Postecoglou feels Klopp’s pain in Liverpool as high-octane Yokohama F. Marinos look to bounce back afterwards

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There are similarities between Yokohama F. Marinos manager Ange Postecoglou and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Pressing is a vital characteristic of the Postecoglou and Klopp teams, and both coaches impose a brand of high-octane offensive football.

Postecoglou and Klopp were also coming off title wins that ended the drought when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

In 2019, F. Marinos manager Postecoglou led the Japanese club to its first J.League title since 2004, while Klopp ended Liverpool’s 30-year drought in the Premier League last season.

But F. Marinos couldn’t back him up, finishing ninth and 36 points adrift from champion Kawasaki Frontale last year. Klopp has already publicly admitted that Liverpool’s title defense is over: the Reds are sixth and 19 points behind runaway leader Manchester City with 13 games remaining in 2020-21.

The fights are no coincidence amid demanding schedules and growing injury lists as a result of COVID-19.

“Absolutely,” Postecoglou told Stats Perform News when asked if he could relate to Klopp as he prepares for Friday’s season opener against Kawasaki. “Not so much when it comes to success, but you look at their football, it is high intensity and not sustainable when you have such a congested match roster.

“It’s not just them. Any team in the world that plays that game with such intensity, particularly with the pressure aspect not so much in possession, has found it very difficult. Liverpool are a classic example of that. Even as a club like Southampton, which prides itself on that urgent aspect, they have struggled this season.

“The way you fight, it’s not just about the results, but you lose players to injuries, trying to maintain that kind of intensity. Player rotation affects the fluidity of the way you play. What I found especially last year is that you can rotate the front half of your team and still get some stability and consistency in results, but if you have to change center back and defenders regularly, you’re going to have problems. That is definitely where we struggled last year. I don’t think there are more than half a dozen games in which we had the same center-back and goalkeeper pair followed by injuries that we had. We received many goals.

“You look at Liverpool and most of their injury problems have been with their back. Conversely, I look at Kawasaki, who was so dominant in our league. They were really stable in terms of their four running backs and they didn’t really make changes. It had more depth in the front third where they could rotate players. Their game was based on keeping the ball, they were not so aggressive in the process. I think data-wise they were the lowest performing team in the league. That was definitely the way to go last year. They also had the quality to do it, it is not an easy way to play.

“Even reading Pep Guardiola’s comments that he is trying to get his team to run less in this period and they have been more effective. There is definitely a correlation with the amount of running you need to play your style of play. The more it is, the more effective it is during this period. “

Having changed the landscape of Australian football following back-to-back A-League titles and a record 36-game unbeaten streak at Brisbane Roar, plus a revolutionary 2015 Asian Cup win with the Socceroos, Postecoglou took Japan by storm. and Asia in 2019.

Cut from the same fabric as Guardiola and Maurizio Sarri, an emphasis on attacking football, with an unwavering faith in his philosophy, F. Marinos de Postecoglou dazzled on his way to J.League glory in 2019, ahead of the FC Tokyo.

However, F.Marinos, who is part of the City Football Group, could not compete again afterwards, as Postecoglou puts it, that the J.League “congested a season in really five months”, while the club also juggled with the Asian champions. League commitments.

F. Marinos had a red-hot start to the season before the 2020 campaign was initially suspended due to the coronavirus. His title defense quickly turned pear-shaped.

While their attack and possession numbers were roughly the same from 2019 to 2020, only the Kawasaki champions scored more goals, the same cannot be said in terms of F. Marinos’ defense.

F. Marinos conceded 59 goals last season, having sent just 38 when they ended their 15-year wait for J.League trophies. Outside the area, 11 goals were conceded, compared to three the previous year, while they allowed 47 shots from outside the area (21 in 2019).

There were also large differences in the proportion of stops to shots (69.1% to 61.9%), proportion of stops to shots within the area (65.6% to 55.0%) and proportion of stops to shots outside the area. area (85.7% to 76.6%)).

“We all had to deal with something that was unique,” Postecoglou said when discussing the impact of COVID-19 on soccer. “None of us in our life had ever been through anything like this, even remotely like that. At first, it was a bit surreal because you thought it would happen, but then it remained part of almost your existence where you have these restrictions imposed. To be fair here in Japan, they handled it pretty well. We didn’t really have any major blockages. Life, for the most part, was pretty normal. It definitely affected our soccer season.

“It affected the players and the staff a lot, not just us, but all the clubs. We had the added challenge of being in the ACL [Asian Champions League], which further affected our schedule. Playing without fans and empty stadiums, there was a surreal feeling. The prevailing sentiment was simply to get over it in the best way possible and make the most of it. We were still able to do what we love, work in a normal sense. “

The absence of fans due to the coronavirus crisis cannot be underestimated either. While a limited number of fans returned for the J.League games at the end of the 2020 season after the games were initially organized behind closed doors, Postecoglou said: “Actually, it affects football games. The fans not only provide the theater and atmosphere, they have an effect on the players and coaches.

“Anyone who knows and has played in a stadium away from home with passionate support, it can be intimidating, it can affect their game. If you’re chasing the game, having support in the stadium can lift you up or make your opponent nervous. It definitely affects. At first, it seemed like every game was a friendly game, it had that kind of avant-garde lack and a bit of intensity that you feel in real games. Over time, I think the players and the coaches got used to it and the games went back to normal. “

While 2020 did not go as planned, Postecoglou does not stop at last season.

“It was such an unusual season,” added the former Australia manager. “Will those kinds of circumstances happen again? If they ever do, there are certain things that you would probably do differently: the way we train and play. If you are trying to make a major change from what happened last year, although this year seems like a very affected year for all of us, we hope that things will return to normal in the near future.

“If you just react to what happened last year and significantly change what you do, I am not entirely convinced that it is a good sign to say that we can make things better simply by focusing on what happened last year. In the footballing sense, if we find ourselves in that situation of playing so many games, we probably would have played differently and we would have tried to play with less intensity because having so many games made it difficult for our players.

Postecoglou, like Manchester City manager Guardiola and former Chelsea and Juventus manager Sarri, is pushing the envelope. His approach never wanes and success follows the highly skilled 55-year-old in his pursuit of excellence.

All eyes will once again be on his free-flowing F. Marinos team, with Postecoglou steadfast in his beliefs as he attempts to establish the historic Yokohama-based club, the longest-serving Japanese top flight team alongside Kashima. Antlers, having played in the J. League every year since its inception in 1992, among Japan’s elite.

“For me, it’s just about ‘can we play our football?’ To be fair, we did it even last year. It’s a super competitive league. We had fantastic success, but we are not yet one of the big clubs. For us to be a great club, we need to have a certain level of performance year after year. ” Postecoglou said.

“Last year I thought our performances were pretty good and I stayed true to the football we wanted to play, but the results weren’t. We were inconsistent. This year is about maintaining our football and being more consistent with our results. If we are to become one of the great clubs in Japan, we must finish in those top places regularly and win the silver medal. That is our goal. Everything starts and ends with me with our football. What I do know, when our football is good and we are stable, the results tend to continue ”.

Postecoglou reaches 2021 thanks to a contract extension after F. Marinos’ run to the Champions League in the round of 16, having led his group.

F. Marinos finished 12th in their first season in 2018, narrowly avoiding relegation but only being outscored by champions Kawasaki, while also reaching the J.League Cup final when Postecoglou turned the club around, leaving behind a pragmatic approach in favor of his entertaining football.

Three years after his trip to Japan, what does the future hold for the ambitious Australian, who has been suggested to move to Europe after a brief stint in Greece in 2008?

“Just keep doing what I’ve been doing: looking at challenging things and what excites me,” he said. “I have been training for a while and I have been very fortunate that in the clubs that I have worked for, we have had some kind of success. I like to think that I made my mark in those clubs. That is what I am looking for in the future. I hope I have between 10 and 15 years of coaching left, whatever the next project and wherever it may be, it is something that will excite me.

“For me, passion is in football. That was the whole challenge of coming to Japan: could I adopt a different culture, a different language, the difficulty of the competition, could my ideas work here? It has been a great satisfaction to see that it works, both personally and for the club because they enjoy success. Whatever the next move, it will be a similar scenario. “

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