell Melwood.

That will be music to the ears of the accountants but the reason he wants to do it is to bring everyone together under the same roof - from the Academy up to the senior squad.

This is old school Liverpool and it worked then so why not now?

It also tells me that Klopp is embedded more than any other recent manager of the club - with the obvious exception of Kenny Dalglish - and has won everyone's trust.

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