Liverpool have bolstered their coaching ranks with the addition of a man who has won big trophies on the pitch and on the training ground
When Jurgen Klopp spoke for the first time about the arrival of Claudio Taffarel at Anfield, he revealed he and his team have “had this idea for a while”.
The Brazilian is hugely well-regarded as a player, having won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil with five clean sheets from seven games and won European trophies with Parma and Galatasaray.
An illustrious playing career is no guarantee of success on the training ground, of course, but the 55-year-old has cut his teeth in Turkey and Brazil, helping oversee some real improvement in his home country.
While Alisson knows all about what his compatriot has to offer, thanks to the pair working together at international level, the “new philosophy” Klopp hopes to impart with Taffarel could have a wider and longer-lasting benefit.
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While Liverpool have enjoyed a solid start to the season, their defensive record remains worse than that of their rivals.
After 14 games this season, Liverpool have conceded 12 goals to Manchester City’s eight and Chelsea’s six.
At the same point last season they had shipped seven more than City, while even the title-winning side of 2019-20 was conceding almost a goal a game by early December.
Part of this might be put down to the uncertainty at the back without their regular goalkeeper, with Adrian shipping nine in two appearances at the start of last season, and this is where Taffarel comes in.
When Alisson began working with Taffarel at international level, he was quickly transformed from fan to respectful colleague.
“Taffarel was always my idol,” the Reds keeper said in 2015.
“A person who means so much to the club, so much to all Brazilians, as well as to me.
“Today I’m more of his fan, because I know him better, because I work with him, I now admire him as a goalkeeper coach, he does a great job.”
This level of respect is perhaps why both Alisson and his international colleague Ederson have been ready to come straight back in after spells on the sidelines – as a Brazil goalkeeper, if you don’t want to show your quality in front of Taffarel, you’re doing it wrong – but even with that in mind, the Selecao’s numbers have been scarily good.
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Brazil have conceded just four goals in 13 qualifying games to clinch their place at the 2022 World Cup, and just two in their last 11.
Only three players scored against them in Copa America matches over the summer, meanwhile, with Angel di Maria’s winner in the final the only goal they conceded in the knockout stages.
Over that time, Alisson and Ederson have shared responsibilities, with Weverton also stepping in and keeping cleen sheets in the September internationals.
While Liverpool might have a bigger drop-off between Alisson and his understudies, the value of preparedness is huge.
Taffarel’s role can be twofold, demonstrating his quality as a coach and his value as a winner; someone ready to come up big when the situation demands it.
Liverpool fans will still have nightmares about Adrian’s mistake against Atletico Madrid during the 2019-20 Champions League exit, and the less said the better when it comes to Loris Karius’ role in the 2018 final defeat.
A clean sheet in the 1994 semi and final is the sign of a man who knows and has always known what a big game in, with Taffarel’s save from Daniele Massaro in the penalty shootout in Pasadena one of many big ones across his career.
Philip Cocu and Ronald de Boer were denied as Taffarel sent Brazil into the 1998 final, while Arsenal fans will remember the mere presence of the South American between the sticks saw Davor Suker and Patrick Vieira fail to convert in that 2000 Uefa Cup final. Not that anyone came close to beating him in 120 minutes before that, either.
“We have lots of games, so constantly on the road,” Klopp said when speaking about Taffarel’s arrival.
“We wanted a real solution for these boys and want to create our own Goalkeeper philosophy.”
The next time Alisson is unavailable for whatever reason, even if it’s just so he can be given a rest, the Liverpool manager will hope Taffarel’s presence has made sure Kelleher, Adrian or whoever else is more than ready to step up.
As for Alisson himself? Well, he already knows what to expect and he’s already a huge fan.