Liverpool Supporters: From Doubters to Believers and Back

Liverpool Supporters: From Doubters to Believers and Back

I was one of the doubters, I’m not going to lie. The last months of the Brendan Rodgers era were depressing. The team let the manager down, the fans down but most importantly they let the one true icon for a generation of supporters down in his last season. FSG decided to stick with the Northern Irishman while giving the boot to the backroom staff. A decision that at the time looked baffling. But maybe Jurgen wasn’t ready. Maybe there were no good options to replace Brendan, who was sacked after a start that it is at the very least comparable to what we are enduring this year. Then came the charismatic German with his heavy metal football. He somehow turned that season into something exciting – gave us cup finals and the comeback of the decade against his former club in front of the Kop. Then came the great start of last season and hearing the Champions League anthem at Anfield again. And most importantly – Klopp made me (and a lot of Reds) believe. Believe in that we are close to the promised golden sky. He saw the problems, he understood us. He still does – judging by his post-match comments. I consider myself an optimistic bloke – always trying to find the positives. I’ve been doing it all season. To be fair, circumstances haven’t really fallen in our favour since the beginning of August and bar a second-half collapse against Man City the team always put a good shift in. But this time there are no excuses. The worst part is – all 4 goals were avoidable. We weren’t beaten by the great attacking talent, that Spurs undoubtedly have. The not so mighty Reds gave them chance after chance and they just converted. Just look at the third goal – Spurs didn’t want to score, and yet the ball found its way to our net. We’ll get back to that later. I’m sure all of you have seen the goals being broken down post-match but let us just have another look.

The mistakes of youth and lack of cojones in the experienced 

A lot of people will blame Lovren for the first goal. The mistake that triggered the whole situation comes from Joe Gomez. He has no offensive player around him and is the deepest lying defender. A mistake that you can attribute to lack of experience but is still very basic. Not the first time one of our young defender let his teammates down by playing a striker on side. Trent Alexander-Arnold made the exact same mistake against Hoffenheim. However, the reaction by the centre-back’s is so poor that it overshadows the bad positioning by Gomez. Lovren just jogs back, the second time he has done so in 3 games:

Lovren just gives up on the play. Yesterday in a similar matter the Croatian was not bothered to be near Kane when the English striker was taking the shot. This is not good enough for Liverpool football club and shouldn’t be good enough for Jurgen Klopp. I have defended Lovren before but there is no excuse for not trying to get back. There is no other defender in recent times that lacked the desire to make a last ditched saving tackle. Martin Skrtel made a career out of it – covering for mistakes with spectacular sliding tackles. Matip’s reaction isn’t perfect either but in both situations, he is the one of the two showing the will to do everything possible to prevent the goal (and in the first case almost succeeding). If Dejan is injured and playing on a bag of painkillers he shouldn’t be starting, if there is something going on in his personal life that might be messing with his head, he shouldn’t be playing. That’s on the manager.

The Croatian is the main man at fault for the second goal when he somehow misjudged a throw from the Lloris. Jurgen Klopp said after the game that had he been playing, that ball was not going to reach Kane. I love Klopp as manager but his playing bio is not nearly as impressive – he never managed to play in the Bundesliga. What the German basically said is that a defender from the 2nd tier of German football would have dealt with that situation. Which is a good place to conclude the analysis on Lovren for this match. I want to point out something else in the build-up to the second goal. James Milner is 31 years old and has played in over 450 Premier League games since 2002.  He is the definition of experience and yet he let Son ran past him, without even trying to stop his run. Compare the situations to this moment from last season (and yes, I’m sorry for filling you with rage):

Picking up a yellow card is worth it sometimes but our midfielders are rarely willing to take one for the team. As Troy Deeney would put it – our midfield lacks cojones at times. I’m not advocating dangerous play or diving. Just the occasional cynical foul that would made the opposition fans want to throw their TV out of the window. We have a group of nice and very talented players but they don’t like to even attempt to exploit the rules. No one got a yellow card when Watford equalised in the 90th minute. When Salah was brought down against Burnley he was the only one protesting the injustice.

Set pieces – the well-known abuser

The last two goals came from set plays. A lot has been written about that. Time and time again. Second and third balls. I wouldn’t be surprised if those words are written with huge red letters in the Melwood locker room. If they aren’t, they should be.

Let us begin this journey to a dark place with Emre Can. The German international made 3 mistakes in the 2 added minutes of the first half – giving the ball away to Alli, fouling him and wondering around like a student visiting Amsterdam for the first time when defending the cross.  As I wrote earlier Spurs didn’t even want to score from the free kick. They did not commit any additional players to attack it – it was just Kane, Alli and Son, who were already around our box when the foul was committed. It has gotten so comical that teams don’t even bother bringing their centre-backs forward to score from a set play against us. To be fair, it should have been an offside, so that excuses Matip in a way. Can, however, is in no way affected by the wrong decision. Emre was also one of the players who lost a duel in the build-up for the first goal and was initially guarding Kane for the fourth one. If he thinks such a horrendous defensive display will be tolerated at Juventus, he is not familiar with how Italian football works. The Italian colossus managed to shut down Barcelona and a free-scoring Monaco en route to the Champions League final season.

The primary villain for thankfully the last goal we conceded is still Simon Mignolet. Another usual suspect. But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that the top scorer of the Premier League for the last 2 season’s (and leading the scoring chart this season) was left unchallenged on the edge of the six-yard box for a rebound tap-in, while there were 9 players in red shirts in the box.

The positives

You are probably thinking – what the hell are talking about. And you may have a point. But I have faith in Jurgen Klopp. This is his first real challenge since he got the job. I believe the German is up for the task. He is as stubborn as a man can be but this loud slap will lead to changes. Borussia Dortmund had a terrible start in Klopp’s last season in charge – they were sitting last in the Bundesliga table after 19 matchdays and finished 7th. Obviously, the Reds are in a much better position still somehow just 3 points behind 4th and we have already played all teams in front of us in the standings except Chelsea. And honestly, can it get worse?

The believers are turning back to doubters, Jurgen. It’s the first time in a while I saw the travelling Kop half empty before the final whistle, that’s the same supporters who were singing “You’ll never walk alone” while Manchester City were dismantling the team at the Etihad.  It’s time to show us what you are made of!

by

A lifelong LFC supporter who loves the use of stats in football.

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Comments

11 responses to “Liverpool Supporters: From Doubters to Believers and Back”

  1. Artemis says:

    While I will never enjoy Liverpool losing, this loss was cathartic in the sense that Klopp finally lost patience with his back-line. As manager, he had been defending his back four and CDM because he didn’t want it to look like he had no faith in them. But subbing out Lovren in the 30th minute, and then refusing to bring on Klavan, showed the ruthlessness that had been missing in his tenure so far. His post match comments also about Lovren, Matip being no better, and calling out Henderson without actually naming him (direct quote: ‘the last line is involved, but then also centre mid is involved’). I’m looking forward to the team sheet next week when we play Huddersfield where I expect some big omissions.

    I’d been defending Mignolet so far based on his performances at the back end of last season, but it’s getting harder and harder. He may have saved us at Leicester but it’s becoming increasingly common that the stats look like 1-2 goals from just 3-4 shots on target (against Spurs it was 4 goals from 6 on target). Even though the defenders are making mistakes, our GK is not bailing us out. Look at DDG, Lloris, Courtois, and now Ederson also. They find a way to bail out their side more often than not. The save percentages for those 4 are (saves/shots on goal) : 22/27 (81%) , 16/22 (72%), 24/33 (72%), and 11/14 (78%) compared to Mignolet’s pathetic 20/38 (52%) which is comparable to keepers of relegation level teams. Even Pickford of Everton has done better 32/50 (64%). We may have face more shots than on goal than those teams but if we’d had any of those keepers we would have conceded around 10 goals or less compared to the 17 we’ve conceded so far. Heck if we had Pickford we’d have conceded maybe 12 still 5 less. I don’t know if Ward or Karius are any better but I’m off the Mignolet bandwagon permanently.

  2. Chan says:

    Klopp said after the match that he would fix the defense , i could not believe my ears, is this for real? You know what, i don’t believe he can or are willing to do it. This fraud of a manager had 2 seasons to fix this and our keepers, what was that again, “name me 5 defenders who can improve our defense “. We can name about 20 i think just for that walking disaster called Lovren. Don’t forget Klopp have him a new 100k contract. 100k a week just to make sure we drop points week in week out. Klopp says he can train our hapless defenders and goalkeepers into a bunch of Sami Hyppia and Reinas. This latest display must be the kind of progress he is talking about. It takes such a disaster to wake him up, going all the way to 1964. I had been saying all season, Klopp is just a German version of Rodgers and we would win absolutely nothing with Klopp around. He listens to no one and frankly, in my 30 years of being a fan i had never felt such despair barring the Hodgson year. Despair knowing that my club would win absolutely nothing in the years to come while our rivals raced ahead of us.
    I would also like to congratulate the Everton FC board for being so decisive and acknowledging that they had made a mistake and moved swiftly to correct them.
    Everton is in the relegation zone now, we are actually closer to them than the league leaders.
    While FSG had been good to LFC, i wonder when they would realize that Klopp just too stubborn to win us anything.
    Do you blame Coutinho for wanting to leave?

  3. Stefan Vasilev says:

    Klopp has improved the squad as a whole and player individually. You are overreacting to a bad result. Changing the manager will improve nothing at this point. We new what we were getting when we got him, there is no point in complaining about it.

  4. Chan says:

    Artemis, you are spot on on Henderson. WTF is he in the team? If you consistently does not perfom, you are out, captain or not?
    Would any world class manager tolerate a consistent non performer like Henderson and Gini?
    And hey, what happened to that much vaunted Klopp training method? Why do we have this kind of yoyo players?
    And what is with that keeper rotation? Its clear that both Mignolet and Karius, Karius especially does not deserve to start, why not give Ward an extended run?

  5. Chan says:

    Stefan, we have to admit we got it wrong with Klopp. I was full of hope too when he came but facts are facts. Its not only one or two games, the fact is every single LFC fan could see this coming except for Klopp. Name me five, remember?
    Why not now? We can still save our season. We are closer to relegation than the top and Everton just sacked Koemen despite given him millions to spend.
    I am in love with LFC, not Klopp and i hope you are too

  6. Stefan Vasilev says:

    Chan, this is first period in which the team has been bad for an extended period of time when most players are healthy. Klopp deserves a chance to fix this. There is no way to challenge for the league anyway. If the players are behind him I don’t see a reason to lose patience. Furthermore an eventual VVD deal depends on Klopp being here, Keita agreed to come without the guarantee of CL football because of him. Jurgen has been building a team for 2 years, it’s been rough lately but we can’t jump the gun every time we struggle for results.

  7. Chan says:

    Stefan, this is not “what Klopp has not won the league by now! Klopp out! “kind of scenario. I don’t expect this. He had 2 seasons to fix this, the defense and the keepers and he refused to. He gave that walking disaster a new contract and bought a keeper who is actually worse than Mignolet. In between he sold our best defender. Tell which winning coach had a cock up defense and keepers and managed to win anything? He under estimated our team and the league and worse he refuses to learn from it. In the Bundesliga all you have to worry about is Bayern and he thought its the same here. In other words he is out of his depth. Signing VvD and Keita alone will do nothing for us, the problem would remain. We need better players and better system. Also why persist with serial under permormers like Henderson? What’s the point of buying Ox then?
    If Klopp is capable of fixing this, he would had done it already.
    How long did Rafa took to win us something of note? Remember how his team is?
    Why not sack Klopp and bring back Rafa?
    At least Rafa under stand how to build a winning team, from the back. And he brought us Torres.
    We had seen enough ok Klopp’s stubborness and the longer we wait, the more toxic it would be

  8. Stefan Vasilev says:

    Rafa won two trophies in his first two seasons and nothing afterwards. Rafa was building on a squad that was already very good defensively. He still did a great job with it.
    Klopp got a squad that had trouble going out of an Europa League group. There has been improvement, probably not as much as we like but it was always going to be a slow process with him. His methods have achieved the goals that were set for the last two years. My point is – give him a chance to take the team out of this slump. No way we win the league and to be honest I don’t care that much about being 4th, I just want one of the two cups we are still in.

  9. Muhammad says:

    Spurs 4 v 1 Liverpool PL 22/10/17 Wembley

    Liverpool were without Mane, Lallana & Clyne, all with long term injuries. Wijnaldum was also missing through injury.

    Spurs were without Wanyama & Dembele. Rose was on the bench, having made a 10 minute come back against Real Madrid in midweek.

    It’s important to note this, because many Liverpool fans erroneously portray the image that it’s only LFC that suffer the misfortune of injuries, tough runs of fixtures & fixture congestion. For the record, prior to this game, Liverpool played Maribor away in midweek on the same day Spurs played Madrid at the Bernabéu.

    The analysis of this game will look only at the goals Liverpool conceded as there’s enough material in these goals alone, let alone looking at issues such as how Son got away from our centre backs to hit the bar in the 1st half.

    1st Goal

    As Trippier plays the ball in to space behind Lovren, Gomez hasn’t pushed up to play offside. Lovren doesn’t know this as he doesn’t look across in the build up, but the likelihood is that even if he had tried to look, he would not have been able to see through the mass of players.

    Since he doesn’t know whether Kane’s offside or not, he needs to adopt caution & drop a few yards to deter Trippier from playing the ball or to be in position if the ball’s played.

    When the ball’s played, Matip raises his hand for offside when it isn’t. It’s arguable Matip’s also playing Kane on side. Lovren ambles back. As he does so, he looks across to the linesman whilst Kane continues his run & scores.

    Mignolet should be starting outside his 6 yard box, as Liverpool are playing a high line (something which Peter Schmeichel habitually did). This gives Mignolet a better opportunity to sweep up. Instead he stays back & then decides to come, which is neither here nor there.

    2nd Goal

    Lloris throws towards Kane. Lovren gambles & tries to get in front to attempt to win the header, but fails to do so. He should only ever overcommit if he has cover & is almost certain to win the header.

    Moreno’s high. Kane therefore has a free run through. Klopp alluded, in his post match interview, that Moreno was too high suggesting that it was not the time to press when the goalkeeper has the ball in his hands.

    Matip comes across to cover, but Kane has already had a look & seen Son making the run from deep. Son outpaces Milner, which is expected, & scores. Had Gomez been not so high on the opposite side, he probably would have got across to Son before he shot.

    One of the pundits suggested that Milner could have come across Son to preclude him getting on the end of Kane’s pass. Having watched the replay several times, it’s not clear that this was at all possible. Blaming Milner is false because he had a long way to travel having tried to orchestrate an attack just before the ball ended up with Lloris.

    The more pertinent question to ask: why was the younger Henderson, whose role it was to sit no where to be seen when Kane breaks after the goalkeeper’s throw?

    Son’s shot’s not in the corner. Had Mignolet been quicker to react, he may have saved down to his right. As it was his dive occurs after the ball’s gone past him.

    Lovren’s rightly substituted after approximately 30min as at that point his head seemed all over the place. His expression showed that he was shell shocked.

    In addition, question marks arise over whether he should have been playing in the first place? Reports prior suggested that for several games, Lovren was not fully fit & was taking tablets to get through games.

    3rd Goal.

    As against Spartak, Can wants too many touches on the ball & ends up giving a free kick away. From the free kick, Liverpool are holding a high line. 5 defenders are in the box with Kane being the only Spurs player in the box. Did they need to line up like they were defending a free kick from out wide? No they didn’t. The free kick was from deep & it wasn’t as if Spurs’ centre backs had come up from the back for the free kick.

    Matip’s weak header out to the edge of the box, as opposed to out of play, when under little pressure, which means the ball lands to Alli on the edge of the box, who shoots 1st time & scores. Why was Matip’s header weak? It seems from the replays that his body shape was questionable at the outset.

    Alli was Can’s man, but is ball watching & therefore can’t get out in time to block the shot. Here it’s the set up as much as individuals to blame for the goal (see previous paragraph).

    Aside from the set up, Mignolet’s arguably at fault again. A high line’s played so that the keeper can command his area. It appears that Mignolet doesn’t give Matip a shout. Had he done so, the ball either goes out of play or Mignolet claims it.

    Klopp describes this goal as a “present” in the post match interview. However the “present” was as much a set up issue as it was to do with individual errors & for that Klopp’s exclusively to blame.

    4th Goal

    Spurs take a free kick from the right. Mignolet comes to punch but doesn’t get enough purchase on it. Ball lands to Spurs’ Vertonghen. Can comes out to block Vertonghen’s shot. Henderson & Gomez both leave Kane as the shot comes in. Both are attracted to the ball, leaving Kane with a free shot on goal.

    Miscellaneous

    (A) Winks, though talented, was the pivot in the absence of Wanyama & Dembele, yet Liverpool’s midfield weren’t good enough to take advantage of it or leave a mark on him.

    (B) There were 3 unique occurrences in this match. Unique because there is probably a greater likelihood of a solar eclipse occurring than Salah scoring with his right foot (albeit a poor connection) from a forward pass by Henderson. Yes, you read that right. Your eyes are not deceiving you. Henderson played a forward pass, which was an ASSIST, which almost resulted in this writer being hospitalised. The 3rd unique occurrence was Klopp making an early substitution (albeit forced).

    (C) If it’s assumed that Klopp’s working on the defence, but the same basic mistakes keep occurring, then it’s obvious the personnel are not good enough, which leads to the question as to why Klopp’s not made this his primary issue to resolve?

    If the argument is that Matip, Klavan & Karius were the solutions, then the fact that only 1 of the 3 plays regularly, means that again Klopp’s to blame for failing to recruit correctly.

    It was Klopp who suggested in the summer that only Plan A would suffice. In other words, Van Dijk or nobody. The result is that after Lucas’s departure Liverpool have less centre back options in a Champions’ League season than they had when they weren’t in Europe in 2016/17.

    Ultimately, continuous shambolic defending, both individually &, in particular, collectively is down to Klopp as the man in charge.

    He’s had just over 2 years now to resolve it & hasn’t. Liverpool have, this season to date, conceded more goals away from home than Palace, who are bottom, & they sit 9th in the table, yet the majority of dimwit Liverpool fans continue to back him or remain silent.

    (D) Just like Rodgers, Klopp’s becoming increasingly clueless. After rightly taking of Lovren & moving Gomez to centre back, he brought on Ox & played Can out of position at right back whilst Trent remained on the bench.

    (i) Is it then any surprise that with Klopp in charge Liverpool have conceded more goals in their first 9 league games since 1964/65?

    (ii) Is it any surprise that Liverpool are 7 points worse off than they were at the same point last season?

    (iii) Is it any surprise that Liverpool currently have the 6th worst defence in the league as evidenced by the stats?

    (iv) Would Mourinho be caught laughing (albeit gallows humour) on camera after an error by his defender as was the case with Klopp after Lovren’s 2nd major blunder of the game?

    (v) With 2 wins in 10 in all competitions (20% win percentage) & an inferior points tally when compared with Rodgers after 77 PL games in charge, the question is why more fans are not calling for Klopp’s head?

    The only plausible explanation is that his gregarious, at times comical nature, has endeared him to the fans & media. It’s doubtful many other managers, if any, would get away with such poor statistics in modern day football.

  10. Stefan Vasilev says:

    Good analysis Muhhamad.

    I don’t think Klopp is getting away with the poor performances. Questions are being asked after every game. This is the first really bad spell Klopp’s team has had. Yes, the begging of the year was dreadful but we had so many key players missing back than. Jurgen needs to step up. We have already played everybody above us in the table bar Chelsea, which means the schedule is relatively easy until the end of the year. This is make or break time.

  11. Chan says:

    Stefan, like i said, i don’t expect Klopp to win the league so soon. This bloke had 4 windows to get us a half decent defense and keepers but he REFUSED to do it, focusing on the attack alone.
    The point we have the dreaded de javu feeling that we are heading no where but down with Klopp, all the hard evidence are pointed that way.His own philosophy says he can’t fix this. Why gives him more money just to stay where we are?
    If he wants to or are capable of doing so, it would had been fixed by now and we would not be talking about this.
    The problem is many fans are looking just at his reputation and not facts and the facts do say he is actually much worse than Rodgers.

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Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2017-10-24 08:01:52
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