6 Oct 2017

Guest Article: Jurgen Klopp's accountability for Liverpool's shambolic defence

[AUTHOR: I’m_not_judgernaut] I posted a comment after the Sevilla match, and a couple of you suggested that I submit it as a guest article so that there can be a more direct discussion about the matter, so here it is!

First: I really don't understand the mantra that Alberto Moreno has made significant improvements from last season. He's always been good in attack, but I haven't seen much defensive improvement. He's still rash in the tackle; still gets caught going forward (when he should be focused on spotting defensive danger), and he STILL lunges in and leaves space in behind for opposing players.

I understand that you can't *expect* defenders to stop two-on-ones, but the way Moreno approaches such situations, he may as well not even be on the field. I appreciate Moreno's attacking influence, but there's no way he shouldn’t be starting in big games, and if that’s all he can offer, the best course of action is to sub him on when we’re losing.

For the record, I really do love Jurgen Klopp, and I think he's the highest quality manager we can reasonably attract, but there comes a point where he must start being held accountable by the club's hierarchy for the team's ongoing defensive frailty. Sure, a lot of goals can be attributed to individual errors, but when we consistently away multiple goals like this, there has to be something fundamentally, tactically wrong.

Part of it is due to Liverpool's attacking style, but I don't see other attacking teams (i.e. Real, Bayern, Barca, PSG etc) having the same issues. Would Moreno, Lovren, Matip, and Clyne be regular starters in any of those aforementioned teams, or indeed any top-class side? In my view, Moreno et al would even struggle to get into another top-six Premier League side.

I just find it odd that after four transfer windows, Klopp's solution to fixing an obviously failing defence it to...swap Matip for Mamadou Sakho. Matip is possibly a slight upgrade, but others fan would argue that - if still at the club - Sakho would still be Liverpool's best defender. A few additional points:

* Why did Klopp fail to bring in another centre-back over the summer? If he couldn't get his first-choice (seemingly Virgil Van Dijk), he should've had at least three other options lined up, even as a stop-gap measure. German international Benedickt Howedes, for example, is a prime example a player Liverpool could've (and should've) targeted.

* Why does Moreno continually get the nod over Andy Robertson? The Scot has good experience of playing in the the Premier League, so it shouldn't be an acclimation issue. Also, if Robertson isn't starting, why is James Milner being ignored for the left-back role after doing a consistently good job last season? Look at the left-backs at Real, Barca, Bayern, Tottenham, Chelsea, and City; Moreno is miles behind.

* I'm not a big fan of our midfield. I liked Can's potential last season, but I'm losing faith that he can be a consistently good player Premier League player. To me, Henderson (who is too harshly criticized) and Wijnaldum are above average, but that's all they are: above average. Would they be starting at other big clubs? No chance.

* Naby Keita as a box-to-box player will probably help, but if want an elite midfield, we need to bring him him, keep Philippe Coutinho, and buy a top-level defensive midfielder. I know Klopp doesn't appear to favour that approach, but that's part of the problem: the manager is being far too stubborn, and is ultimately ignoring a very serious issue.

* With the attack, Klopp has shown that he can create a very effective attacking unit, but the hard work of the front three is persistently undermined by the club's endless defensive deficiencies.

With all of that being said, I still like Klopp (believe it or not), but for Liverpool to become a truly top team, he needs to show some flexibility. I love our attacking play, and I love the enthusiasm Klopp brings to every game, but he needs to start being proactive in addressing these issues. Overhauling a team can take several years, and on that basis, Klopp needs to be given time; however, I have seen little tangible progress in the defense and midfield departments, and I find this very concerning.


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