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08th May 2019

Klopp’s instructions to ball-boys takes preparation to new levels

Wayne Farry

Liverpool’s tactics went from the pitch to the ball-boys.

If there was one incredibly noticeable aspect of Liverpool’s attack during their defeat of Barcelona on Tuesday night it was the speed with which the home side recycled the ball after Barcelona put it out of play.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are a team which breaks with pace and tries – at all times – to keep the ball in play, whether it be in their possession or their opponents.

This was something they utilised to great effect in their 4-0 dismantling of Barcelona at Anfield, with the stadium’s ballboys constantly retrieving the ball quickly and returning it to Liverpool’s players at pace.

While this may have simply appeared to be some quick thinking ballboys, it has actually emerged that the instructions to move the ball back to the players quickly was one sent down from the manager Jurgen Klopp.

According to a report in the Independent, Liverpool’s analysis from their first leg defeat at the Camp Nou was that Barcelona switched off and complained when a set-piece – whether it be a free-kick, corner or throw-in, was awarded against them.

Carl Lancaster, a mentor at the club’s academy, let the ballboys know to supply the ball quickly in these situations and it was something that Oakley Cannonier followed to the note when Trent Alexander-Arnold stepped up to take that penalty late in the game.

It was Cannonier who spotted that the Barca players were in a world of their own, and it was he who rolled the ball quickly over the Alexander-Arnold, before the 20-year-old drilled a low and accurate corner onto the foot of Divock Origi.

Liverpool’s right-back can rightly claim the assist, but the 14-year-old ballboy can – at the very least – claim the assist to the assist.

Talk about ultra levels of preparation.

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