Time For Under Pressure Klopp To Earn His Reputation

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Liverpool’s lacklustre start to the season has threatened to escalate into a serious issue. The Reds have won just three of their opening nine league games, and just one of their opening three Champions League fixtures. The situation remains far from disastrous, they’re still in pole position to top their group in the UCL and securing Champions League football for next season remains very much on the cards in the league, but two heavy defeats to rivals Spurs and Man City have ensured that the Reds are on the back foot. And for the first time, Jürgen Klopp is under pressure.

To clarify, Klopp certainly isn’t in danger of losing his job at this stage. It would be a big surprise if the German wasn’t in charge of Liverpool in 12 months’ time and he remains very much the man for the job. But his honeymoon period is well and truly over. His second season at the club was a success, but not a massive success, and he remains trophy-less heading into his third season. Having secured Champions League last season, anything less than a top four finish and a decent Champions League run has to be considered a step backwards, even with the squad looking healthier after each transfer window.

But the painful truth is that at this moment Liverpool are not moving forwards. After a great league finish last year, and a decent summer, the hard work simply isn’t paying off and there remain serious concerns about Klopp’s team. Sunday’s battering at the hands of Spurs is being seen by many as a watershed moment, and for Klopp’s sake it simply has to be.

Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet showed once again that they are not fit for purpose and whilst both players have fought hard for their spots under Klopp, with Mignolet in particular having an excellent six months at the back end of last season, both of them have regressed at the start of 2017/18. Whilst they are not the only issues in this team, they are the most obvious ones that need fixing, particularly with the spectre of Naby Keita looming to fix Liverpool’s midfield issues by being the best central midfielder Liverpool or indeed the Premier League has seen since … well Gerrard.

But the crux is this: questions are now being asked of Jürgen Klopp, serious questions, and they are questions that need to be answered. Liverpool are conceding too many goals, not scoring enough, not pressing properly and look tired. The team is short on individual quality and has lost the fantastic team dynamism that worked wonders for them last year.

Up until now, Klopp has had two possible options: get the system working the way he wants it to, or try something different. At this point, it’s fair to say that the issues aren’t going away, so the pressure to change the way he’s playing will just grow until either Klopp does change something, or the system starts to click again. So what are Klopp’s solutions right now?

Well the first thing to note is that I don’t think anything that’s happening changes Klopp’s plans for January. I find pointing out that we need a CB tedious since it’s obvious that Liverpool will make another move for Virgil Van Dijk as soon as they possibly can and probably one of the various central defenders available on a free next summer. It’s frustrating that they aren’t already playing in red now, but we can’t sign them now so people might as well shut up about it, especially since it’s been obvious to everyone with a pair of eyes for months now that we’re a centre-back short.

Whilst it’s clear that signing a centre-back doesn’t entirely fix the majority of Liverpool’s issues, it certainly solves the main one and that allows Klopp some time to assess the other problems and their magnitude. Our attack hasn’t been at full throttle but it’s hard to gauge how big a problem that was against Spurs because Lovren and Mignolet were shambolic and Liverpool conceded four awful goals.

So what can Klopp do until then, and what should he be doing to try to mitigate the damage?

Well the first thing that Liverpool need to do is to get the press functioning again. Whether it’s a tactical choice by Klopp, or whether the team is just dead on their feet it’s difficult to say, but certainly there has been a significant drop in pressing and that has had a very negative effect on the pitch. When pressing is the cornerstone of both your attacking and defensive game and it goes missing, everything else has to function better, and right now it isn’t.

The second thing that needs to happen is that Liverpool need to tighten up at the back. If our vibrant, attacking style can’t function properly then we need to find a way to go the other way. Whilst we were not particularly great in the back end of last season for large swathes, there’s no denying that we were able to grind out results, and we have the quality in Salah and Coutinho to unpick any defence.

One thing that will help both of these things is the return of both Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane. Whilst it’s fair to point out that two injuries to key players shouldn’t be enough to cripple Liverpool, it’s also academic. Having these two back in the side, as they hopefully will be before the busy Christmas period, will be a huge boost for Klopp.

And finally, Klopp needs to bite the bullet and drop Mignolet. I still think that Lovren, if he’s fit, is Liverpool’s best centre-back option until January. I also think that right now it’s obvious Lovren isn’t capable either physically or mentally of playing for us, so either Klavan or Gomez needs to fill the gap until either January rolls around or Lovren is in a state to play.

As for goalkeeper however, Loris Karius simply has to be given time. Dropped after making a couple of big errors early last season, Karius has played a bit part role for the club, but is a young keeper and the only way he’s going to improve is by spending time in the middle with his defence. Perhaps Klopp was trying to build his experience and confidence slowly in the UCL, but the time for that is over. Karius may not be an immediate improvement on Mignolet, but by the summer he should have made significant progress.

Ultimately, these are all suggestions, albeit to me logical ones, as to how Klopp can improve this Liverpool team but truthfully it doesn’t matter what he does as long as it works. The big issue for Liverpool at the moment is the results, and whilst I don’t think there need to be drastic changes in order to improve this team, there certainly needs to be an improvement and quickly. Klopp has had more than enough time to address Liverpool’s issues but he has put his faith in mediocrity and unless he changes that, he will not be winning trophies with Liverpool.

The rub is this. Liverpool are now 12 points behind Man City after nine games, which means that Klopp is facing an almost impossible task to win the title this year and it’s only October. Klopp wanted time and promised results if we give him that time. I am a firm believer that Klopp should have the time that he desires and that if he is given it he will deliver trophies, but that has to be predicated on clear signs of improvement. Right now, Liverpool are in a spiral, a rut, a hole. And it’s up to Jürgen Klopp to prove that he’s the manager Liverpool fans think he is. He has to earn his reputation. And get us out of it.

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  1. I’d be surprised if we won anything major with Klopp. He has not addressed the defensive problem and issue, whilst he goes into every game using the same one dimensional tactic and strategy, hoping for the same result every time, a win. Unfortunately, as devastating as it had been, teams have sussed onto this, and it no longer works. Our attack has to beat our own defence, by way of outscoring more than they will concede, but with teams now sitting back and soaking up our pressure, the goals are drying up.
    A top level manager with any credibility and the chance of winning major trophies, simply cannot send the same team out to try and do exactly the same job every game. It doesn’t work. In fact it reminds me of Keegan at Newcastle during a good spell for them, that ultimately ended in winning nothing. It can be exciting to watch when it works, its a footballing horror story when it doesn’t, like against Spurs and City.
    After 75 games in charge, I think Klopp was 5th in the ranks versus all other managers since Roy Evans. He has an awful lot of work to do along with a serious deep look at his methods, if he is to be one of the most successful LFC managers since the Evans era. I’m not convinced he can do it.

  2. I disagree about the squad looking healthier after each transfer window. Last season when we desperately needed reinforcements in January, we got none. And this summer while the additions were good, the overall transfer window was not. We lost Lucas and Kevin Stewart, the only two proper CDMs in the squad with no replacements. Not to mention the lack of a new CB was criminal. Overall the summer transfer window left us worse off in the most important area (defence), so it cannot be said that our squad looked healthier. If anything it looked unbalanced.

  3. 4231 drop can, lovrn, miggs . Play ward in goal gomez wth mantip .mantip moves to lovrn side. Milner/ gini and hendo as holdn midfeild not can !!!! Sane out so its tino, ox, salha and firmino. We cant play heavy metal in a 433 defence not good enuf an we hve no defensive midfeilder heavy mental band consis of heavy metal personel not the in every possision of the band not a heavy metal front man and a soul band bhinde him it wont work and thts the case at lfc

  4. For all your problems we are just three points off the champions league spot. Yes we did concede a lot of goals but most of it has been against the two of the best attacking teams and away from home. We have already played all the top 5 teams in the league in the first set of rounds. I am not saying we are smooth sailing but niether are we in big mess. Klopp will change things starting this weekend and in January. Also some talk as if we were title winners or even contenders season in season out before Klopp came in. Anyway I really believe Klopp will turn things around and if he can’t see that he wouldn’t be the one to stick around.

  5. Sorry my friend but it’s the same story with Brendan Rogers and the issues have not been resolved. Klopp has too much faith in players that just don’t cut it. It’s time now to bench the rubbish move them on.
    Unfortunately Klopp has not brought all the big names we expected when he became manager, he is in control of who we buy and sell that was the deal he made before he arrived so it’s all on him. If we continue the path we are on then we might as well call ourselves “Everton”

    For the record I was never a believer of Klopp

  6. Cant believe our midfield has been absolved of any blame. Our midfield has been mediocre at best and we have too many similar midfield players with no one true leader. Henderson has been shockingly poor for a Liverpool captain.Dont see how a defence can cope with wave after wave of attack from a top side without cover in midfield. We have lacked bite since Mascherano. Time to sell Henderson Milner Can and to a certain extent even Wijnaldum. All top 5 teams have more than one true defensive (Kante Fernandinho Wanyama Hererra) and we have Henderson? Not saying our defence shouldnt be blamed but for BPL midfield is where battles are won or lost. If there is anything Klopp should be blamed for, it is the atrocious midfield we are having now.

  7. Klopp were brought in to replace Rodgers because of our defensive and goalkeeping issues that prevented us from moving forward.
    Now into his 3rd season and with money, Klopp is still facing these issues, so i am not so sure why he should be given more time and money to something that clearly he is not capable of doing. The EPL is no Bundesliga where you only have to worry about 1 team. 2 seasons ago Leicester won the league. Clearly Klopp had been found out and besides not capable to fix these issues, we know that he is tactically very very limited, as his game plans and substitutions would tell you.
    Many of our fan base and ownet like to fool ourselves and believe the Ferguson story could be repeated. Well more than 2 decades with no league title tells you sometimes you have to accept the obvious truth, that bloke is just not good enough to do the job.
    Klopp whole defensive plan is centered on one man, what if he got injured or decides to join some other team? This is truly pathetic and it amazes me Klopp lovers are blinded by this. Sometimes i questioned, are they in love with the club or the man?
    Why can’t we sack Klopp now and bring in Rafa, one true scouser who had shown us he can do the job? My god this man won us the CL with those cowboys in charge. Give that man another shot and let him finish the job.
    Even if results were to pick up again, we all know this is just a Klopp band aid and things would revert to type, just like Lovren.
    That was why i was not overly excited with the Maribor win, i know for sure disaster is never far away and Klopp have absolutely no clue what to do.

  8. First, the assumption presented as a fact that Klopp is not in danger of losing his job is a tad devious. How do you know that?

    Second, his recent post match analysis of Joselu’s goal and the 3rd goal conceded against Spurs demonstrated he seems to know close to bugger all about defending. Therefore, cease deluding yourself that he is going to win us major honours.

    He is best suited as a sponsor for Oral B.

  9. Rafa benitez? Oh plz dont make me laugh he inherited Houlliers team when he won the UCL and then what did he do? Mess it up by chasing Gareth Barry to replace Alonso omg u serious barry to replace Alonso so Rafa messed up a good team he aint no saviour.

  10. There are two ways to rectify the situation LFC is currently enmeshed:

    1. New owners with deeeep pockets with THE RIGHT people running the football side of the club.

    2. FSG making drastic changes to the football (scouting and recruitment) side of the club and providing some funds.

    Whatever angle chosen, player identification and recruitment is the KEY and LFC is simply poor at it. I honestly would do a great job at it.

    Right now, I’d say regroup and integrate the likes of Lewis, Woodburn, Dhanda, Ejaria, Grujic and Ward fully into the first team. These ones will cover Lovren, Henderson, Can, Klavan, Mignolet, and Moreno’s places in the first team.

    Retain Clyne, Matip, Robertson, Firmino, Lallana, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Mane, Salah, Kent, Sturridge, Solanke, Wijnaldum.

    Additions such as Van Dijk (Southampton), Schuurs, John Brookes (Wolfsburg), Timo Werner (Leipzig), Jonathan Tah (Leverkusen), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Keita (Leipzig), Kondogbia (Inter Milan), Jack Butland (Stoke), Alban Lafonte.

    This gives us a team of:

    GK: Butland, Ward, Lafonte

    Defense: Van Dijk, Brookes, Matip, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Clyne, Robertson, Lewis, Schuurs, Tah.

    Midfield: Grujic, Ejaria, Coutinho, Lallana, Salah, Wijnaldum, Kondogbia, Goretzka, Mane, Firmino, Keita, Kent, Woodburn.

    Strikers: Werner, Sturridge, Solanke, Brewster.


  11. So Jerome, what is your take on this? Klopp took Rodgers team and made it worse, he actually is performing worse than Rodgers. The last time i checked Rafa won us anything of note.
    Retain Klopp and continue with the rot? Than only realize that oh, this chap is just like Rodgers, just with a different passport

  12. Nothing come with instant. There will be process, especially our LFC. So, IMHO, I still believe in Klopp will bring something BIG in positive way. Normal process will bring marvelous result.

  13. What are you talking about… 25 years and all we have achieved is champions league and a few Mickey Mouse cups.. 2 seasons later with Klopp and he still hasn’t got a plan B when the lads get into trouble on the park… at least Rodgers fooled them all for most of 13/14 season.. Klopp has only fooled the yanks!!

  14. Give Ward the gloves in EPL until we exit the champs league with Karius and see how they do. Ward would have been in the sticks tomorrow with our opponents and playing every week for them. There is no risk.


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