Schooled and Lessons Unlearned – Tottenham 4 Liverpool 1

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There was a minute in the second half today where Tottenham broke through our midfield. Roberto Firmino ran with his man and shoulder charged him off the ball with such ferocity that the Spurs player was left sprawled on the pitch. It was a sulky gesture by the Brazilian and borne purely out of frustration. The goal aside it was the only time I cheered in ninety minutes.

We’ve all read this script before. Liverpool go out with good intentions only to find themselves a goal down to a horrific mistake. Do we put it behind us and see out the next ten minutes of predictable onslaught? We do not. We simply throw another mistake in for good measure and then try our hardest to remember where this came in the strategic plan.

Ordinarily, you can look at a scoreline like that and think the issue was work rate or ‘testicular fortitude’. It certainly wasn’t the former as we saw plenty of the ball, but when it came to the latter it was the same old song. Things haven’t improved since the City debacle or, at least, we haven’t learned from it. The pattern continues. Go behind, look around nervously and then hope the game ends soon. Print.

No leadership, no plan for how to get through the next phase of the game. Nothing.

But what was more concerning was the sheer speed in which we gave the game away.

Last week Man Utd’s plan was to play the game out until the last ten minutes and wait for us to hand them a gift. It would have worked had they the wit to take advantage. Spurs had no such issues.

Let’s be clear here. Tottenham are a good side, possibly even a great one. Kane and Son particularly gave us hell with their confidence and quality, but Jesus we gave them rose petals to walk over today. The match was barely five minutes old before an international centre-back chose not to bother checking the lad running behind him and we go a goal behind. Seven minutes later the same international centre-back throws himself at a ball he can’t possibly reach with such force that Harry Kane is crossing the ball just as he’s landing on the turf. 2-0. It’s okay though. We get one back and have a chance to regroup if we can only get to halftime at 2-1. Enter Emre Can.

Emre has had some good press of late and plays as a defender for his country. It’s startling then that he gives away such a stupid free kick in such a stupid area of the pitch at such a stupid time. Dejan’s gone off so Joel takes over as the Chief Inspector of the Keystone Cops. One weak header later and they have another chance. Alli’s still got a lot to do but any shot on target has us in trouble. Then the keeper balls it up for the fourth.

Tottenham worked us out in five minutes and beat us in twelve.

The walk from the ground was a sobering and sorrowful hour (the time it takes to get through the queue for the Tube even if you don’t want to use it). At City we shat it plain and simple, manager included. Back then we didn’t want to know once we had our hard luck story, but this was something different. Today Liverpool were given a reminder of just how far we are behind our rivals and while we huffed and puffed around their box with glacial determination they simply undid us time and again and finished every gift afforded them.

It was good to see that the manager finally point at his own chest when it came to dishing out blame. That alone is a start as this side labours under the misapprehension that we are a good side. We are not. That may sound negative or a lazy swipe at a team at its lowest ebb, but it’s simply a realistic appraisal. Oh, we have our moments, but this side sits in ninth place with just over half the points obtained by the league leaders.

This side needs pragmatism, not an inflated view of its potential. It doesn’t need ‘I feel sorry for xyz’ or sabre-rattling midweek interviews stating how great we’re going to be from now on. No one is doing well here and it’s fine to say so.

It’s easy to play favourites but after today it’s time for this side (and manager) to acknowledge a few home truths.

Liverpool have been to the two best teams in the division and lost nine goals. Nine.

We’ve played seven of the eight teams above us and beaten only one of them (Good old Arsenal).

Only four sides have conceded more goals than us – they’re in the bottom five.

We have conceded more away goals than anyone in the league.

And this can all change if we just stop doing the same things all the time. Playing the formation which no longer works, the individual mistakes, the lack of cover, the goalkeeper(s) and the acknowledgement that Fortress Anfield is a myth. It’s not a fortress. It’s just an address now.

Let’s just stop pretending, shall we?

Get back to basics, Liverpool. For a start, look at your back four and make us hard to beat again. If the manager is fine with the four centre-halves he’s got at the club, then show us why.

The saddest thing about this for me personally is this – if I were a football manager I’d want to play Liverpool because Liverpool tell you how to beat them. That has to change.

So while today was a public undressing at the ‘Home of Football’ (Christ), it can also be the time where we point out that the Emperor is naked. This is not to say that Klopp is solely at fault or should be sacked, but we need to look at this Liverpool team intensely and arrest the slide because we have to stare the facts in the face.

The only positive that comes from the day is that we might tear up the strategy that’s brought us to this point. 4-1 is a disgrace. Let’s hope we learn something from it.

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  1. I have supported Tottenham for many years (since Greaves and Gilzean, remember them?) and I recall the time when English football was in awe of the great Liverpool teams under the marvellous Bill Shankly et al. If I were a Liverpool fan I would be ashamed of the performance of the team at Wembley on Sunday and I would be asking very serious questions of the manager. He has great personality and is immensely likeable but what has he achieved? Liverpool under Klopp are going backwards and need to ask themselves whether he is the right man to be at the helm of what was once a wonderful club. One quote from Bill Shankly “For a player to be good enough to play for Liverpool, he must be prepared to run through a brick wall for me then come out fighting on the other side.” How many of the Liverpool team on Sunday would be prepared to do that? How many of the present Liverpool team would Shanks have gone anywhere near? It genuinely saddens me to see what has happened to a great club.

  2. Simon, i am a LFC fan for the past 3 decades, unfortunately what you said is true.
    We don’t seems to appoint managers who wants to win titles and who seems to know what they are doing any more. The club owners are forever in this mode to employ managers with a certain playing philosophy and most importantly knows how to save a penny but have no priority in winning matches.
    Our great Shanks would not touch any of our current players, especially the Captain, the defenders and the goalkeepers withva 10 feet pole. And yet Klopp gave one of these morons a new 100k per week contract!
    Just think about, no leadership at all on the pitch, none, and this is a club that gave us the great Stevie G!
    We are certainly going backwards but as usual FSG does not want to act until its too late.
    For a supposedly top coach who had 2 seasons to rectify one, one glaring problem and doesn’t want to even though its so bloody obvious for all to see, you have to ask, should we had sacked him earlier? Would any club even with any remote semblance of title ambitions persist with him? Would such Poch still in a job at Spurs if this is happening to his team?

  3. The weird thing about Sundays result is that Spurs did not need to play particularly well. They didn’t need to when their opposition was the equivalent of an army committing seppuku on the battlefield.

    I get the point about desire but have reservations about it. Henderson and Milner started, neither ever short of desire but are often found wanting for quality.

    The team needs a strong leader or character, preferably in midfield, to lead the team into conflict. In the games against Spurs last season Lallana was key as Liverpool dominated both encounters. In this match no one pressed and got in Spurs faces. Poch admittedly learnt and played a counter approach (probably learning from the Liverpool – Man City game) and with no leader Liverpool looked lost.

    The worrying aspect is not the score or even performance. No, its that Klopp’s Liverpool look like a one trick pony that has been found out. Counter at pace when Liverpool inevitably flood forward or defend with a low block and target set pieces. Simples.

    Even with player upgrades this system seems too open and too reliant on individual players. The slight tactical tweaks have also made the team worse this year than last. The question is whether Klopp has the tactical nous or is just too stubborn to radically change. The team misses the solidity of Clyne, perhaps more than expected but urgently needs a defensively minded midfielder. Oh what i’d give for a Mascharano. Actually at the moment i’d take a Momo!

  4. 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.


    (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.


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