In the last month or so I have been wondering if Jurgen Klopp has this belief that he can’t be sacked at Liverpool. That he is either extremely confident or very arrogant to have such a belief – if he indeed does.
It has been clear to most who have watched Liverpool under Klopp right from the middle of last season to this present stage of this, that they seem a very poorly coached side defensively – a very polite way of describing it in truth.
Liverpool are the second most successful football club in England – historically – and their fan base is huge worldwide despite the fact the club have not finished top of English football since the summer of 1990. It will amount to staggering levesl of foolishness if Klopp thinks he is sack-proof or that his job is secure no matter what.
The club spent most of the summer transfer window chasing after Virgil van Dijk of Southampton without success. Watching the team I am certain that van Dijk was not going to change the way they defend.
I can never shake off that image during the 2013/14 season when Man United were losing yet another home game and the camera panned to the home bench. To where David Moyes, Steve Round and the others that Moyes brought with him huddled together plotting God knows what. It struck me immediately that there was no way the United players on the pitch could possibly look over to that bench to derive inspiration.
The current Liverpool is well short on leaders right across the team especially with James Milner now a bit part player. So when things start to go wrong – like the start of the second half in Sevilla – there is no one to pull the players together.
Jordan Henderson is a determined and quite adequate a midfielder but his game is not so great that he can lead a team like Liverpool on big European nights.
The team lacks a deep lying playmaker/experienced midfielder, the type who likes to get his foot on the ball, pass it, get it back and just recycle possession in a way that knocks the stuffing out of opponents who are chasing a goal. Precisely what was needed at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Offensively you can see what Klopp wants his team to do: the pace of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah allied with the trickery and inventiveness of Coutinho and Firmino cause mayhem for opposition defences. Football also has defensive side and this is where one struggles to understand how a team with lofty ambitions can be so shambolic. The heavy defeat at Man City could be excused because of Mane’s early red card but even then you did not see a reaction by the manager to keep shape and try to keep the score down. At Wembley Vs Spurs, it was just schoolboys stuff.
It is easy to point fingers at players who have made individual errors like Dejan Lovren being dreadfully off form against Spurs and then Alberto Moreno at Sevilla in midweek. However, that will be scratching the surface. The root of the problem lies in a manager who is showing an inability to understand completely that he needs to have a balanced team.
“Gegenpressing” is all well and good when the team is winning. Shipping goals at the rate Liverpool seem to be doing this season needs to be stopped and that starts with the visit of Chelsea at the weekend. The comparisons between Klopp and the man he replaced, Brendan Rodgers do not show marked improvements really. The German needs to sort this out and quickly, otherwise he might not be in this job come the start of next season.