18 Oct 2016

'He Had Problems': Klopp explains €44m Liverpool star's poor performance vs. Man United

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has (indirectly) defended Emre Can's sub-par performance against Manchester United.

When asked after the game if the absence of Lallana and Wijnaldum contributed to Liverpool's disarray in midfield, Klopp told Sky Sports:

"We had rhythm and pattern [with Lallana and Wijnaldum}, and of course we had to change. Emre couldn’t train the last two days because he had back problems, and he missed very important sessions after the international break".

To be fair to Can, he'd just returned from injury, but his poor touch and sluggishness slowed Liverpool down in midfield, especially in the first half, where he gave the ball away numerous times. Additionally, it was maddening to see Can playing in a more advanced role than Henderson, who is infinitely more creative than Can.

Playing higher up the field means Can has more creative decisions to make, and that spells trouble. As a holding midfielder, his options are simple: protect the back four, and make simple passes to players more capable of dictating play (Hendo) or starting attacks (Coutinho).

Can has a tendency to over-elaborate, and there was one instance in the game when he received the ball midway in Liverpool's half, and tried a pointless step-over trick, which caused him to stumble over the ball. It's this kind of ego-driven embellishment that leads to Can losing the ball in dangerous areas.

In my view, Klopp failed to play to Coutinho and Henderson's strengths last night; he basically neutered their effectiveness, which had a negative impact on the team's overall performance. I genuinely believe that Liverpool would've beaten Man United if Henderson and Can had switched roles, and Coutinho had played further forward from the start.

Can needs to be converted into a dedicated DM/holding midfielder, and if he's too undisciplined to play that role, then Klopp should be ruthless and get rid of him.

^ Can: €44m-rated (CIES Football Observatory).


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