Following a 3-0 loss to Brighton, Jurgen Klopp claimed he couldn’t remember a worse game in his tenure on Merseyside. You’d find it hard to argue with him.
Liverpool looked unrecognisable on the south coast, having only 39% possession and losing the ball in crucial areas – while Brighton were somewhat reminiscent of the ‘heavy metal football’ that Liverpool are known for. After the final whistle, Klopp headed over to the travelling away fans, put his hands together and bowed his head – a public apology for the issues facing the club.
But is he the one to blame?
“The problems are the same as last week (a 2-2 FA Cup draw with Wolves). We don’t win the key battles on the pitch, the key challenges and we give the ball away too easy.”Jurgen Klopp when asked what went wrong against the ‘Gulls
What is he doing wrong?
Jurgen Klopp is certainly not innocent in the crisis at Liverpool. His ‘blind loyalty’ to players declining and his stubborn nature not to change his tactical approach have made Liverpool easy opposition for most of this season.
He continues to start players that aren’t performing – for example, Fabinho, who is now just a shell of his former self, continues to be in favour. In addition to that, with the lack of options he has in midfield, you’d think he would switch shape to a formation that requires less bodies in that department.
Yet, he has plenty of credit in the bank when it comes to Liverpool supporters – and rightfully so.
The German has overseen a revolution at Liverpool since taking over in the autumn of 2015 – winning every trophy available to him, including that illusive 19th league title. He has built one of the best squads England have ever seen, and recreating that feat will be no easy task.
With the recent investment in young talent you can see the vision beginning to take place. Nunez, Elliott, Konate, Ramsay, and Trent represent Klopp’s vision for the future – but the issue is the present day, and the problems are paramount.
Factors out of his control?
Klopp is no stranger to injury woes, but with five first team players currently sidelined he has limited options across the board. Fans and pundits alike frequently ask about the midfield – a midfield that won less than 50% of their duels in their 3-0 loss to Brighton and often left gaps to be exploited. However, the three starters in Thiago, Henderson and Fabinho don’t have many potential alternatives, or at least ones that Klopp trusts.
Outside of the injury issues, the players on the pitch look flat, unenergised and uninspired. Since the return of the club season following the World Cup, Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in 6 games. With van Dijk now injured, that number is likely to inflate. At the other end of the pitch, the attack looks toothless, whether it be through a lack of service or a lack of quality, the goals aren’t flowing like we are used to seeing in a Jurgen Klopp side.
“Not good, as you can imagine. “Pretty low, low on confidence – you can see that when we’re playing – energy levels low, everything.”Skipper Jordan Henderson’s comment on the mood in the dressing room.
The midfield is the focus, but Liverpool look weak from top to bottom. Is this a lack of leadership from the coach? Are the players no longer listening? Are they no longer able to do what he is asking? Lots of questions, not many answers.
Who else is to blame?
Other than the back room staff and playing staff, many are looking to the big office – more specifically, FSG, the owners of Liverpool Football Club.
After Saturday’s defeat to Brighton, #FSGOUT was trending on Twitter, and not for the first time. The fans have made no secret of their displeasure with the current owners.
Having requested miracles of Klopp from day one, FSG have asked Klopp to win everything whilst also balancing the books. Klopp may have achieved this thus far but it is clearly not a sustainable approach.
Putting the spending of FSG into context, Todd Boehly (owner of Chelsea) has almost equalled FSG’s spend over 7 years, in just 6 months.
The club was recently put up for sale however, much to the delight of many of reds worldwide. With recent interest from state-funded investors in the Middle East, Klopp may finally get owners more willing to take risks in the market.
In my humble opinion, sacking Jurgen Klopp would be the worst thing the club could do in this moment. He is one of the best coaches in football and there aren’t many you can mention in the same breath.
That opinion is shared by many Liverpool fans, who feel it would be a massive mistake to change the head coach – it was a move that Dortmund regretted in 2015.
“It might have been a mistake. Maybe it would have been better if we had changed the whole team instead of firing the coach because there are so many good players but not so many great coaches. People are always wise after the event.”Dortmund CEO in 2019 when speaking on Klopp’s departure.
Yes, Klopp needs to adapt if he wants to flip the fortune of the club and make top 4. But you can’t help but feel that he is the right man to rebuild (again). The club are in crisis, but this isn’t new waters to them. They will return to the top, as they always do.
‘at the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky’