Sunday, May 10, 2015

Klopp's Club

It's been a while since I've heard Jurgen Klopp's name, so it's safe to say the media feeding frenzy surrounding his next destination has died down a bit. And that's all to the good, because there is a lot to ponder with his decision to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season. The key question is why now? I know it's incredibly obvious, but leaving after your worst season ever probably isn't the best way to land a top job. And yet, Klopp is not only leaving, he's announcing his departure well before the end of the current season, giving himself very little leverage in negotiations. This suggests to me that he already has a deal lined up with a club, one that he is keeping silent about, and I think that club is City. As I've said before, I think it likely that Pellegrini is out at the end of the season, whatever happens. This season already feels eerily reminiscent of 2012/13 to me, and having a manager ready to takeover in the summer once Champions League football has been assured is following the exact same pattern as that season. I don't think Rodgers is going anywhere, Wenger isn't either, and I really don't see Klopp going anywhere other than England for some reason. No, I think City is where he ends up, which of course begs the question, is he the right man to take over?

I don't think anybody can deny that Klopp did a great job with Dortmund.Winning consecutive Bundesliga titles and finishing runners-up in the Champions League is a record almost any manger would aspire to have. However, this most recent season must leave a sour taste for Klopp. They are currently seventh in the Bundesliga after this weekend's results, and will not make the Champions League this season. Still, they made it out of the group stages for the Champions League and are in the finals of the German Cup. Their goal difference is 5th best in the Bundesliga, suggesting they have perhaps been a bit unlucky this year. This season will only be considered a failure due to immense preseason expectations, ones that perhaps were not realistic as Bayern keep buying the club's best players. Put it this way, if this was Klopp's first season, he would probably be lauded as one of the bright, young managerial talents, as he's accomplished more this season than Rogers, for example, ever has.

Year TOP % Off Eff Def Eff FR Opp FR Games
2014/15 53 107.82 72.19 21.88% 38.95% 28
2013/14 52 138.57 69.85 32.65% 33.33% 34
2012/13 54 149.24 75.45 29.56% 34.75% 34

 If you look at the table above, it is true that Dortmund's stats have suffered this year compared to their previous two campaigns, particularly in attack. The incredible offensive efficiency has been reduced, and their Finish Rate has fallen off a cliff, partly attributable to the loss of Lewandowski this past year. Their defense has remained pretty solid, as there has been less turnover and the central defensive partnership of Hummels and Subotic is a strong one, but they are allowing a very high finish rate. Part of that can be put down to goalkeeping, but they also have 9 defensive errors leading to a goal this season, much higher than their total of 1 in 2012/13. I think it's fair to say there's probably a bit of bad luck involved there, and since it's not a long-term trend I'm giving Klopp the benefit of the doubt. To me, the story of this season is that the attack, after being deprived of Lewandowski, Goetze, and prime Kagawa (who has not been the same since the failed move to the swamp), hasn't hit the heights of the last few campaigns. I don't think you can put that on Klopp, and the stats of his incredible previous campaigns speak for themselves.

There's still a question of whether he's the right fit for City though. Klopp's teams have always played a more direct, counter-attacking style, whereas City favor a more possession-based approach in the mold of Barcelona. The executive team of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain both came from Barca and have a lot invested in the model. I think this is why there was a leak from the club saying that the club was not interested in Klopp. Still, given the disappointing nature of the season, you have to wonder if Ferran and Txiki aren't getting the ax as well. Klopp would help put the pace back in City's game, which has slowed immensely this year, and his teams' greatest weakness (oppponent's Finish Rate) would be covered by Joe Hart. Get a true ballwinner in midfield (either through the transfer market or by moving Kompany in there), combined with Aguero's pace and finishing and Silva's wizardry, and you can make a very strong counter-attacking team. It would probably be the end of Yaya's spell at City, but that may be for the best anyway.

To me, this is one of those moves that makes too much sense not to happen. City need a new manager with new ideas to improve the team, Klopp needs a new club with Champions League football that can hold on to its star players and has clout in the transfer market. We'll see how this plays out, but I wouldn't be surprised if next season City fans are clapping for Klopp.

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