Liverpool must balance belief and energy if they want to turn Jurgen Klopp’s feel-good factor into trophies

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Virgil van Dijk boiled the feeling down to one impressive truth right now.” data-reactid=”5″>After yet another win that went to such emotional heights, a beaming Virgil van Dijk boiled the feeling down to one impressive truth right now.

“You know… it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player.”

It’s a great time at Liverpool in general. There is just an unmistakable and undeniable buzz around the place, a sense of optimism that goes hand in hand with the adventurous football they’re playing.

Paris Saint-Germain. And Manchester City. And Roma, and so many other opposition sides.” data-reactid=”8″>In that, there’s almost a perfect synchronicity to what’s happening. Klopp’s idea of football can’t but get the Anfield crowd excited, and the excitement then further fires the team to create the kind of blazes seen against Paris Saint-Germain. And Manchester City. And Roma, and so many other opposition sides.

There’s just an energy. There aren’t, however, any trophies under Klopp yet.

That is going to be the much harder truth put to Liverpool with every great win, every grandiose claim, and somewhat undercuts Van Dijk’s other comment that they are aiming “to win everything” this season.

The question is really whether they can even win one trophy, but this is where that intangible of “the buzz” – the energy – actually becomes something with even more tangible relevance. Since so much of Klopp’s football is based on it, and it is what blows away so many sides, the challenge is to sustain it.

Champions League, that challenge becomes one of balance. It is tough to strike.” data-reactid=”12″>And, like so much with a side like Liverpool who have more limited resources than Manchester City in the Premier League and Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Champions League, that challenge becomes one of balance. It is tough to strike.

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(Reuters)

Take Van Dijk’s explanation of the team’s excessive ambition for this season.

“If you are gonna be on the pitch and don’t believe it then you’d better stay home. You need to have belief, you need to have belief in everyone in your team and I have all the belief that’s there in this team… that is the only way forward.”

Too much belief, though, can lead to complacency and thereby too little effort… too little energy. This is what happens to a lot of “nearly” teams, something that even a club as successful as Liverpool know all too well from their more recent history. Some sides start to believe the hype, and stop doing what is actually required.

Perhaps the worst example for Liverpool was the 1996 side, who set a modern club trend of wins in big games followed by dropped points in matches they would have offered much less consideration to. The famous 4-3 against Newcastle United in 1995-96 was immediately followed by a 1-0 defeat to Coventry City.

Georginio Wijnaldum said Klopp is already conscious of.” data-reactid=”37″>It takes nuanced management to prevent, and the right tone struck, but this is also what Georginio Wijnaldum said Klopp is already conscious of.

He wants to make the players conscious of the fact that all of this is down to “hard work”, most visible in so much running, and resulting in so many vibrant victories.

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(Liverpool FC via Getty)

“To be fair, the manager is really busy with that, that we stay with both feet on the ground, working hard, play as a team, being concentrated, that wins us the games… against everyone to be fair so we have to make sure that we’re still doing that, that makes the chance bigger to win a game,” Wijnaldum said.

“Anything can happen in a game, it’s not by itself you will win a game, but the chance will be bigger if you always trying to play how we play. Work hard, be 100% concentrated, trying to do what we do best, and not get carried away with ourselves and think we are this good we can do it by ourselves, because you know then you will be passive and then the danger can come in the team.”

That word “passive” is pointed and double-edged here – and points to that necessary balance again. So much of Liverpool’s fruitful form has been based on frenetic performances, but Wijnaldum revealed Klopp has preached the necessity of more passive periods, so they can save that energy for those spells and the breadth of the entire season. It is something they have been working on. You could even see it in some stretches of the PSG win.

“Of course it’s difficult for 90 minutes to play with a lot of energy but he is trying to make us aware that we have to be smart when we use our energy, and how far you can go in a game,” Wijnaldum added. “We’re fit, but also we get tired, so you have to play with it during a game – now you have to press, now you have to think about it to stay as a team. We have to be aware of those moments, and I think that’s what we were aware of [on Tuesday].”

It means the team are well aware of what might be possible, even though it’s still so early in the season. This is a great time to be a Liverpool player. Those players just need to now translate that into properly great times for the club.

They need to carry this right to the end.