There’s a mighty interesting piece in the Financial Times that suggests the reason Liverpool are cracking America is not only because we’re currently the best team on the planet – but because the athleticism of our players is beginning to mimic those who standout in the country’s favourite sports: the NBA and the NFL.
Obviously our players are not as tall as point guards or as wide as defensive linesman, but Janan Ganesh argues the immense physicality Jurgen Klopp demands from his team aligns with US taste.
‘Liverpool are spoilt for skill,’ he writes. ‘But what makes them something of an inflection point in the history of the game is their bionic physical output. Last season, they completed more sprints than any team in the league. They “press” — run to reclaim the ball — with the vehemence and co-ordination of a Tundra wolf pack. Their games have something of basketball’s disorientating speed. Klopp’s favourite word in his second language tells you more than any drone-harvested sports data from Liverpool’s space-age training centre.’
Ganesh states that American viewers have traditionally struggled with ‘soccer’ due to the fact ‘Lionel Messi is the same height as Al Pacino’ and ‘Luka Modric weighs less than your average Rolling Stone,’ which from an English perspective, is bizarre – considering it’s skill and desire we admire over sheer brawn…
But if our manic counter-attack wins us more supporters from across the pond, then who are we to argue?
Our owners are of course American and we’ve just signed a kit deal with the biggest sportswear brand on the planet, Nike – who will further increase our brand stateside.
Klopp deploys his teams so they win – and for no other reason – but potential by-products are still interesting nonetheless.