Emre Can earns Liverpool a 1-1 draw vs. Rubin Kazan in Klopp's Anfield debut
LIVERPOOL, England -- Three points from Liverpool's 1-1 draw Thursday with 10-man Rubin Kazan in the Europa League:
1. Jurgen Klopp shows his serious side
It is becoming a theme that a new Liverpool manager makes his Anfield bow in the Europa League. Jurgen Klopp followed in the footsteps of Roy Hodgson, whose introduction came against Rabotnicki, and Brendan Rodgers, whose home debut was against Gomel. As they are the only two Liverpool managers since 1959 who did not win a trophy, the newcomer may hope the similarities end there.
There is already one difference -- Hodgson and Rodgers won their first home games while Klopp was thwarted by Rubin Kazan, which secured a 1-1 draw. An eagerly anticipated occasion turned out to be a frustrating one. There were some 8,000 empty seats for the previous European night, against Sion. Despite a shortage of visitors, Anfield was rather more packed for this game. That is the Klopp factor.
The man in question had a pre-match stroll around the Anfield turf to a rapturous reception from the Liverpool public. If most of the flags on the Kop still celebrate managers such as Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, whose achievements have come on Merseyside, a newer creation featured Klopp's image and the nickname he bestowed on himself: "the Normal One." Some supporters donned scarves that had the words "Jurgen Klopp, Kaiser von der Kop."
Meanwhile, the message from the manager himself seemed to be that after two weeks of being the centre of attention, it was time to surrender the spotlight to his team. Klopp's entrance before kickoff was subdued, his dress sense serious. He was wearing a three-piece suit rather than his trademark jeans. This, he seemed to be saying, was not a time to be quirky and irreverent. The maverick pictured in the programme during his playing days, with bleached-blond hair and a moustache, was replaced by a more upright figure who stood on the edge of his technical area throughout.
The old Klopp was only apparent with a fist pump as he turned to the Main Stand to celebrate Emre Can's 37th-minute goal. Yet his team's shortcomings meant Anfield was denied the opportunity to see how he would mark a winner.
2. Liverpool lack quality to beat Rubin Kazan
If Rodgers were still in charge, the facts would have been used as part of the case for the prosecution. Liverpool played for 55 minutes against 10 men of a side currently 12th in the Russian league. They failed to win.
It seems as though the Reds' drawing habit has survived the regime change. This was the seventh time in eight matches that they finished level, and the sixth to end 1-1. It felt a continuation of the old, rather than the start of something new.
Whereas Liverpool had started at a ferocious pace against Tottenham on Saturday, there was no repeat. This was more soft rock than Klopp's beloved "heavy metal football." The crowd were quiet, too, and Kazan capitalised. Oleg Kuzmin delivered a diagonal pass and Marko Devic controlled the ball on his chest, held off Nathaniel Clyne's challenge and finished adeptly with the outside of his right foot.
Liverpool's defence continue to be too generous and for the third successive game, Simon Mignolet bailed them out. The Belgian had to be alert to tip Blagoy Georgiev's shot over the bar and prevent Rubin taking a 2-0 lead.
Instead, Kuzmin contrived to get sent off and Can leveled, but the team from Tatarstan defended doggedly. Liverpool lacked the quality to break them down.
The squad Klopp has inherited is scarcely enviable. Adam Lallana was prominent, but Philippe Coutinho's decision-making let him down at times and his radar proved awry as his shots were invariably off-target. It was telling that he was replaced along with Divock Origi, whose need for a first Liverpool goal is ever more apparent.
Origi has begun each European game as Rodgers used the continental competition to rotate. Injuries deprived his successor of the same luxury and Klopp made a solitary change, replacing Joe Allen with Lucas, a swap he reserved at halftime with the Welshman on a yellow card.
The recuperating Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino began on the bench but both were summoned in the search for a winner. Benteke came closest, striking the far post from an awkward angle, but Liverpool maintained their 100 percent record in the Europa League: They have drawn all three games.
Klopp's side are second in Group B behind runaway leaders Sion, but this result probably means Klopp has to take his best players to Russia for the return fixture in two weeks' time. That in turn could have a debilitating effect on their Premier League form.
3. Can can take his chance in midfield
Klopp may prove a transformative figure at Liverpool over time. One German proved a catalytic figure against Kazan and the manager has had an impact on his compatriot, Can. The utility man's days in defence seem to be at an end, along with the policy of using three centre-backs that Rodgers adopted.
Can is a midfielder once again. In his proper position, he illustrated his strengths and turned the game in a fine minute of work. He is a powerful runner, so forceful that Kuzmin could not handle him and deservedly received his second caution of the first half. Then when Origi headed down Coutinho's subsequent free kick, Can slid in to score just his second Liverpool goal. His time as a centre-back or right-back afforded him fewer chances, but if he is to earn an extended run in midfield, he has to become more prolific.
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That goal apart, Can's evening showed a player who has been shunted around the side and understandably remains incomplete. He conceded possession too often but did show the tenacity to regain it. While he can burst forward, there is a suspicion he is too slow in possession. Others can be quicker to receive and release the ball, meaning that Liverpool lost momentum at times when Can got the ball.
At others, Can stretched the game to permit teammates space. In Klopp's otherwise narrow 4-3-3 featuring a lack of natural wide players, it was notable that the young German wandered out to the left flank at times. It is alien territory for one who has operated almost everywhere else, but his trips to the touchline were part of a wider brief.
Richard Jolly covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Twitter: @RichJolly.