I’M all for perseverance.
I’d have given Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benitez and Kenny Dalglish more time, I’d probably still give Fab Aurelio another contract and I’m still convinced Alberto Aquilani might have made it had he not been sent on loan.
Alright, maybe scrub the last one.
But as stubborn as I am, sometimes you’ve got to accept that changes need to be made before it’s too late.
After an imperious run of form where Liverpool, bar a fluke against Chelsea, have vanquished all before them of late, Liverpool have dropped four points in four days in two absolutely winnable fixtures, and both times Liverpool’s changes from the bench have been too little, too late.
Earlier in the week, bringing on Roberto Firmino for Mo Salah cost The Reds vital impetus, not to disparage the Brazilian, but the nature of the change effected Liverpool’s threat on the counter and encouraged Everton to push on.
That Jürgen Klopp was readying Phil Coutinho when Craig Pawson awarded Everton a penalty is by the bye, Everton felt emboldened enough to push where earlier they’d cowed.
And when Coutinho was finally introduced he wasn’t allowed enough time to impact proceedings.
Klopp and his attitude to substitutions, or rather the late use of them, is nothing new. The ever excellent Andrew Beasley wrote in detail about the manager’s attitude towards substitutions over his entire time at Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool up until last November when said article was published.
And as history has dictated, tonight, yet again, in a game crying out for an injection of exuberance or a change of angle, it was left until the last 14 minutes of the match.
But, in contrast to the changes against Everton, the introduction of Dom Solanke and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reinvigorated The Reds who suddenly carried a semblance of threat against West Brom but fell short with The Baggies on the ropes — given just enough time to survive.
The manager talks and talks about rhythm, but this also matters on the pitch, especially when making a slew of changes at the same time.
That Liverpool haven’t scored in the last 10 minutes of a game at Anfield all season and in that period have dropped eight points which, having drawn half their home games this season, should set alarm bells ringing — especially given the high-octane approach that Klopp is famous for.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but it is not the responsibility of the opposition to allow Liverpool to play the way they want too. It is upon Liverpool to force their will, but when trying and trying again isn’t working we need quicker, better and more effective solutions off the bench.
“…very frustrating. It’s probably our worst performance of the season.” 😩
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 13 December 2017