28 Jan 2017

Gerrard: Liverpool have 'major problems' because of Klopp's failure to solve 'counter-attacking' issue

Anfield legend Steven Gerrard has questioned Jurgen Klopp's tactical approach in the wake of today's FA Cup debacle against Wolves.

Reacting to Liverpool's 2-1 home defeat, Gerrard warned:

"Liverpool have major problems on the counter attack, and they’re about to play the best counter-attacking team in the league. They need a massive performance against Chelsea"

The counter-attack issue is as clear as day, yet Klopp doesn't seem to have an answer for it, and the disappointing reality is that rival teams have figured out Klopp's one-note 'tactics'. As Shane Long noted after the midweek defeat to Southampton:

"It [beating Liverpool] came from the whole team trying to force them out wide and not letting them make passes through the middle to get one-on-ones with the keeper.”

That's one aspect of it, but combine that with using the high-press, packing central areas, and catching LFC on the break (often after the Reds have overcommitted in attack), and you have a surefire method of getting a result. It's only going to get harder from here; other teams will inevitably employ the same tactics, and unless Klopp can change his approach, fans are in for a disappointing second half of the season.

In my view, what this defeat (and poor run shows) yet again is Klopp's utter negligence in failing to strengthen the team in the right areas, both now, and last summer. Resting players is entirely understandable, but Liverpool just don't have the strength in depth to cover experienced absentees (or injuries).

And again: Klopp knew that he'd lose Mane in January; he knew about Lallana's inconsistency; he's well aware of Sturridge's injury history (and consequent lack of pace), and, as an experienced manager, he knows that the team will suffer injuries (potentially during the arduous winter months).

Despite these things, Klopp still decided to gamble on a thin, unbalanced 'square pegs in round holes' squad, rather than bringing in experienced players in key positions (left-back; DM; wings etc) to bolster the team.

It's great to see young players getting games, and the likes of Ejaria, Woodburn etc cannot (and should not) be blamed for the current downward spiral. However, they are being played because Klopp - through his own lack of foresight - doesn't have any other choice.

In its entire 125 year history, Liverpool have never lost four home games in a row, but if Liverpool lose against high-flying Chelsea on Tuesday, Jurgen Klopp's managerial record will be forever blighted by this ignominious achievement. Can Klopp stop the rot?

For the record, I still believe Liverpool will qualify for the Champions League. If that happens, this season can legitimately be classified as a success, irrespective of poor results like today. As long as this bad run doesn't bleed into the league, the Reds should come out of this slump and consolidate a place in the top four.


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