Liverpool are using unorthodox tactics to help goalkeeper Loris Karius adjust to life in the Premier League.
The 23-year-old has made a somewhat nervy start to his Anfield career, despite impressing manager Jürgen Klopp enough to have dislodged Simon Mignolet from the position. Indeed, Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet in the league this season as defensive errors remain the only dark cloud on an otherwise shining season.
A report in the Liverpool Echo has revealed that Klopp is using rugby training methods in order to help Karius (and indeed Mignolet) to toughen up and cope better with the physicality of the Premier League.
Goalkeeping coach John Achterberg has taken to using tackling bags to try and disrupt the goalkeepers’ attempts to claim high balls in training, thus preparing them for heavy challenges from opposition players in a match setting.
Klopp has explained the thinking behind the practice:
“John Achterberg usually does it with his hands but it’s better to use something else!
“Of course that’s important. There are different things you have to do as a coach.
“First, as a keeper you have to learn the technique then you have to adapt to the real circumstances – having six, seven players around you.
“No-one gets out of your way. It is completely the opposite. They want to disturb your way.
“That wasn’t a specific preparation for Crystal Palace. It was specific training for goalkeepers in the Premier League.
“West Brom was the same, it was pretty much the same against Manchester United. That’s goalkeeping life. You can’t change this.
“You can’t say no long balls in the box and if there are then immediately whistle. That’s not how it works so we need to prepare the boys and that’s what John is doing.”
Klopp has already confirmed that Karius is now officially Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper, though he will find that adapting to the Premier League is something he will have to do quickly.