???️ How does Jurgen Klopp fix Liverpool’s defensive problems in the short-term?

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On Tuesday evening, I had the unfortunate pleasure of watching our Carabao Cup trip to Leicester in O’Neills bar, on Hanover Street in Liverpool. When I say ‘unfortunate’, I do of course mean the actual game I was watching, not the bar itself (which was lovely). Despite looking ‘OK’ to ‘good’ in the first half, this soon tailed off after Phil Coutinho was pulled from the game at half time, and we were dreadful in the second half. I’m sure you’re all already aware of what went down in the game, but defensively again, we also all know that we had some issues. Jon Flanagan looked way off the pace, while 31-year old Estonia national team captain Ragnar Klaven looked like an understudy to 20-year old Joe Gomez. I would actually make the case that both goals were a bit unlucky (one being an absolute worldie from Slimani that even Leicester fans looks surprised to see) but I would only get slaughtered on Twitter for ‘being too nice’ and ‘making excuses for poor performances’. The fact of the matter is, both goals could’ve been dealt with better, the first goal in particular. We actually deal5 with the initial corner very well, with Gomez making a very good header away. All good, not too many problems there. However, it’s the second ball and the return from this initial header where we fold. Flanagan loses a soft header on the left, albeit, to Wes Morgan, and from there, it just feels like too many players have got out of the penalty area too quickly from the corner, because from having ALL of our players in the box when the initial corner is delivered, we have just 3 (outfield players) in the box 12 seconds later when the ball lands at Okazaki’s feet. And from there, it is unlucky for us. It’s a shithouse shot that takes a deflection and trickles past Ward even though he can do nothing about it. Despite not even reaching the end of September yet, there already seems be a ‘crisis’ or ‘meltdown’ among fans and pundits about Liverpool’s defenders for the season. This may be all be with good reason. After all, we’re conceding sloppy goals like the Leicester opening goal on Tuesday, and the Burnley goal on Saturday at Anfield. And now, people are piping up with their ‘Klopp Out’ nonsense on Twitter. Excellent. Maybe I’m being a bit deluded when I say that I see absolutely no positives from Liverpool sacking Jurgen Klopp right now, and 99% of the fanbase agree with me. The people who are piping up are the ‘glass completely empty’ people. I got a message straight after the game on Tuesday from a good friend who, bless him, is rather pessimistic. The message simply read “Please tell me you’re as worried as I am” to which I simply replied, “No”.  “Why?” he says, “I’m not Klopp-out but you can’t tell me he doesn’t look clueless. If you’re not worried I don’t think your seeing the big picture to be really honest mate, we’ve just lost to Leicester’s reserve team, we have a team that on paper should have finished the last 3 matches after 20 minutes, we don’t have a good enough leader on the pitch anymore, and we can’t win a match or even score without Mané or Salah” STOP. PANICKING. What I’m failing to understand with people who have this perspective (and I’m truly sorry for using you as an example if you’re reading this) is what they think will happen if we change our manager. We’ll still have the same set of players, we’ll still have the same back 4, but all that will happen is a new guy will come in, with new ideas and philosophies, and we’ll have to start our progress all. over. again. It may be a problem that we struggle for goals without Mané and Salah, but when they do play, we play some of the best football in the league, maybe even in Europe. The 3rd goal against Hoffenheim in the Champions League qualifier was one of the best moves I have EVER seen from ANY team. Heavy-metal football. So what’s the solution for now? I’m seeing the same complaints about Klopp on Twitter every time we lose a game. Mainly that ‘he could’ve bought another defender in the window, but chose not to’. Alright, well that isn’t going to change until January, so is this the only record we’re going to hear until the New Year? Life is going to be shit if it is. Klopp needs to think about this tactically. Times like this is where he really proves his managerial ability. What does he need to do here before January to help us start winning football matches again? Unfortunately for poor old Ragnar, I think he really needs to be shoved down the pecking order (not that we he has far to fall). Right now, you would argue that without Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez is more of a 4th choice centre-back, but I think that needs to change. I think that with the option of Trent AA at full-back there for us, Gomez needs to be the defensive partner to Joel Matip. Ahead of Ragnar Klaven, ahead of Dejan Lovren. This may seem rather controversial, and I think in all likelihood it’s not something that we’re going to see. I doubt Klopp will want to instill that sort of pressure on a young lad, but why not? He has the talent. He is composed on the ball, good in the air, and a good natural defender. I feel more comfortable when he has the ball than Dejan Lovren, I simply feel he is less prone to making a mistake or giving it away. Like I said, I’m not convinced by any stretch of the imagination that this is the course of action Klopp will take. However, what I think he will do (and rightly so) is, whatever back 4 he prefers, start playing the same back 4 consistently. What I realistically imagine will happen is that, long-term, we are looking at a first choice back 4 of Clyne, Matip, Lovren and Robertson, with perhaps Gomez coming into the fold as a first choice ahead of Lovren. That’s what I feel we’re working towards. If we start playing those 4 players consistently, there will be an improvement. There can’t not be an improvement. For now, Trent AA is a good backup, and I think with a little more experience he will iron out the creases to the defensive side of his game. In short, consistency is the key, Mr Klopp. Professional football players should be able to play 2 games a week for the most part. Premier League players are among the fittest athletes in the world, and I’m not being funny, but there are more physically demanding roles fitness-wise on the pitch than centre-back. Pick a pairing, stop fucking about with it, and play them consistently.   By Ben Kelly – give us a follow on Twitter – @benkelly_10
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