Liverpool fans witnessed their worst performance under manager Jürgen Klopp on Saturday. The Reds were embarrassed 5-0 away to Manchester City, and despite a controversial sending off decision, were outclassed for much of the game. Defending was once again a serious problem as City ran riot, their forwards losing their markers and playing around the Liverpool back line far too easily.
Pressure Mounting on Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool
Despite much of his recent success at the club, Klopp should be under more pressure than he currently he is. His defensive tactics and transfer policy over the summer have been frustrating to say the least. Whilst dismissing the German just four league games into the season would be silly, he is getting off lightly considering the last few months he has had.
In his second full season in charge at the club, he has been stubborn when addressing the team’s weaknesses, especially in defence. Heading into the summer transfer window, the main area of concern was at the back. Despite qualifying for the Champions League last season, Liverpool shipped 42 goals, the most amongst the top four teams. The Reds have failed to concede fewer than 40 goals in a season since the 2009/10 season, yet this issue still has not been addressed.
Klopp has failed to deal with this time and again during his reign at Anfield. In the summer, Liverpool made Southampton centre-back Virgil Van Dijk their number one target to help solve their problems at the back, but following the saga over the club’s approach to signing him, any chances of a deal being struck were scuppered. The key issue with here is not that the club failed to sign the Dutchman, but the failure to identify alternative targets, with Klopp instead claiming “I don’t see it [the defence] as a concern.”
The manager’s selection choices this season have not got the best out of the team. Whilst the addition of teenage stalet Trent Alexander-Arnold has proven to be a good move in the absence of Nathaniel Clyne, other lineup decisions have been puzzling.
Joe Gomez, who has filled in at right-back twice this season, is naturally a centre-back. Having performed well in his two appearances and helped the side secure back-to-back clean sheets, Gomez seems an ideal option to fill in alongside Joel Matip in the Liverpool back four. Despite encouraging signs from the youngster, Klopp still appears to favour Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren at centre-back.
After a season of James Milner playing at left-back, the side looked to have found a long-term solution at the position when they signed former Hull City defender Andrew Robertson. Despite Hull being sent back down to the Championship last season, Robertson proved a bright spark in the side and has even impressed at international level for Scotland this season, including scoring against Lithuania last week. The 23 year-old looks to be the complete package and has the neccessary skills both defensively and going forward.
Despite this, Robertson has started just one game for Liverpool and has been left out of the squad at the expense of Alberto Moreno, who was benched for Milner last season. Whether it’s a question of maturity, these selection choices have certainly not helped the manager’s cause.
Liverpool have for the most part been heading in the right direction since Klopp took over, but the German has failed to work on obvious weaknesses in the side. Whilst calling for him to be sacked is clearly a stretch too far at this point, it is time for him to learn from his mistakes or things will not continue to get better.
Embed from Getty Images