Liverpool Always One Step Behind Until they Fix Their Shaky Foundations

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Ask any Liverpool fan, or any football fan for that matter, about where they want their team to be challenging and they’ll give you the same answer. Naturally, they want to be vying for the title, mounting an assault on the domestic cup and pushing for that all-important Champions League trophy.

In order to do that, you need to have water tight foundations and carry real authority and verve going forward. Liverpool have such prowess in the final third of the pitch, with a trio of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino causing all kinds of problems during pre-season to get the pulses raising ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.

It’s at the other end of the pitch however, that the problems emerge for The Reds. Showing a clear lack of authority and organisation against Watford on the opening day provided a harrowing deja vu moment for Klopp’s side, who looked dishevelled and disjointed from the word go.

Hardly a surprise.

Liverpool and shoddy defending are a love affair that looks set to go the distance. Year after year it’s the same old story; opposition teams don’t have to carve out chances but merely lump the ball into the six-yard box and wait for it to inevitably go in off someone’s knee.

Since Klopp took charge, Liverpool have conceded a staggering 27 goals from set-pieces – a tally equalling Southampton and Stoke City’s and just one less than Crystal Palace and Watford. Without disrespecting said clubs, none of them are in the same bracket as Liverpool. They’re not vying for a title charge or plying their trade in Europe, making the club’s weaknesses all the more poignant.

Compiling the defensive records of recent seasons underlines the persistent nature of the problem, too. Liverpool conceded 40 goals in the 2011/12 season, 43 in the 2012/13 season and 50 the following year.

The problems weren’t only continuing, but actually statistically worsened. It’s not a new issue for Liverpool; Brendan Rodgers suffered heavy criticism for a lack of stability at the back as did managers before him. Now it’s Klopp’s turn.

Taking over for Rodgers in October 2015, Liverpool shipped 48 goals at the back under the German – two fewer than last season’s tally of 50.

Comparing that to Chelsea and City is where the issue is really hammered home. In the Premier League, Chelsea conceded 46 goals in the 2011/12 season, 39 in 2012/13, 27 in the following year – almost half of Liverpool’s tally.

Last season, in their title winning campaign, Chelsea conceded a mere 33 league goals – 4 lower than City’s tally during their Premier League title win in 2013/14. Liverpool haven’t achieved a similar record since the 2009-10 season, highlighting the longevity of the problem.

Of course, then it boils down to just how do Liverpool rid of their frailties?

Signing Virgil van Dijk seems the most appropriate response, with the Dutchman offering an authoritative presence that the side so obviously lack. Both Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip’s alarmingly poor performances at Vicarage Road will only have increased pressure on Klopp to delve into the market in the coming weeks, with both players also very injury prone and unlikely to withstand a rigourous campaign.

However, Liverpool’s problems are far deeper rooted than just personnel. Yes, signing a high-quality centre-back can only help matters, but the club have bought recruit after recruit to try and iron out their weaknesses – most, if not all, have failed.

Player Year Transfer Fee
Kyrgiakos 2009/10 £2,000,000
Johnson 2009/10 £17,500,000
Wilson 2010/11 £2,000,000
Konchesky 2010/11 £3,000,000
Coates 2011/12 £7,000,000
Enrique 2011/12 £5,000,000
Ilori 2013/14 £7,000,000
Toure 2013/14 Free
 Lovren 2014/15 £20,000,000
Moreno 2014/15 £12,000,000
Gomez 2015/16 £3,500,000
Clyne 2015/16 £10,000,000
Matip 2015/16 Free
Klavan 2015/16 £4,200,000

Therein lies the problem. The Reds have spent a grand total of £93.2 million since 2009/10 and all these years later, they find themselves back to square one. Of course, none of those players are of the quality that Van Dijk is, but it suggests there could also be a weakness with the training regimen.

Klopp has been at the club almost two years now, in which time he’s had the chance to work on a number of defensive issues. However, with the start of the new Premier League season all that was apparent this weekend was that Liverpool have utterly failed to fix a broken tool.

For all their attacking brilliance and mouth-watering moments, Liverpool will always be a step behind their rivals until they tighten up their foundations. It’s hardly rocket science – tighten up at the back and you relieve the pressure on your front men.

At present, it’s always a case of Liverpool having to outscore their opponents. Fans go into games expecting a calamitous moment at the back, putting their faith in the attack to undo the damage.

That’s not a sustainable philosophy and one in which Liverpool must finally look to address once and for all. Failure to do so will see the Premier League title continue to elude them.

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  1. Many fans regard Klopp as some sort of messiah, a top coach. I am not so sure. To me he is, for now at least is just another a German version of Brendan Rodgers. At lot of emphasis on his “philosophy ” but no end result. Two years , 2 cup finals and zero titles says it all.
    Now he had brought it up a level by regarding fans and ex players as total idiots that deserves zero respect. All of us can see it, we need good defenders much much more than attackers, plus a top GK. Our back 5 is a total disgrace and not for the first time, it had been plaguing us for the past 2 seasons and beyond. But what does Klopp do? He says he is totally happy with our back 5.
    With Klopp and FSG at help, FSG being a master at transfer cock ups, LFC would never win anything of significance, a couple of pre season titles maybe.
    No wonder Coutinho is gunning for a move, with this bunch of clowns, no titles would come our way.
    Better go get a new manager LFC or should i say a new owner as well.

  2. Liverpool’s defence is nothing short of pathetic. Every time there is a corner or free kick, we expect the worst – and usually get it as we did yesterday at Watford. Unless we rectify the situation, Liverpool will continue to be a team striving for glory but always coming up short. Even much criticised Arsenal won the FA Cup and Community Shield.

  3. It’s amazing with the money spent, consider this? why can teams in the lower leagues with much smaller budgets can do basic defending and Liverpool can not. Are team is clearly unbalanced in the way it plays to attack minded at the expense of defence. We create chances by creative play involving multiple passes. Oppent, one ball over the top it’s that easy. Why? big open gaps left from over comitting. As for corners I think are defenders are set for the quick counter attack rather than defending the corner, got to win the ball first lads. They need an anchor in midfield to shield and help defence when wing backs bomb forward. It’s not all on the defenders but more the method. But klopp will fix it with another attacking midfielder.

  4. Why can’t we defend Cheese? Simple, because we have a blind coach that simply refuse to acknowledge what millions of fans can see week in week out, poor defenders who can’t do their job. Remember, this is the same guy that says he is happy with our back 5.
    This is the same guy who thinks our trainers can transform a bunch of morons into world beaters. 2 years on we are still waiting for that to happen.
    Do you think Pep is a lesser manager than Klopp? Top coaches like Pep or Conte acknowledged that they need better personnel to do the job but ours still insist we can train this bunch of garbage.
    We lost 2 points purely from comical defending, deja vu anyone?
    F**k u Klopp, are you hearing us the club’s fans?

  5. I’m sorry replacing players does not change the system. They only became garbage after Liverpool got hold of them . Keepers that can’t command the box The problem goes back to David James and we have had many keepers since then. The problem is not the personal it’s the method the training. Spurs got the best bit of Southampton. There coach got are garbage to play

  6. The system could be at fault but who insisted on sticking with a bunch of garbage? Noticed how Pep bought a new keeper for example?

  7. Klopps credit is on the wane and I must agree with the others that his total lack of action on our defence is alarming and unacceptable. Jose/Conte/Pep all addressed areas that need quality and they added it. It’s obvious that klopp knows how to score goals but in the uk, if you have no defence your fucked. Every team will be licking their lips when the inevitable set pieces come up against us.

    We gave lovren a pay rise??? Only highlighted vvd as the cb for us?? Really, is he the only top class cb in Europe, I think not!

    No dm signed when again that is an obvious requirement and a top quality gk is needed too

    I honestly think with the way things are we will fight out top 6 with Everton, all our competitors have added too much strength to keep up

    So sad, we get cl, and attract no one although we all thought it was guaranteed, with klopp and cl we will be back, a real option for players

    Alas, we might as well have Rogers at the helm


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