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Jurgen Klopp on how ‘game-changer’ Arrigo Sacchi has influenced his career


A fine choice, Jurgen.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has explained why he holds former AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi in the highest regard.

Sacchi is widely considered one of the most influential coaches in history, credited with pioneering principles of pressing, high defensive lines and the offside trap, the first two of which have become synonymous with Klopp’s teams throughout the years.

A surprise appointment by the Rossoneri in 1987 given his lack of managerial experience at the highest level, Sacchi led Milan to back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990 as well as a Serie A title in 1988 during his historic four-year reign at the San Siro.

In 2013, World Soccer magazine ranked him as the sixth greatest manager in history behind Alex Ferguson, Rinus Michels, Jose Mourinho, Helenio Herrera and Pep Guardiola.

And speaking with Jamie Carragher for the former Liverpool defender’s book The Greatest Games (partly serialised in The Telegraph), Klopp has outlined how Sacchi has influenced his own coaching odyssey.

“Sacchi completely changed how we think about football,” said Klopp.

“He is one of the most influential coaches in the history of the game and a complete game-changer for me.

“Because of him we had to judge the size of the pitch in a new way. I am sure you remember playing with man-marking tactics where you pretty much followed the opponent you were marking to the toilet.

“The pitch always felt incredibly big. Nobody played a high line because many teams played the libero.”

Klopp explained that Sacchi’s ability to organise a team and produce the best from his players as a collective, as opposed to relying on flashes of individual brilliance to win watches, was revolutionary.

The Liverpool manager also spoke highly of Wolfgang Frank, his former boss at Mainz.

“Before him [Sacchi] I was told who to mark and that was it. Too often the team with the better individuals won the game because it was all one-versus-one challenges all over the pitch, so if the other player was better than you, how could you win? Sacchi’s organisation made it completely different.

“I did not learn it from Sacchi, but it was my manager at Mainz, Wolfgang Frank, who brought it to us, which meant as a player I watched five hundred videos of AC Milan.

“I saw how whenever Franco Baresi raised his arms to play offside, everyone else in the team was waiting.

“Ball-orientated defending became a real tool, and of course on top of that Milan were a sensational team with Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Baresi. They were some of the best players ever.”

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