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Distracted Jurgen Klopp has left the door open for a Manchester City revival

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates with his players

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates with his players

Richard Dunne

Whether it’s intentional or not, the demeanour of a manager is reflected in his team. If the manager is happy and focused, his team will be the same.

I looked at Jurgen Klopp last season, his positivity and energy, and I look at him now and see him fighting with people.

He seems to be distracted by different issues: the number of substitutes you can use or how many penalties Manchester United are getting. Whatever the issue is, Klopp does not seem to be leading the team in the same way he did last season.

Liverpool don’t look as happy now. You have stories about Salah being unsettled, Klopp arguing with people over all manner of issues, they don’t seem as calm and focused as they were last season.

It’s difficult to switch that back on when you take your eye off it, however briefly. The only way Liverpool can get back to where they were is by getting back one of their central defenders, or bringing in a new one.

I said last week that I wasn’t too worried about Liverpool’s dip in form as, while they weren’t winning games, they weren’t losing either. Now they have lost, to Southampton, and it’s a different outlook.

When Manchester City moved Fernandinho from midfield to central defence, they lost a lot of what made them strong. And it’s the same with Liverpool and Fabinho – they’re at their strongest when he’s in central midfield.

He can do a job at the back, but they badly miss him in midfield. Fabinho brings a steadiness to that area and they don’t have the type of player to fill in for him.

It’s not that Fabinho is doing a bad job at centre back, but Liverpool badly need a central defender to release Fabinho back into midfield.

Liverpool's front three have been mis-firing

Liverpool's front three have been mis-firing

Klopp needs to get that focus back, that positivity, that mindset. The players and fans need to hear the message from him that there are no excuses.

It doesn’t matter if you can use three subs or five, it doesn’t matter if Manchester United got a penalty, we will go out and play our game and try to win it. He needs to focus on what they need to do as a team, not trying to change things beyond their control.

And while Liverpool are in this slump, Manchester City are shaping up well. I have watched City’s last two games and I was trying to figure out how they have become the side they are now over a couple of matches.

I think it’s down to the way that Pep Guardiola has them set up.

Earlier in the season – the game that sticks out for me is when they played Leeds – City were all about being high-intensity, pressing, high tempo . . . but they stopped after 45 minutes in that match.

They seemed to choose which games they pressed in. In a lot of games they sat back and waited, as they knew they were so good in possession they were capable of beating teams. But they didn’t always put on the pressure that saw them winning games 5-0 or 6-0 as in past seasons.

When City were getting 100 points a season and blasting teams away, they were always on the front foot, always taking the game to the opposition. But now they seem happy to surrender possession for spells.

The City side I see now are pacing themselves, and it has to be a ploy by the manager, saying we need to build our way into games, relax when we need to. Even against Chelsea, when City won well, they eased off for 10 minutes to suss out the game and then went at them for half an hour.

In the second half they did something similar, sat back and then hit Chelsea on the counter-attack.

They did it again against Manchester United in the League Cup game on Wednesday. They pressed and pressed against United, went 1-0 up and were happy to sit back. I think that instruction is coming from the manager, to sit back for spells and then go on the attack. And it’s worked in the last few games.

If the last three games are a sign of where City are at as a side now, they will be hard to stop for the rest of the season. It helps that City have found a back four, or at least a central defensive partnership, that works and that the manager can rely on.

When Rodri plays instead of Fernandinho he’s not as good as Fernandinho at stopping play further up the field.

He’s happier sitting deep instead of pressing high, and the manager has come up with a plan which says, if we go at it for half an hour we should be able to score two, maybe more, and that should be enough to win the match.

They are conserving energy with the way they play now and they look solid in defence.

They look fresher as a team too. When a lot of teams are plodding through the season, City have exploded. I think they are putting that fear into teams again.

They didn’t have a pre-season and they have a very busy fixture list, so the manager is happy to pick and choose the spells when they play, instead of being 100 miles an hour every week. And it’s working for City.

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