3 Nov 2016

Legend insists: £20m Liverpool star is 'error-prone' and fails at leadership 'authority'. Harsh or fair?

Newcastle legend Shaka Hislop has criticised Liverpool's lack of leadership 'personality' in defence.

Discussing Liverpool's defensive unit this week, Hislop told ESPN:

"There are no dominant personalities in [Liverpool's] back five. It should be Lovren, but he’s so error-prone that I don’t think anyone takes any authority from him. That’s not Matip’s personality either, and every great back line needs that".

Labelling Lovren^ 'error prone' is, perhaps, a little unfair. Yes, he made two mistakes against Crystal Palace, but apart from those, he has been error free for months.

Liverpool do lack leadership at the back, though. Matip appears to lead by example, which is great, but there's no 'dominant personality' like John Terry, Tony Adams, or Jamie Carragher in the team, and as Hislop suggests, the majority of great defences have such a player.

Liverpool arguably need a nasty (in football terms), mouthy organiser in the team; someone who isn't afraid to put noses out of joint; constantly demands the highest standards, and moans at the players on the field when required. Lovren, Henderson et al are too busy fawning over each other and massaging each others' egos to play that role.

Unfortunately, I don't actually believe a player like that can thrive in a Klopp team. The German has a paternalistic hold on the players (and the fans), and from what I've seen, the players have to be subservient and compliant to the manager, or face the (sometimes unfair) consequences.

This is reflected in the type of players Klopp has signed so far: quiet, unassuming, and totally lacking in fiery leadership drive and/or onfield presence. A Keane/Terry-type player means having a dominant personality in the squad on the same level as Klopp; a player unafraid to speak his mind, and in my view, Klopp won't allow that.

Klopp is creating a homogenised unit at Anfield; a team full of metrosexually meek and impeccably moisturised automatons, who thrive on hugs, constant validation, and Nivea adverts. This is not an environment where old-school leaders can thrive (which is Liverpool's loss), but to be fair, it's an approach that appears to be working (for now).

Ultimately, football is a results business, so whatever the approach, Klopp deserves credit for the current 11-game unbeaten run, and if his approach leads to success later down the line, then the apparent lack of 'dominant personalities' will become a moot point.

That said, without a bona fide leader on the pitch, I personally can't see Liverpool achieving long-term success under Klopp.

^ Lovren: Cost Liverpool £20m.


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