SOMETIMES players’ performances over a period of time can burn your head out – and from that point onwards the smallest mistake can frustrate the life out of you.
Even if they do something good, you feel like the bad is around the corner. And when it comes it merely confirms something you had long since decided: that they’re not good enough.
Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet had reached that point with a significant number of Liverpool fans – a number that swelled as Sunday’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur played out.
It seems that for every great Mignolet save, there’s a flap at a ball coming into the box or a dropped catch. For the positive of a last-minute Lovren winner against Borussia Dortmund, there’s the negative of a wild attempt at a clearance or a lapse in concentration which puts the team under pressure and the goal at risk.
No matter how much we see of the good, a feeling the bad is sneaking up with both Mignolet and Lovren haunts many of the Red hordes. Those players have lost any leeway as a result.
It can frustrate then when Jürgen Klopp praises the qualities of these players. Why the comments in the summer about there not being five players that could improve us at centre half when Lovren appears to be struggling with the task of playing for Liverpool?
Likewise for Mignolet. Let’s not forget that it was only just over a year ago that Klopp signed Loris Karius for around £5million from Mainz and made it clear that the German would be his new number one.
A broken finger stopped that becoming immediately true but the 24-year-old stopper was still thrown straight into the fold at a time when Mignolet hadn’t done much wrong.
Unfortunately for Karius, and Klopp, he didn’t take his chance and Mignolet was brought back in. Admittedly, the Belgian strung together a series of good performances towards the back end of last season but plenty remained unconvinced.
Klopp showed a lack of faith in Mignolet in the first place by bombing him out for a young lad with no Premier League experience. A U-turn on that decision always looked risky. And so it has proved.
The way the manager has dealt with the goalkeeping situation has left a void of uncertainty around three players in a key position. Not allowing Danny Ward to go on loan to Huddersfield in summer before handing him just a single start so far this season doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in hindsight.
But it is not only in the goalkeeping department where Klopp has flip flopped on faith.
To make Virgil van Dijk the club’s top target in the summer, and for it to fail so publicly, must have made Lovren believe that his place was under threat. Since then though Klopp has suggested that no alternatives were better or obtainable.
Whether or not he thought he could train Lovren into becoming a better player, it was negligent of him to believe that the same problems wouldn’t continue to occur with the same back four that made so many errors last season.
That defence may have helped to deliver a top-four spot and finished the season as statistically the fifth best defence in the league but there were enough hairy moments to suggest changes were needed.
That’s part of the issue with Alberto Moreno. Despite the fact he seems to have turned it around recently, and deserves to be praised for his hard work in doing so, he burnt out heads in the 2016 Europa League final and at the start of last season to such an extent that he was bombed out for the majority of the rest of the campaign — making just two starts in the league.
Are we really to believe he doesn’t have those rash moments in his locker?
Klopp hasn’t been afraid to get rid of players when they have consistently flattered to deceive. Christian Benteke and Jordon Ibe were quickly identified as a poor fit for his plans and moved on. What was it specifically about those two players that made him think he couldn’t persevere with them, and why does he think he can with these players who are proving detrimental to Liverpool’s chances of success?
Lovren and Mignolet have cost The Reds on numerous occasions before. It’s difficult to believe they won’t do it again. The club have improved in other key areas but they’ll struggle to be successful if they don’t address their biggest weakness.
With Benteke and Ibe, Klopp showed that he can be ruthless with players who don’t aid the cause or fit his vision. It’s time for similar ruthlessness to return.
The current situation at Liverpool was discussed at length on our Overview show — SUBSCRIBE to TAW Player to listen to that and get 40 plus podcasts about Liverpool FC every month. A subscription also gives you access to our podcast archive – here are some of the highlights so far…