ADAM Lallana, bare-chested and tattoos showing: running away from a knuckle-thrusting group of young lads, his face blotto — embracing anyone prepared to dance.
It could have been a scene from outside the Blue Angel at three on a Sunday morning. Instead, it was a Premier League football match.
Norwich City scored four and Liverpool scored five: what happened there, really, was the equivalent of two sad fools in the street fighting over the dregs of a Skol can at 2.30 in the afternoon.
Jürgen Klopp: look at the state of him. He’s staring down Tony Pulis, who, like Jason Bourne, is looking one way and then the other, as if the legacy of Treadstone is here and exit routes are necessary.
Klopp at Norwich: look at him now. I can’t remember a Liverpool manager doing this: legging it up the touchline, expressing his desire for a player to come hither; damaging his glasses in the heat of the human sandwich.
Last night, Joe Allen scored the tie-clinching penalty in the semi-final of the League Cup, a competition Liverpool almost exited against Carlisle United in September.
Allen also equalised against Arsenal in injury time and has probably been Liverpool’s most influential player since the start of 2016 despite mainly acting as a substitute.
Later on, you almost knew Klopp was present before you could actually see him. The doors of the Anfield press room were left open. Stoke manager Mark Hughes had been in, taken defeat with dignity and left with his hands in his pockets.
From across the hallway and down the stairs, there was a distinctive cackle. It pierced the silence and a few close to me began to laugh. Klopp was approaching.
This is a manager who has led Liverpool to two successive home defeats: to Manchester United and a first in almost 57 years against Stoke City. Away from home on Saturday, four goals were conceded at Norwich, a team whose fight against relegation seems futile.
Klopp is yet to deliver on his promise of “full-throttle football.” Yet he has delivered full-throttle reaction.
Suddenly, Lallana is showing signs he might have the endurance to play for Liverpool. Suddenly, Allen has become the angry little man in the pub confronting everybody — more like the next Gennaro Gattuso than the next Xavi. He deserves more game time.
And, suddenly, defeat isn’t inevitable when Liverpool appear beaten. The crowd will invest time and patience where there is defiance.
Perhaps the confusing state of affairs is a consequence of Klopp inheriting a good squad of players on paper but not one that will be good for Liverpool in reality. Right now he is attempting to turn the throttle of a scooter, not a superbike.
Liverpool have good strikers but not necessarily the strikers Liverpool need. Liverpool also have good midfielders but way too much of the same.
Liverpool do not have a good defence or a good enough goalkeeper and this is where Klopp must focus his energies on major improvement in the same way Gérard Houllier did. No other team has achieved sustained success on a base of quicksand.
Mamadou Sakho is certainly not the new Alan Hansen but he could be the new Neil Ruddock.
Sakho has many supporters, those who will counter-argue this suggestion aggressively, probably using statistics to try to make sense of their own thoughts.
These folk have infiltrated the stadium on match days, too, screeching Sakho’s surname whenever he recovers one of his mistakes in a manner that is just as desperate as it is dramatic and committed.
Is he the defender that seems tough enough because of his posturing, only for the reality to be exposed in what players from opposition teams say privately about him, and the encouragement they take from his name on the team-sheet? There are bonus points for his charity work, of course, though it counts for little when results are at stake.
Reaching Wembley so soon under Klopp points to better things ahead for Liverpool. The three years spent with Brendan Rodgers were not a waste. He helped outstanding players bring excitement as well as pleasure to Anfield.
A flawed recruitment strategy — of which he was a part of — squandered millions upon millions of pounds without ever reaching a cup final. Yet in little over three months Klopp has dragged the squad he inherited through mud without entering the transfer market.
Never before has a Liverpool team as limited as this been able to move itself into a position where it needs to win only one game to win a trophy.
In 2005, Rafael Benitez had Steven Gerrard approaching his peak when Liverpool reached the League Cup final only to lose to Chelsea before the impossible happened in Istanbul.
He also had Jamie Carragher, Didi Hamann, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia and Luis Garcia. Will any of Liverpool’s current squad be remembered in the same light as those six?
Recruitment must be the next step for Klopp.
Riding momentum is crucial for any manager. Ask Rodgers how he felt when Luis Suarez was sold and there was nothing he could do about it at precisely the moment Liverpool should have been capitalising on their best league season in 24 years.
It went backwards from there.
It is only a few days before the closure of the transfer window. Liverpool should not rush to hasty decisions about signings but the club should be equipped to make them and try hard to satisfy Klopp.
Liverpool has a cup final to prepare for.
Surely someone would relish the prospect of becoming an instant hero in that game?
F+CK me, how good are we gonna be when Klopp gets his preferred players in and has time to prepare them for the slog of a full season. He has managed this playing every four days with a disjointed & depleted squad with his best striker not playing at all.
The time under Rodgers wasn’t wasted… He did a good job of wasting millions and putting the club back years.
As he did at Watford and Reading.
Exactly what I was thinking and the two questions I ask myself after just about every game…”what the hell did that useless Rodgers spend the money on ….and what a poisoned chalice he has left behind”.
It really gets up my nostrils when he sits there at an interview (as he has of late) spouting forth like some football guru…..still think we should name one of the toilets at Anfield after him….we owe it to him.
Now the dust has settled, Rodgers did ok on reflection. The downfall was his dealings in the transfer market and that’s not entirely just his doing.
On reflection, Rodgers is even worse than I thought…
It’s not an easy job Kevin as everyone is finding out.
Do you think Klopp has done better with those same players?
You and the bloke above you must have been raging when it looked like we might win the league. Playing the best attacking football we’ve seen in nearly 30 years.
Must have been terrible for you.
Obviously my comment is directed at Red and Mushroom.
One day I’ll work these forums out!
my suggestion would be to let’s don’t keep on reopening BR chapter and pointing anymore fingers. It is history. done. finished.
as a Liverpool fan, I supported the team lead by BR. He did his best. May not be perfect. but at least no ill intention. and he has kept his ‘honor’.(hope he talks less nowadays, but he needs publicity and at the forefront to get a new job, just like any of us, working people). Opinion on BRwill always spilt, but what good would it serve us, by going back. (we have seen real dark ages under RH, and Hicks and Gillette). and with Klopp in charge, I just feel lots and lots of positive vibes…let’s stay 100% behind the team, for the future.
thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
Sean your being a Rodgers apologist is clouding your judgement, like the small number of Rodgers apologist’s out there you are not willing to recognise the fact that Suarez made the difference (and not Rodgers as you seem to be suggesting.)
if it was Rodgers ….why couldn’t he replicate the performance in the new season……don’t know?….well let me give you a clue he let Suarez go and spent millions on mediocre players, and in case you were not aware Rodgers was fired for poor results after throwing millions away.
Cant work the forums out either I see…….one day you may be lucky enough to realise that whether you like it or not and whether or not you agree, forums are there for people to express opinions ….its quite simple really
In answer to your question, if you are setting the bar at Garcia: Henderson (bizarrely underrated in my view), Coutinho, Sturridge if he ever plays again, possibly Firmino, possibly Can, possibly someone else who no more stands out at 21 than Carra. In fact, if Garcia is the bar then Lucas also.
Three questions back.
1. How is anyone supposed to make a proper judgement on the defence as a whole until we get a proper keeper?
2. What other clubs in England with their two best players, two other strikers, and 3 centre backs out injured and their captain far from fit would you expect to look like a decent and balanced squad? Even at their best, Man City have struggled to cope without Aguero and Kompany alone.
3. Are we really going to place reaching the Carling Cup ahead of BR leading us to within a bee’s dick and a Steven Gerrard mis-trap of the title against a team which officially cheated? If not, I suggest we throw away this ‘he didn’t when a thing’ stick – plenty of other sticks.
“leading us to within a bee’s dick”
Best thing I’ve read on the internet in 2016.
Bees Dick or I5 points adrift it’s still failure
win a thing
Well written piece. Summed it all up nicely.
I like Sakho but he has been really ropey since coming back last month, although I thought he was decent against United.
There’s been loads of injuries to vital players but we’ve still spent hundreds of millions of £s and everyone who started in red last night struggled to pass or even control the football (Flanagan’s excused for obvious reasons). It was mind bogglingly abysmal. Terrible first half and somehow even worse when they came back out till Benteke came on and just gave us a body to help us get out.
Also, Mark Hughes is an excuse-making wet wipe who’ll never win anything as a manager. If Stoke were that good they’d have beaten a pitiful Liverpool who couldn’t play football by 2 or 3 like West Ham, Watford and Newcastle have (and not needed an offside goal to take it to extra time and pens). If they’d have played as well as we did at their place in the first leg they would have won comfortably, but they didn’t and so deserved to go out.
It could have easily been 3-0.
Most interesting part of this is the comment that seems to say opposition players like to see Sakho on the team sheet and that he thought of as a bit of a pussy…and possibly not quite as good as some like to convince themselves that he is.
He wrote something similar about Skrtel not long ago.. confusion much?
Maybe they’re both not great…
Seems harsh on Sakho.. he’s like 6 years younger than Skrtel and is already a better footballer than Skrtel ever will be. Guess time will tell whether he’s a great defender too.
I may be wrong, but I think he’s engaging in a little ironic speculation. He’s wondering whether in a few years time we’ll find out that players feel the same way about Sakho as they do about Skrtl.
I’d put Lucas far above Garcia in my list of memorable Liverpool players. Garcia scored a few wonder goals and seems like a nice fella, but to be honest he was woefully ineffective most of the time.
I also think Henderson will be fondly remembered. Whether he’ll end up in the “legend” or “unsung” category remains to be seen.
Coutinho, undoubtedly, is a potential legend. Still room for improvement, but has what it takes.
Sturridge will almost certainly end up in the Torres category of unfulfilled potential. Plenty of memorable moments, but it could have been so much more, if only …
Torres. Unfulfilled potential?
This team could really do with a proper pre-season under Jurg coz they’ve looked out of steam since December. The first 2 months when Klopp’s record was great to now, the difference was they were running everywhere back then
A few good attacking signings, more fitness and more pace in the team and we’ll improve loads
“Never before has a Liverpool team as limited as this been able to move itself into a position where it needs to win only one game to win a trophy.”
What about the Liverpool team that actually reached the finals for both the League Cup and the F.A. Cup in 2012?
GK: Reina, in decline.
LB: Jose Enrique
CB: Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel
RB: Glen Johnson
CM: Jay Spearing and Jordan Henderson
AM: Stevie G
LW: Craig Bellamy, in decline
RW: Stewart Downing, finishing up a disappointing season in which he contributed all of two assists (both in a loss against QPR)
CF: Luis Suarez, coming off of the statistically worst season he had with the club
I struggle to see how either Simon Mignolet or Alberto Moreno are inferior to Pepe (at that time in his career) or Jose Enrique, respectively. I’d take Flano over Johnson any day of the week. I loved Jay Spearing’s heart, but he was hardly the better of either Allen, Can, or Lucas. I’d also take Milner over Bellamy at that point, and I’ll happily take Lallana over Downing.
If you shift to the League Cup Final versus Cardiff City, you get to throw Charlie Adam in the mix against either Hendo or your choice of Allen, Can, or Lucas. No thanks. You also get to wonder whether Andy Carroll would do better than Christian Benteke. Sure, Andy had great scoring form in the F.A. Cup tournament and was almost the hero against Chelsea, but his goals total for 2011-12 in all competitions was just three more than Benteke’s tally in just the League thus far.
The bottom line being that 2011-12 Cup Finalist squads may have boasted two very special players, but their sum total at the time was – in my humble opinion – not better than that of the current one. You only have to go back and see that the scoring woes back then were even worse. At his 20-game mark in that season, Luis Suarez boasted the same number of goals as Christian Benteke does at the same period. The midfielder scoring woes were just as bad. On the other hand, you expect Bobby Firmino to increase his tally as he gels more with the squad. You expect Phil Coutinho to continue scoring at the same rate, and to increase his assists as he and his compatriot link up better. So on, so forth.
excellent player by player comparison. Enjoyed reading that. (but in the end I forgot what point you were trying to make, so had to ‘re read the top. cheers :)
They’ve added a Klopp emoticon to Skype!
I am surprised that Google has not started JK special themed art work yet. (whenever we open the search engine. same slow…Skype/Microsoft is faster??).
Maybe iPhone 7, Klopp Edition?…
“Sakho has many supporters, those who will counter-argue this suggestion aggressively, probably using statistics to try to make sense of their own thoughts.
These folk have infiltrated the stadium on match days, too, screeching Sakho’s surname whenever he recovers one of his mistakes in a manner that is just as desperate as it is dramatic and committed.”
With the general lack of atmosphere and noise at the ground the last thing that should be criticized is people singing and getting behind one of our players, whether you think they deserve it or not.
I like the choice of words here:”There are bonus points for his charity work, of course, though it counts for little when results are at stake.”, how often has Sakho been the main reason Liverpool have dropped points? Not many. Thats the only stat I use to “Make sense of whats going on in my head”.
I dont particularly rate Sakho highly but I’ve learnt to take the good with the bad because if we are all honest and willing to open our eyes to see whats going on these days we’ll see that there aren’t many Alan Hansens kicking about these days. Look at John “Koeman Jr” Stones, even he, with all his elegance on the ball, all his balance, even he costs his team from time to time.
The thing about opposition players being happy to see his name on the teamsheet is going a bit too far.
I doubt most people wouldn’t disagree with this statement “Liverpool do not have a good defence or a good enough goalkeeper”, but it seems unfair of the author to single out Sakho and no one else, and then try to prevent being challenged on this by caricaturing his “supporters” in belittling terms.
And while he is disparaging of using statistics, the fact that the case against Sakho is founded on conjecture of what opposition players privately say and think about him is just as baseless an argument.
The irony is that Liverpool played far better, far more blood and thunder, against Chelsea in the semi-final last season. Had Costa been sent off for that stamp, perhaps that rub of the green would have made the difference. Credit to Rodgers for getting that level of performance from a side that had struggled mightily to click earlier in the season.
But what a difference to actually make the final!
Brenda, er Walter, you trolling on here again?
as per usual