Article by Paul Tomkins @
I like James Milner. There, I said it. I like Jordan Henderson too. They’re not two of my favourite players (although I do have a definite soft spot for Henderson), and you wouldn’t “pay to watch” either, assuming that people still pay to watch an individual (which, presumably, is only something the neutral does these days. You pay to watch your team, regardless, and few people go to see an individual – although you might if Lionel Messi was in town).
I liked Lucas Leiva too, in part because so many people were unfair to him, and because he stuck at it, and improved. He wasn’t the best player (although had become an excellent defensive midfielder under Kenny Dalglish – the Brazilian became the Reds’ player of the year – before a serious injury sapped him of a yard of pace), but he was the opposite of flaky. These guys aren’t the artists, nor the speedsters who have us off our seats. They don’t rain down goals and yet more goals. But you need some glue in your team, even if it drives some spectators to sniffing the stuff.
But if you would pay to watch certain players, you also need those who bolster that creativity; a few artistes to play the piano, the rest to carry it, as the old saying goes. Water carriers, you may call them, but some carry the water well (like Henderson) and others spill it.
Henderson, in particular, gets a ludicrous amount of grief from fans, including with England, mostly because he’s not someone else. With Liverpool you sense it’s because he’s not Steven Gerrard, and with England there’s the bitterness of rival fans wanting their players selected ahead of him. He’s the opposite of spectacular, but football isn’t all about the spectacular.
The Liverpool captain is a clever short-passer, who often moves the ball quickly and can spot a longer pass, too. But he can’t shoot very well, on average (his long-range shooting used to be better but he’s lost his confidence; and only ever tends to side-foot, like Raheem Sterling, although Sterling is usually two-yards out); and Hendo isn’t supremely quick. People criticise the square passes but I think that’s part of the mindset of keeping it ticking over. He has great stamina, and strength, and every Liverpool and England manager of the last few years has loved him. It’s no coincidence. Jürgen Klopp has worked with some great midfielders, yet clearly rates Henderson.
Hendo is another of those players – like Emre Can – who played through injury and got the bird from the fans as a result. We want bravery, but when we can’t see that bravery (as they don’t have blood gushing from a wound), we react with anger. Again, unless they are limping around for 90 minutes, no one can see the pain the players are playing through, and managers obviously don’t want to highlight those injuries too much in public, lest they invite reducers from the opposition.
(Of course, I also don’t blame players who refuse to put their bodies on the line, because you’d rather they say that they can’t run properly before the game than during it. And muscle injuries are often only made worse; they don’t heal themselves during the match. That said, you can see why managers like those who make themselves available to play, no matter what.)
There’s a lot that goes on at a football club that we cannot see. Indeed, we don’t see much at all. We don’t get proper insights into who has a good attitude during the week, who trains hard, who is early to Melwood and late to leave, who looks out for his teammates away from the pitch, who helps turn a group of players into a team. We don’t get to see who is a slacker, a dickhead, in training; who disrespects the collective by being late, or mucking around at a time when seriousness is called for. We don’t get to see who is more bothered about their pay-packet than working hard to improve. And we criticise a manager over his selections without knowing any of this.
Nor do we get to see tactical preparations, and therefore we don’t know who is following instructions and who is doing their own thing. We just get to see match-day. And we also get to see the in-form players at other clubs, on highlights clips and live broadcasts and YouTube showreels, and assume that we can solve all the problems by suggesting, on social media, which of them to buy.
We also get some media soundbites from players and managers, to show us a glimpse behind the curtain, but it’s mostly anodyne nonsense; platitudes and fluff. So we often don’t get a particularly good insight; and even if the manager is eloquent and wants to talk about interesting things, he’ll instead be asked about why his opposite number didn’t shake his hand, or why so-and-so has been made captain, and which of the 73 players the club have been linked with that week are genuine targets. Nonsense, platitudes, fluff.
On The Tomkins Times ( TTT tomkinstimes.com) lately I’ve been talking a lot about Raphael Honigstein’s wonderful book on Jürgen Klopp, “Bring The Noise”, and all the little details behind the manager’s success in Germany. While I already suspected a lot of its contents, it reassuringly confirms the manager’s attention to detail and his down-to-earth attitude. It’s clear how all the major players and ex-players in Germany respect him, and see him as a unique talent. It shows how he built Borussia Dortmund up, from having zero money to spend, into double Bundesliga champions and Champions League finalists. A book like that can go into great detail in a way that even a good television interview or newspaper article cannot. It taught me a lot, and anything that teaches me something is always worth the time and effort (and I like to spend time sharing anything I learn).
I’ve also been discussing books like Angela Duckworth’s “Grit” and Matthew Syed’s “Bounce”, which – amongst other aspects of success – build on the 10,000 hours rule covered by people like Malcolm Gladwell, as I continue to challenge my own long-held beliefs about natural talent. And books like those, which don’t even mention Klopp (but do cover sports), are helping me to understand just how the Liverpool manager has had so much success in his carer. Time, plus meaningful training, and an impeccable attitude, means improvement.
I was myself described as a “natural footballer” before I hit my teens, including a gold award at an ex-pro’s soccer school, but Super-8 footage of me kicking a ball around at the age of five shows I had no natural instincts whatsoever. But by the age of nine I was playing two years up for the school, in part as I started kicking about every night with kids of that age a couple of years earlier. Alas, I had little grit, and unlike now, was easily defeated by setbacks. And when I was the skinny little fancy-dan winger aged 13 up against kids built like boxers, in the 1980s minefield of bypassing the midfield (and on boggy pitches I barely had the strength to run across), I fell out of love with playing organised football. I had been a “natural”, apparently, but I didn’t work at it. Later on, once back in love with the game, I was scouted playing university football, but I still didn’t have the drive, still lacked sufficient grit. Whether or not my talent was ample enough, that talent didn’t get me anywhere. I had a stint as a semi-pro in the mid-’90s, but by then my Liverpool season ticket had come through, and that was my priority.
Aside from any physical gifts, which still have to be worked on, players become prodigies due to the work they put in at a younger age; and the earlier and harder they practice – and the more they are tested by good opposition and training that is not simply within their comfort zone – the quicker they will make the grade. Not everyone who puts in 10,000 hours of meaningful practice will make it to the top, but few who do go on to make it to the top will do so without it. (It might be 9,000 hours or 11,000 hours, or a combination of hours in two sports where there is some meaningful overlap, but the point stands. There is no overnight success.)
And yet when I hear managers saying that “this is where the hard work starts” after a youngster makes a promising debut, they are not wrong. Some players feel at that point that they’ve made it, and then they can ease off: goal achieved. But then they lose their advantage to players like James Milner, who can boast 750 career games, including several years at Man City and Liverpool, despite never being an artiste. The players who work hard, day after day, will tend to endure, injuries notwithstanding. They may be unhappy if they are not in the team, but they don’t stink out the place with a bad attitude. If they are subbed off they may scowl, but they don’t leave the stadium. If they are left out of the squad they work even harder, they don’t put in a transfer request.
Milner himself was a prodigy of sorts, playing 100-or-so of those aforementioned career games with England youth teams of all ages, albeit a fair few of them as an overaged U21. He was strong for his age as a teen, and scored a crazy number of goals for England age-groups at that time, and debuted in the Premier League aged just 16. But I don’t recall him being quick, or preternaturally gifted. You would never call him a “natural”, but I’d guess that only 1% of all Premier League, La Liga, Serie A or Bundesliga players make their debut at such a young age in the top division of a major league.
Indeed, in an article I wrote on TTT last month I went through the entire Liverpool squad, to assess their youth pedigree – who broke through into a senior team first, who got a lot of international youth caps – and to work out what the predicted paths for the players might have been. I had previously asked subscribers to the site to select the 10 players in the current squad they see as the most “natural” footballers at Liverpool (without – on purpose – defining what I meant by natural), and unsurprisingly Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané came out on top, with Virgil van Dijk not far behind. James Milner was near the bottom.
My point was in part about our perception of what a natural talent is.
If we see them as naturally gifted – and I think most people do – then why were Salah, Firmino and Mané such late-bloomers? They had little or no international youth experience, and were playing relative “backwater football” around the ages of 19/20, in Switzerland, and in the second-tiers of Brazil and France. They moved to unfashionable European clubs – sometimes to two unfashionable European clubs – and only Salah got a move to a big club in a major European league in his early 20s; and that – at Chelsea – famously failed.
Similarly, Virgil van Dijk had virtually no youth football with Holland (just one cap before U21 level, and just three at U21 level) and was not a teenage breakthrough star. Only Celtic took a chance on him after a few years in Holland, and only Southampton took a chance on his after that, and even allowing for the later development of centre-backs, it’s still taken a long time to reach the top. If all four are naturals, why weren’t they successful earlier in their careers? And why are they suddenly so successful now?
Surely the answer is in no small part due to extreme hard work, allied to elite coaching. They have overtaken players who would have been labelled far more gifted at a younger age; players who are now stacking shelves somewhere. Perhaps it’s also about feeling settled at a club, or suiting its system, and all those other hard-to-judge details.
But how do players improve – or appear to improve – so radically? Last summer, before I’d finally had enough of Twitter, I was ridiculed for saying that Mo Salah had a world-class scoring record for a wide forward. And that was before he began to re-write the rulebook this season. People struggled to grasp the concept of an erstwhile Premier League flop being world-class at something. But his goal return in Italy was outstanding. To get 19 goals in a season, from out wide, for a team that wasn’t walking the league, in a league like Serie A, had to be world-class (which I’d say, loosely, is the top 5-10 players in any position). Right now, Salah is probably no.1 in the world for the number of goals scored from from a nominally wide position. I was careful not to call him a world-class player in the summer, but actually, I now would.
Yet people get locked into their beliefs, inflexible to changes and improvements. It’s a bit like saying Salah isn’t a “natural goalscorer”, because he doesn’t play as a no.9, where the “natural” scorers play. People want to bracket him within their own biases, where he cannot escape their established conclusions.
Even though he’s not strictly a winger, why can’t wide players be natural goalscorers? And why can’t someone who seemed mediocre at 21 be outstanding at 25?
For starters, a lot of people assume that the talent is god-given, instinctive; “you can’t teach it,” ex-strikers will say. Except, you can. Clearly. Not to Sean Dundee, perhaps, but actually, with tons of meaningful practice (i.e. where your own limits are tested), anyone can improve at almost anything, if their physiology allows it.
Some phenomenal international youth strikers – such as Samed Yesil – have faded to relative obscurity, and the precocious Ryan Babel wasted most of his career; doing quite well lately, but aged 31, when time is almost up. Meanwhile, someone like Salah – who, at 20, would have been seen as far inferior to Babel at the same age – scores more and more goals every season. Babel moaned about Rafa Benítez asking him to track back, whereas Mo Salah just gets on with it.
The Egyptian scored some goals before joining Chelsea, in the Swiss league, but he wasn’t ultra-prolific; however, his second season in Switzerland was more prolific than his first. This was after three seasons in his native Egypt, where in each season he scored more than the last. And his three seasons in Italy – before Liverpool snapped him up – saw him move from 9 goals in 26 games (Fiorentina), to 15 in 42, to 19 in 41 with Roma. Are these not the hallmarks of improvement? Yeah, but he’s a Chelsea reject, right?
Firmino is another who is “not a natural centre-forward/finisher”, because when he arrived at Liverpool it was an attacking midfielder wanted by the committee but not by Brendan Rodgers (his choice was Christian Benteke, and the Reds ended up with both). Klopp replaced Rodgers, and Firmino became a false nine; and it would enrage pundits to see him dropping deep, or wandering out wide. “You’re a no.9, get in the box!” they would shout in commentary, as if there is only one way to play football. “Not a natural finisher” they would add, if he got in the box and missed a chance. “He’ll never be good enough as a centre-forward” was, I’m sure, uttered by Jamie Redknapp just a few months ago.
Then many pundits warmed to him, for his work-rate and skill, but there was still a lot of sniffiness. “He’ll never score enough goals”. Indeed, one ex-Liverpool striker was still saying – a few weeks ago, no less, – that Liverpool still need a “proper number nine”, which must be evidence of some kind of Tourette’s from heading the ball too much. Firmino hit the 20-goal mark before mid-February.
But how? He’s not a natural number nine. He’s not a natural finisher. He’s not a natural goalscorer. If he couldn’t score goals for Liverpool aged 24, how can he do so aged 26? How can his goal return improve year on year at Liverpool, if he’s not got the right “eye” or the right “instincts”? If it’s all about god-given talent, Firmino was deemed near the back of the queue aged 19 and 20, and even – when it came to goals – aged 24 with Liverpool.
Liverpool’s two main goalscorers this season already have 51 between them – including just two penalties – by mid-February, yet neither is a natural goalscorer in the eyes of ex-pros, nor were they naturals in terms of being teenage prodigies. (If they took better penalties they could have 54 goals between them.)
Well, could it just be that these things are not as defined as we like to believe?
I get annoyed when people use the saying “doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of madness” when it comes to football, because that refers to scientific experiments; combine the same amount of the same two chemical elements in the same way under laboratory conditions and you’ll get the same results. But football is not played under such conditions. What doesn’t work one day can work another. And vice versa.
Take, say, Steven Gerrard and the art of taking penalties. For years he was utterly mediocre at them, missing some and scoring some. Then he became shit-hot at them, with practice and experience. So, if a manager picks a team that loses a game, then another game, you can’t say that that team should never be picked again. For instance, I saw it said that Liverpool only won 7-0 in the group games because Jordan Henderson was missing. Yet the Reds won 5-0 against Porto with him present.
Providing that the team is young enough, it has the scope to improve, with understanding, and the individuals have the scope to improve, with experience, or just be in better form on another day. Very little is actually fixed at the same level.
This is the epitome of growth mindset vs fixed mindset, as outlined by the famous mindset psychologist Carol Dweck. People with a growth mindset believe they can improve and that nothing is fixed in terms of development, so they work hard and try to get better, and never stop working hard. Those with a fixed mindset think in more binary terms: that people are either good at something or not; they buy into the concept of god-given talent, the concept of the natural.
The trouble with a fixed mindset is that it stops you working harder – naturals don’t need to practice, after all – and such minded people are more likely to give up when some kind of obstacle is faced. After all, if they can’t quickly overcome the obstacle, they will conclude, they therefore lack the talent. Steven Gerrard would have given up taking penalties before anyone knew he could become one of the best at them in the past 25 years of English football. Before that, he would have given up shooting altogether, as he only scored one goal in his first 50 Liverpool games. A good passer, you might have concluded, but not a goalscorer.
All of this happened to tie in precisely with Raphael Honigstein’s book on Klopp, and the manager’s obsession with unity, team-work and improving the players he has at his disposal. He doesn’t ignore the transfer market – far from it – but he won’t use it as the only tool, in the way we, as fans (with no control over anything in a hands-on way), seem to act like transfers are the be-all and end-all.
And as someone who wrote the book (or at least, a book – Pay As You Play – and an academic paper) on the clear links between spending and success, I can also make clear that there will be outliers like Klopp’s Dortmund, who eschewed expectations, and there will be crazy spenders, who invest that money badly and suffer as a result (Manchester United in recent seasons have often been wasteful, and conflicted between buying good players and buying good marketing tools).
Liverpool cannot control what the Manchester clubs do, nor what those clubs spend, nor look to compete on the same level of outlay, given one is backed by an oil-rich country and the other has been miles ahead of Liverpool commercially for two decades, and tops the world’s rich-list. So, Liverpool need someone like Klopp, who will hang around for a long time, improving the players, uniting the dressing room, forging a distinct (but increasingly flexible) tactical style, and inspiring his charges.
A good 10-20 players have clearly improved since Klopp took charge of Liverpool in 2015, and some of them – like Kevin Stewart – were improved from a very low starting point, meaning that they were unlikely to be any better than ‘good’ players, but they could do a job for a few games and then bring in a few million quid. No one could have turned Vinnie Jones into Andrea Pirlo, after all. But under Klopp, “good” players are becoming seen as “great”. Very good players are getting better.
Mostly, the only ones to regress, injuries aside, are those with a slightly more lax attitude on the pitch and in training.
I decided years ago that I don’t want the manager to pick the players I want to see, but the ones he wants to do the job that he has set out, with instructions to which I am not privy, based on form and fitness and attitude in training that I also don’t get to see.
And actually, I love that Klopp – at a point where I’d sworn I never want to see Dejan Lovren in the team again – will then go and make Lovren captain for the next game. I think it’s brilliant man-management, even if, over time, there should be fewer inconsistent players in the Reds XI. (But overall, Lovren is getting better, I feel, with fewer bad games, but the game at Wembley against Spurs was a nightmare.) Sven Bender says of Klopp that at Dortmund he never made a player feel like he was dead to him – “on the contrary”, he says, in Honigstein’s book, “he always gave the player another chance if he was willing to take it.”
Klopp will stick by his players whilst he has them, and try to get the most from them; but if necessary, he will move them on or edge them out. He would at times use Christian Benteke while he had him, but he also knew he wanted someone new the next season. That’s a really good form of evolution. He gives players the chance to play themselves back into form, and doesn’t damn anyone for having a nightmare. As long as their attitude is good (and so that counted out Mamadou Sakho), they can earn a reprieve. But it also sends a message of fairness across the whole squad.
As much as I’ve always had a fascination with those supposedly ultra-gifted kids – the wunderkinds – I’ve long-since documented my interest in the mysterious late-bloomer, too.
For instance, having looked at a lot of the top strikers in the world over the past two decades or so, there were a few who emerged as fully-formed teenage scorers, but many more who seemed to only hit their stride around the age of 22. And that’s just the goalscorers. To my mind, slower players tend to blossom later (as pace is a good way to get into a team early), and centre-backs and goalkeepers often mature later, due to the costly nature of their mistakes, which are often left to be made on someone else’s pitch. But as the pressure on managers for instant results grows, players in other positions can see their chances limited, too.
Players like Jamie Carragher and Frank Lampard were not world-class teenagers. Jamie Vardy wasn’t even a professional footballer at 24, and Ian Wright – who was one hell of a striker – was also a non-leaguer until well into his 20s. Harry Kane looked pretty hopeless at 21, and Alan Shearer only started scoring goals at 22 (having played in the top flight regularly since the age of 17), yet leads the way, by some distance, in the Premier League era for goals scored (and dull celebrations). Thierry Henry wasn’t seen as a natural goalscorer, either. Didier Drogba was in the French second-tier at 23. Luis Suarez was brought to Europe by a fairly low-key Dutch club.
The idea that there are a ton of Vardys just waiting to be spotted is wayward; but equally, the scope for improvement for any player must not be underestimated either, if they work hard and get elite coaching, and avoid debilitating injuries. If there aren’t many Vardys around, there have to be a shed-load of potential Kanes (who don’t then make the most of their talent).
What marks Kane out from many others, however, is his incessant work-rate on and off the pitch, and a manager who, like Klopp, has shown he can develop players. He keeps improving. He eschews alcohol all season long, and is in some ways boring, but he makes the most of his talent.
But some luck has to be involved, too; after all, Harry Redknapp was close to letting Gareth Bale leave Spurs for peanuts, and Kane was not cutting the mustard at Spurs at the age of 21 (after numerous unremarkable lower division loans), until things finally clicked. He is currently in his fifth straight year of improving goal returns. (So, don’t assume that Dominic Solanke will copy Kane, but equally, don’t assume that he can’t.)
Like Kane, Bale was a standout player at international youth levels, but unlike Kane, Bale made an immediate impact in senior football, at Southampton, and quickly became a full international (whereas Kane looked too ordinary – not the quickest, not the most skilled, not the tallest). Bale had that searing pace. But after he moved to Spurs as a teenager, Bale had two very mediocre seasons and one decent one, at the age of 20/21. Although he started out at left-back, he scored five league goals in his first three seasons; then seven the next season; then nine; then … twenty-one!
Where the hell did 21 come from? Well, he’d turned 23 just before the season began, so it’s possible to see a massive leap at a point where most of us assume a player is already fully formed. Development is an ongoing process, especially with the will to keep improving.
One part of Honigstein’s book that struck a real chord with me is the way Klopp and his assistants sounded out potential targets. Klopp’s verbal questionnaires to players he tried to sign when in Germany was fascinating, trying to weed out the selfish glory-hunters from the true team-players. (I assume he does similar at Liverpool, perhaps on the rollercoaster on Blackpool beach; anyone who doesn’t dare get on with him, or who closes his eyes, is instantly discarded.)
Klopp didn’t want anyone who would happily coast through training if they felt they would still deliver on match-day, because it might not be sustainable, but also, it sends the wrong message. To keep a fully-intense style of play, and to try and rely on ruthless dedication and never-say-die spirit, there needs to be that overriding ethos. If some players are switching on and off in training then the whole vibe can be slacker. Peter Krawietz tells Honigstein that there is an informal but binding contract between all the players: everyone must do their share of the work and close down as demanded. First, because it doesn’t work as well if only one man presses (it’s easy to play around), and second, because everyone is equal. No one is too good to do his share.
Mo Salah tracks back, Sadio Mané tracks back, and the beauty of Roberto Firmino is that no one in midfield can slack off if the centre-forward is working like a dervish. A lazy no.9 might get you goals, but what do you lose without him also setting the tempo of the press?
Last week, both Jonathan Wilson and Michael Cox wrote in the media about Liverpool’s togetherness and work-rate against Porto, whilst lamenting the superstar, selfish nature of the Real Madrid and PSG ‘super clash’. Incredibly, every third Cristiano Ronaldo touch was a shot. Neither of each of the two giants’ main forwards exchanged a single pass with each other. Madrid still achieve success, of course, but it’s somewhat soulless, built on spending fortunes on individual brilliance. (Even though the sight of him makes me feel nauseous, and for all his selfishness in games, Ronaldo is said to train to incredible levels, to stay at the top all this time. So, that’s the secret of his success. But not only is Lionel Messi a better player, he does at least play for the team, too.)
With all this in mind, inbound transfers come with an additional risk, as they can burst the bubble of unity. Klopp probably works as hard, if not harder, than anyone on maximising the sense of unity. So anyone new can potentially destabilise a vibe that has been built up since July, and in seasons before. They arrive in the middle of a flurry of competitive games, not with six weeks to prepare.
Of course, when Klopp does add players, it’s because he knows they will fit in; the research, as mentioned, has been done. No dickheads need apply. It just means that he will put the squad as a whole first, and not disrupt things with panic buys. That’s part of the reason why so many signings since he arrived have succeeded beyond expectations; a reversal of the fortunes seen under his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, whose very bright start faded after players he specifically chose flopped badly.
As much as I love an exciting inbound transfer, and as nervous or upset I can get over Liverpool selling a top player, there has to be some trust in a manager with a proven track record, especially as he knows all the finer details and hidden truths, and we don’t. He was criticised for not compromising on Player B or Player C in the summer, but he knew van Dijk had given him his word (on the rollercoaster, one presumes), and Klopp had done likewise. Again, we don’t get to see that, so we think he’s insane, reckless. Well, hardly.
And if a player really wants to leave, then there comes a point where the harmony of the squad is more important there, too. And as talented as Philippe Coutinho is, a fully committed team may have its advantages. Indeed, Liverpool have arguably seen a better-balanced side since he was sold, although it remains early days. But without doubt, the Reds certainly haven’t collapsed or struggled since he last played at the end of December. And for a player to go on strike twice in the same season has to be considered a step too far in terms of trying to get everyone pulling in the same direction.
In Honigstein’s book there is also a story from Klopp’s playing career in the late 1990s, that highlights how a manager can get more than people expect from a group of players, and which also pokes holes in the talent myth. Mainz – then a tiny club – were marooned at the bottom of the 2nd tier of German football at the winter break. They had already been given a “0% chance” of escaping relegation by the magazine Kicker. It was then that their manager decided to switch from the traditional German sweeper system which came with man-marking in open play – which almost everyone still used – to zonally marking in open play (i.e. centre-backs don’t follow their man all over the pitch), hard pressing, and four at the back. The insurance policy of the sweeper at the back was replaced with an extra body in midfield. The work off the ball was ramped up.
In a warm-up game before the season resumed, against the full-strength XI of the monied team that was set to be promoted and essentially replace them, Mainz were 6-0 up at half-time. They went on to win 32 points in the second half of the season, more than anyone else in the top two tiers of German football. Wolfgang Frank was the manager, and Jürgen Klopp was the centre-back. (Incidentally, Frank’s two sons, Benjamin and Sebastian, now work as scouts for Liverpool, having consulted for Leicester City ahead of their crazy success in 2015/16.)
It’s hard to make that kind of radical impact now – to be 6-0 up at half-time against a better team on paper, and to go from the worst side in the division to the best – given that everyone has access to similar knowledge, in the digital age. There aren’t really any tactical shifts that can be so new and so devastating. But it shows that changing an approach – with the same level of “talent” – and training in a new way, can affect results; there was no need for them to spend their way out of danger, not that they had any money. It was Frank, inspired by Arrigo Sacchi, who in turn inspired Jürgen Klopp.
There is a lot more to a football team than we ever get to see.
Article by Paul Tomkins
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