ARE you over Monday night yet? No, me neither. In my piece last week I wrote about how I only tend to let bad results upset for a day or so nowadays, but that one is still lingering. I’ve been trying to figure out why and I’m fairly certain it’s for three reasons.
The first is the sheer, infuriating predictability of the match. Not just the outcome, which was clear as soon as Leicester scored, but the way we played. The Foxes entire game plan revolved around trying to cause us problems from set-pieces and throw-ins because they’ve got massive grocks who play at centre-half, so why were we crossing the ball into their box repeatedly?
Jamie Vardy is fast. Like him or loathe him, he’s made a career out of running in behind defences when his teammates play a long ball in behind, so why did we play such a suicidally high-line? Especially considering that Lucas Leiva, for all of his good qualities, has a change of pace that is from slow to stop. It was one of the most brainless performances I can remember for some time.
The second reason is that it’s the first time I’ve found myself questioning Jürgen Klopp. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s the right manager for us and I’m confident that we’ll win things under his management. But if we’re going to do that then the German needs to show that he can learn from his mistakes. I was thinking that we haven’t improved at all in that sort of game since Burnley away earlier in the season, then I listened to The Pink and Adam Melia made the point that it was similar to Watford away last season.
Klopp knows more about football than I ever will, but his tactics here didn’t make any sense to me. The problem with the way he’s setting up the team is that everyone needs to play well or else we’ll struggle. We can’t depend on a player to dig us out like Chelsea do with Diego Costa, Spurs do with Harry Kane and Manchester United do with the officials. We’re only as strong as our weakest link and at the moment it feels as though there are weak links all over the place.
Which brings me nicely to reason number three.
Why is it that when we suffer a bad result like that everyone decides to throw the baby out with the bathwater? It’s been really bothering me this week, as we all dissect what happened at the King Power.
Earlier on in the season James Milner was up there as one of the best left-backs in the league. I accept that he’s been out of form since the middle of December, but to suddenly start slating Klopp for ‘playing a midfielder in defence’ ignores the fact that it worked brilliantly for a good few months.
Equally Lucas was superb against Tottenham before he was substituted off. I’m not his biggest fan by any stretch of the imagination, yet he had Kane in his back pocket, which is no mean feat against one of the best attackers in the league right now. It was hardly the worst decision of Klopp’s career to give him another chance against Leicester after that performance. It was the system that was the issue, not the player.
Perhaps most ludicrously of all, I’ve seen some people attacking Jordan Henderson after the result on Monday. Personally I’d have thought that that performance and result would be enough to finally persuade his doubters of exactly what he brings to the team, but apparently it showed that he lacks leadership and is only an ‘average player’ not fit to wear the armband. I mean, come on!
I understand that there’s a need to find scapegoats after such a depressing result. I’ve quite obviously done the same thing myself. To an extent that’s totally fair. There were far too many average performances against the Foxes and both players and manager are deserving of criticism. What bothers me is the complete re-writing of history.
Suddenly Gini Wijnaldum, who scored against Manchester City and Chelsea, goes missing in the big games. Nathaniel Clyne, who is first and foremost a defender and is arguably the second-best right-back in the league, isn’t good enough. Roberto Firmino? Shite. As for Klopp, he hasn’t got a clue. He’s achieved nothing and hasn’t proved a thing since he’s been at Liverpool. He can’t even win the bloody League Cup!
None of that is to excuse the performance or the result. Neither were good enough and it’s right that we ask serious questions. But those questions need to be sensible. It doesn’t make sense to suggest that the same team that remains the highest scoring one in the Premier League and were involved in a title challenge until the turn of the year is suddenly full of no-marks who need to be shipped out.
We need to improve our defence, that much is self-evident. No one would object to the signing of a 20-plus goals per season striker. We could obviously do with a player who can fulfil Henderson’s role in Klopp’s preferred 4-3-3 if the captain is absent. All of that is totally fair and completely true.
What we can’t do, what makes no sense whatsoever to me, is to decide that the entire squad needs to be scrapped every time we lose a game. Monday’s loss was extraordinarily frustrating for a bagful of reasons, but it wasn’t a sign that the club is suddenly populated with dross.
Loris Karius may or may not the long-term solution in goal, I have no idea. What I do know is that Simon Mignolet is definitely not the answer. Maybe Alberto Moreno will offer us more going forward than Milner, but he’s also a liability at the back. To suggest that the Belgian or the Spaniard are the answers to our problems is to engage in a case of group amnesia that asks us all to forget the countless mistakes they’ve made in the past. Equally to say that Emre Can’s performance was excellent at the King Power because of his second-half contribution ignores the fact that he was the invisible man during the first 45.
Liverpool’s squad is evidently not good enough to compete for the title just yet, but neither is it full of relegation candidates. It’s definitely true that Klopp needs to learn from his mistakes sooner rather than later, but so do we as supporters. The Reds are not a team of world beaters but they’re also not talentless hacks. The sooner we can all look at the season as a whole and respond appropriately to setbacks the sooner it will be that we can move forward together.
No more throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Whoa, hold on there a sec.
When we didn’t bring in a left back in the summer and it was starting to become clear that he was gonna use Milner there many were warning that that could be a problem later in the season. No one was doubting he could “do a job” there but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thought he could fill that spot long term. It worked for less than half a season.
When we had Matip, Sakho, Lovren, Klavan and Gomez as centreback options no one thought Lucas would ever see a game at centreback.
Love the guy but he’s so slow. Klopp ostracised Sakho before the window was shut and Gomez was out long term so that left 3 centrebacks with question marks hanging over all 3. We’re now in a position were Lucas is ahead of 2 of those centrebacks. It’s bizarre!
While Wij can put in 8 outta 10 performances he can also put in 3 outta 10.
When we play well he plays well. When we play poor he plays poor. I’ve yet to see him play a good match while those round him struggle. Where’s the mental strength?!
This not knee jerk. Out of the 11 that started on Monday night I believe at least 4 should not be starters and 2 of them should be sold.
We are simply not good enough to compete over a season.
4 good months at the start of the season is not enough.
Said it better than I did to be fair mate. :)
I think it’s more to do with the fact we struggle to beat teams who are in the bottom three of the table. Burnley, Swansea, Bournemouth and now Leicester. I admit Leicesters squad are a lot better than the other three and have seriously under performed this season but still, the table never lies.
We knew Leicester would play the way they did, they’ve sacked their manager and put on a performance. The way the players lied down and didn’t start playing until 3-0 down is more about their mentality than their skill sets.
Who was the leader Monday night? Who was dictating play and making things happen?
We’re throwing money at these players and yet wasn’t one of Brendan’s first jobs when he came in was to clear out the higher earned salaries who were costing us too much money for a 7th place finish every season.
I see the same mistakes happening again.
Unless we’re prepared to throw the money at world class players who have proved themselves, i’m not sure where I see Liverpool heading.
It would be nice for FSG to come out and say something to appease the fans or perhaps change their transfer policy.
Would any Liverpool fan say no to Joe Hart coming in? or even a £80m bid for Sergio Aguero?
How about the squad isn’t the best obviously or the worst… how about it is what it is. One or two very good players who can be frustratingly inconsistent Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana, to a lesser extent Henderson and Mane and then rather too many decidedly average ones? The real result of which and pretty much what we are witnessing now is one or two of the aforementioned having an off day and it affecting the average players around them. In much the same way one or two of the above having a great day which can and does happen and it having a positive effect on the average players within the squad. Just a thought but I can’t help thinking all of our issues lead back to the same place; lack of quality in depth in the squad. Not blaming anyone for it because that’s cause for another debate but it is what I think we are witnessing. A better squad (better options following injury to others) would leave us far more likely to cope rather than there being a stack of cards effect like that of the past month or so. To counter the obvious; Yes we went on a good run but that was towards the start of the season and still contained unusual results even though most first team options were fit and healthy. Just as United went on a bad run to begin with, god and bad runs happen and aren’t really an indication of anything… it’s overwhelming good or bad over the course of an entire season that truly indicates the positive or negative to which you might respond this season is not over… Good point,, but do you or anyone else really see/believe we’ll be too far away from where we finished last season in May?
I’m amazed you think Clyne is the second best right back in the league. Better than Walker, Bellerin, Valencia, Azpilcueta (ok, playing on the right of a 3 but still a far better right back). I think there are others too. All opinions, but I think Clyne is very average. I feel his attacking play is atrocious.
Anyone criticising Henderson is a fool. That’s not down to opinion.
Firmino can be a brilliant player but the fact is we never know which Firmino we’ll see. Always works hard, granted, but is that enough? It’s getting to the point where I’d say he’s done well in 50% of his games and been poor in 50%. I’m not going to compare him to Suarez but for someone in his role we need someone who, like Suarez, plays well in north of 85% of games. Wijnaldum’s performance rate is possibly even lower. Can too. Add Lucas with the latter two. Mignolet at 70% perhaps. Matip looks wank, for me, without a decent centre half next to him (which is excusable). Lovren another who’s decent 60% of the time, if he’s actually playing. Milner similar at 60%. Klavan 50%.
One might argue the system is doing this to them, I don’t know but I think we need more players like Henderson, Gerrard and Suarez in our first 11. Players you know are going to fight for everything and throughout a season be good for 85% of games. Look at Leicester the other night. One can blame the system and one can blame Klopp but the reality is those players didn’t want it enough. It’s great when everything’s going well and we’re winning but can we realistically expect to win anything with these players? I think we can but we clearly have holes to fill and those holes need filling with the right ‘type’ now and that’s attitude as much as aptitude.
I’d go as far as to say we need a centre half more than we need a keeper. Possibly 2.
The thing here is that Klopp has consistently wringed performances from this squad, last season and this, that exceed the actual sum of the parts. He’s made them over-perform, and when they under-perform, it looks dreadful. The manager definitely needs to show greater tactical flexibility and nous before and during games, including with substitutions, but going with youth in the main isn’t the worst idea. But we need a nailed-on, they shall not pass, teak-tough and speedy as anything central defender (or two?), preferably Italian; a goalkeeper who more or less does the same thing and has the same attitude; a dynamic defensive central midfielder who doesn’t mind getting gnarly; and a striker who just keeps banging them in.
Sounds simple, but every side is more or less shopping for the same personnel. It will take some serious savvy, and a bit of stealth, and maybe we might land a few of them. What I dread is word of a player having been ‘identified’ as a transfer target (usually, curiously enough, in the aftermath of a defeat), everyone gets their PlayStation out and decide he’s the best thing since Maradona, and then we don’t sign him. I’d rather we kept silent and just did the business. Big, big window coming up, and JK certainly needs to accept that while plan A is always the best plan, there are alternative ways to win and we need to deploy them, as and when necessary.
why attack away from home,if the home team wants to defend so what,we be 4 points better off;mybe more,go boring way,pick them off.now i get a hammering,hahahahahhahha
‘Perhaps most ludicrously of all, I’ve seen some people attacking Jordan Henderson after the result on Monday. Personally I’d have thought that that performance and result would be enough to finally persuade his doubters of exactly what he brings to the team, but apparently it showed that he lacks leadership and is only an ‘average player’ not fit to wear the armband. I mean, come on!’
If anything, our pitiful performance in his absence should enhance his reputation, so I’m surprised to hear people were slating him. I have only visited this and no other football site whatsoever since Monday, so I wouldn’t know.
The skipper is one of our only proper leaders. He does the things winning footballers do i.e. confront opponents, call for throws that obviously aren’t ours, gets pissed of with failure and muscles players off the ball. Essentially everything that was missing from Monday night.
My head still hasn’t recovered from the game. It’s been a very long time since it’s taken me this long to get over it. I don’t even know what Jurgen said post-game because I’d long since stormed off. I have no idea what anyone has said about the game. It was a perfect storm for me. That twat assistant manager of theirs, conceding two goals to Jamie Vardy, getting out-fought falling for their dead obvious tactics as though it was some masterplan.
“We can’t depend on a player to dig us out like Chelsea do with Diego Costa, Spurs do with Harry Kane and Manchester United do with the officials.” Nice one Adam.
Re our current crop of players, it’s no longer about scapegoating at least it’s how I see it. The average fan (me included) is looking at the games we’ve consistently lost to opposition, that we know will set up the way they do, has us asking questions about what is going on with that and with other issues like poor planning for extended run of games, no winter break, injuries, etc.
Your article makes me think back as to why clubs like Chelsea, Inter, etc, offload players like Coutinho, Sturridge, Firmino, Gini,Clyne, etc, when we seem to think these players are geniuses, for a brief stretch of games or the one or two off games that they burn brightly in? Are those clubs really foolish to have done so or have we been? Those clubs have their reasons and may even be laughing at us knowing they haven’t really looked back with any fondness or regret since offloading these players.
So LFC buys, and continue to buy and take risks with, average players, who are either injury prone, or are not consistent, or require a great supporting cast to function well. Players like Gini, Firmino, Mane, Milner, Moreno, Clyne, Lovren for example seem to do well with a reboot once in a while, like when a new manager comes in. Some life is breathed into the team, different tactics, etc, works for some time. Then when the intensity increases, the team and the manager go missing, whether it is a final of a cup match, beating “lesser” teams, etc.
Since you also mentioned Lucas, like some of the other players I think he also needs to be shipped out this summer. He did his job against Spurs, and I saw nothing “superb” about it. That’s what you are expected to do when you play professional football and getting paid a lot of money for it. But I feel this “superb” one-off games, has given Lucas carte blanche support from fans, maybe because he has been loyal to LFC. If he really cared about his playing career, he would have moved himself on to a club that could help him develop into the wonderful player he once demonstrated he could be in his heydays. However with his current type of performances, and conditioning he has become a has-been, scapegoat like you are stating.
Do you think Lucas would have lasted as much as he did at Chelsea, Spurs, United, City or Arsenal?
As for the need to play Lucas in the first place, I wonder if Klopp had kept Sakho around and worked on whatever it was that made it difficult in the first place to keep him, if they would have been some relief in the defense. It’s hindsight but yes I get it, Sakho fucked up with his disciplinary actions, and often looks like a baby-giraffe learning to walk at times when given a ball to control, but I would also take his fight, and spirit he showed in games compared to the 11 cowards on the field against Leicester on Monday night. Klopp shows great love, hugs and kisses for the 11 cowards, but he decides the bad-boy needed to be sent packing. Sakho is not end all to our defensive problems since Rafa’s management days, but he was still an LFC player that could have helped out.
Liverpool squad is not good enough period and Jurgen’s tactics or instructions or whatever seem to be wasted on these players. Or maybe Jurgen’s tactics or instructions are not working, and these players know it.
So for me, it’s not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It’s about seeing out a whole season with Jurgen at the helm and analyzing each game to see if we made progress or not. And if it’s about moving on the players that Jurgen inherited from past managers who do not fit the level needed to address the myriad of problems that keep us from competing on multiple fronts. No knee-jerk reaction like you suggest in your article.
I hope whatever approach Jurgen takes after this season, that it will not lead us back here, same time next year, watching reruns of the same film and typing the same articles and comments.
earlier in the season ……blah de blah…earlier in the season I had a unicorn that could shit money…he left for fairyland