18 Jan 2016

'Discipline' Problem: Liverpool Legend blames £60k-a-week LFC star for Man Utd defeat. Fair?

Another day, another goal conceded from a set-piece. It's an ongoing problem for Liverpool, and at Anfield on Sunday, Manchester United easily exploited this defensive weakness and went home with all three points. Liverpool have now conceded eleven set-piece goals in the league this season (40% of all goals conceded) and more often than not, Simon Mignolet is the culprit. Not this time, though, and according to LFC legend Ray Houghton, the blame lies with Jurgen Klopp, and one of the club's most experienced players.

Analysing Liverpool's defeat on LFC.com, Ray Houghton urged Klopp to prioritise set-piece improvement 'daily in training', and suggested that organisation and discipline need to improve on the field. He noted:

"Lucas was marking Rooney, but for some unknown reason he wants to get involved in the cross, so he leaves his man. It’s ill discipline, and it’s happening too many times. They [the players] are not doing their jobs in defensive positions".

In my view, the root cause of the set-piece issue is a fatal lack of leadership on the field, particularly in defence. Who is taking charge at corners and free-kicks? Who is ordering players to stay in position and/or checking to make sure posts are covered (another rudimentary organisation issue that has cost Liverpool this season).

Prior to the Man United corner, *someone* should've impressed upon Lucas* the importance of sticking with Rooney (one of the Premier League's most prolific goalscorers) The Brazilian is an experienced player, but nothing should be taken for granted.

At every set-piece, it should be someone's responsibility to step-up and organise, and whatever the designated player says should be adhered to without question (as if he's an extension of the manager).

The problem is, Liverpool don't appear to have any dominant personalities on the field. There's no Roy Keane/Jamie Carragher-type player, i.e someone who doesn't care about putting noses out of joint, and is confident enough to bark orders at big egos. Being nice and genteel doesn't cut it, especially when it's costing the club a chance at Champions League football.

Obviously, it doesn't when the back four have to tolerate a panic-inducing goalkeeper, but that doesn't excuse the lack of leadership and organisation in defence. It's a major issue, and it won't be fixed until Liverpool have a dominant personality in the team *and* the club finally replaces Sami Hyppia.

Hyypia left in 2009, but almost seven years later, the Big Finn's imperious aerial ability is still missed at Anfield, and the Man United goal proved this yet again. FOUR Liverpool players challenged Fellaini in the air (Sakho, Toure, Henderson, and Lucas), and not one of them got anywhere near the ball.

That is a prime example of players 'not doing their jobs in defensive positions'.

* Reportedly on £60k-a-week

Author: Jaimie K


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