Building the Total Player ...'Defending is an Attitude'

Updated: Sep 28, 2019

When Mohamed Salah and Van Dijk win PFA player of the year awards within a year, and 18 months, respectively, of working under Klopp, it is a powerful advert for the 51-year-old.

However, it is the development of Robertson into one of Europe’s best left backs after his arrival from Hull City in an £8 million transfer in July 2017 that arguably acts as the best case study of how Klopp works.

Robertson was told at his first meeting that he had to improve defensively and that the onus would be on him to do so. The manager helped but the credit for rising to the challenge lies with the 25-year-old, who has matured into a leader.

“Defending is attitude: ‘I want to win the ball, I want to be close, I want to win the challenge,’ ” Klopp said. “I knew he needs to feel it by himself. If he does it because I am constantly telling him . . . [no] he has to do it because it must be natural. ‘I want to be a defender and, when I have the ball, I want to be a winger.’ That’s the full back’s job.”

The 13 assists Robertson has delivered have been crucial, and the advancement in his all-round game speaks volumes.