Liverpool in Crisis: This is Klopp’s Responsibility

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A loss of physicality, humility and desire

Three years ago this week Chris Wilder said this about Liverpool “they won every first ball, every second ball. Ran forward and ran back. They did that miles better than us… had the humility and desire to do that as World Champions, as European Champions… Tactically and technically they are superb but the physical side, if that’s good enough for them it’s good enough for anyone”.

Fast forward to today and a national newspaper cites a Premier League team who recently played Liverpool. It says “Three main weaknesses were identified before his team’s recent meeting with the Reds: Liverpool’s vulnerability on transitions (ideal for teams who are happy to let Klopp’s side have the ball and counter-attack them), the ease with which they concede clear chances and – most damningly – their frequent inability to stand up to physicality.”

(I am reminded of the Martin Johnson quote about the 1986 England cricket team: “there are only three things wrong with this England team. They can’t bat, can’t bowl, and can’t field.”)

This is quite the turn-around. It will be hurting Klopp and his team.

The data backs up the eye test. We were very poor against Leicester and calamitous against Brentford. Wolves was no better. We concede first often, we are bullied easily, we have a soft centre, we give up more big chances than any side except Leeds. We create a lot of big chances but miss most of them.  We don’t, with a few exceptions, look like a team dripping with desire, fighting for every ball.

And now Paul Joyce today states the players are unable to do what Klopp wants.

For a team feared for its physicality, and who had in the past two years combined that with greater control and precision – this is a total train wreck. Carragher wasn’t wrong here “When I watch Liverpool now, and certainly in midfield, it feels like Jurgen Klopp’s team is morphing into something else… it reminds me of Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. Yes, they were a great football team. But with their actual pace and physicality, teams could not cope with it. Then that team morphed into something really technical and they never won again.”

A startling decline 

The decline has been startling. Even the biggest doomsters could not have thought it would be this stark, this dramatic. Even top 4 now looks very unlikely. Unthinkable. But while the decline has been faster and deeper than anyone expected, it is not unsurprising given the lack of investment on the pitch. Between 2016 and 2020 it felt like Liverpool cracked the secret code. Every decision looked smart, money was spent well, frugally but targeted with laser like precision into the areas of greatest need. It culminated in a  league run (across seasons) of P38, W36, D2, L0. 110 points from 114. The fact this only gave up a single league title is a great curiosity.

A series of bad decisions 

But then, a series of bad decisions, all linked by one thing (Klopp). The Henderson contract (2.5 more years of this left everybody!). Pushing Michael Edwards (and subsequently his team) out, ignoring the scouts (Enzo!). Letting someone else take players who were available and would have helped enormously (Bruno Guimarães the most glaring one). Even the Thiago transfer looks odd, in retrospect (without other additions). We are now (apparently) chasing Caicedo and Enzo. Both have a half season in a proper league, both were available for under £10million and would now cost approaching £150m+ for the pair. We know the script. We won’t get them. The disastrous new pre-season schedule. The glut of hamstring and muscle injuries. The bafflingly naïve new tactics. It goes on.

Each act of self-harm, each time driven by poor decision making. Emotional decision making. Irrational decision making. Perhaps even hubris (which is, after all “the world’s most renewable resource”).

No quick fixes 

Can it be fixed? Probably not to be honest, not quickly, and not to anything like the level we saw from 2018-2022. Fixing it would need changes that just seem so unlikely. A change of manager? No thanks. A change of assistant manager? Not if you want the keep the manager. A return of Edwards? Not a chance unless you change the manager. A new all-seeing genius Sporting Director? Unlikely anyone that good wants the role if they don’t have decision-making power. And the manager won’t acquiesce to that. A whopping new kitty? Possible at some point, but unless a new owner is super rich and prepared to invest huge sums in the squad (several £100s of millions)… and maybe change the manager to boot (good luck with that).

It goes on. And, by the way, we should reject any shouts that this is a transitional season. It isn’t; at least not in a positive sense. There is precisely zero signs of a positive transition  (it is if transitioning means going from a top 3 club in the world to merely a top 6 to 8 side in England).

All roads lead back to Klopp

Just as we adore him for what he has brought, so we can be critical for the mistakes that rest on his shoulders. It’s very easy to attack Pep Lijnders. But he’s not acting as a rogue agent. All he does is with Klopp’s say so. Presumably even that dreadful and arrogant book, with its calamitous self-owning title.

How we ended up – from the team that won every first ball, every second ball etc – to Carvalho and Elliott as our midfield away to Everton in September is one for the historians to ponder. But it’s on Klopp to fix it. The first step is to be more solid, smarter. Cut down the big chances against. Fight harder for the ball, match teams physically. Whether this can be achieved without several new players – I doubt it; but we will find out.

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  1. I actually thought I wrote your comment Bernie bc I was about to write the exact same thing. Injuries are a killer but this midfield is a complete mess and has drastically affected both the defense and the offense to a lesser extent while being a horrible problem in and of themselves. Not 1 truly reliable player overall and you can tell every team just fancies playing our midfield and I like that we got gakpo for the price but if our next 2 purchases aren’t mids im gonna lose it. I will even take a very cheap mediocre destroyer mid in January to atleast get some physicality back in the team

  2. It’s been comming for a while, gini was never replaced and why we never bought him back is baffling…the guy Nunez who went to wolves why did we not buy him when we had the chance? Now he is at wolves we want him?. Age waits for nobody are midfield is old , and the players in there have worked there socks off for a few years . The time to add to your squad is when you’re at the top , not in decline …like Bob Paisley did even Kenny , FSG imo opinion have done there job and should sell up before they undo all the good work they have done ..klopp has been superb but even he has made mistakes , I remember as far back as the player can he played him every game knowing he was leaving the same as gini why? Imo it gave players who were staying , and wanted to play the wrong impression ..hendo has been superb , but is now a squad player And imo
    Should retire from England now we’re he is a squad player . Fabhino has not been at it this season is it that his legs have gone? Thiago is a superb player just slow , and not a defensive mid player , even vvd seems to have lost a bit ( but still decent)..this season has been poor , yes injuries have not helped but a massive improvement is needed if we are to finish in the top 4 ..

  3. This is 100% correct. Cannot fault or argue with any of these sentiments. We have gone backward, and midfield no longer have an Anfield fighting spirit – home or away. They need a bullet up their arse and the bigger calibre the better.

  4. Klopp has made mistakes, all manager’s do at some point. For what he has achieved, where’s the help from FSG when he needs it most. No new midfielders in January. Other clubs are spending, even Leeds. Klopp has helped build up the club financially. In fact he’s carried FSG. What did Liverpool achieve before klopp under FSG.

    The main instigators for the decline at Liverpool are FSG, who are charlatan owners. These are the same people who lied and plotted for the super league, they never told the manager, or the supporters, the groveling apology only came because it failed, they were caught red handed. They need to be forced out of the club from protests from the fan’s. Otherwise don’t moan.

    When the football club is now the 3rd richest club in the world making nearly 600 million in revenues, and they still won’t spend, the owners need to be forced out of the club. We won the league, should have strengthened, instead the following year our best midfielder wad allowed to depart, wjinaldum, and because we didn’t have enough centre backs, klopp was forced to play midfielders in defence.

    Liverpool have the lowest net spend of all the top six clubs in the last five years. FSG always sell to buy.
    FSG just spent 257 million at their only love the Boston red Sox, Liverpool are only a cash cow to them.
    There’s a reason why Arsenal are 21 points ahead of us, they’ve spent 262 million in the last two years, and are still looking to improve. They have the youngest team in the premier league. We have one of the oldest, and it’s injury prone.

    The competition now has improved in the premier league, Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle, they’ll keep spending. Klopp has his hands tied, strict financial transfer policy which is in place for FSG to run the club on shoestring budget ,so they can make massive profits. You cannot keep pulling rabbits out of hats.

    There are no more coutinho’s to sell for 140 million. That built the spine.
    Those who think it’s bad now try to imagine Liverpool without klopp, still under FSG. There’ll be no new investors. FSG will never sell the club, because they are making a fortune .

    New investors, that’s just an excuse for FSG not to spend. What happened to the 535 million from redbird capital. What happened to that investment.
    Where’s all the other money gone. Into the pockets of FSG.

    Don’t expect big spending next summer, there’ll be no Bellingham. Milner 37 and firmino 32 will soon be given new contracts. That should tell you what FSG are planning next season.
    Dont expect klopp to stick around in a mid table team going nowhere under owners FSG, who wont spend to rebuild. Cowboy owners wont rebuild. They want more profit.

    Get rid of FSG, start protests, or Liverpool football club will sink without a trace.
    The choice is yours.


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