We can’t control if we’re the richest, but we can control if we’re the fittest team in the league.
That’s Jurgen Klopp’s mantra, brilliantly explained by Jonathan Northcroft’s piece in the Sunday Times yesterday.
According to Northcroft, Klopp’s pre-season training was so demanding that players tried not to throw up after gruelling cardio exercise all aimed towards creating an extraordinary base level of fitness.
Here’s our favourite extract from the article:
Klopp presided over treble sessions. A witness described “strewn bodies and players panting and choking back vomit” but also learning to take masochistic pleasure in Klopp’s methods. The squad would sit after dinner speculating with grim smiles about what horrors he had next in store for them.
They bought into something Klopp told them: we can’t control other clubs spending more than us, but we can control fitness, and if we’re not the richest team in the league, we can be the fittest.
“Give Jurgen training over a transfer any day”, said a source. It was usually 30 degrees when Liverpool’s squad was working out, sessions lasting 90 minutes. In five weeks, Liverpool also played nine pre-season games.
There has been little let-up since the season began. The players had just two days off in September. Even tactical sessions are tough: the team is drilled at match pace, at keeping compact, and at group pressing. A favourite drill involves mannequins wearing different coloured bibs.
Klopp shouts a colour and players sprint to the right mannequin as if they’ve just lost the ball.
In fairness, it looks at the moment like it worked.
We’re out-running every side in the country and have won seven of our first nine fixtures in all competitions. We cover more ground than the other 19 Premier League sides, but have more possession than all of them as well. Imagine how difficult it must be to come up against that?
We can imagine the summer was very hard for the players, but it’s reaping its rewards. In terms of our Premier League campaign, it seems to be working wonders, and we really think that in this respect missing out on Europe was a Godsend – in terms of the physical demands made on the players.