Monday 26 September 2016

'If one game should change my mind then I would be a real idiot' - Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool's transfer policy

Burnley 2-0 Liverpool

Chris Bascombe

Published 22/08/2016 | 02:30

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp before his side’s clash with Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp before his side’s clash with Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

The triggers of discontent are pulled earlier every season.

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Whether it is buying the wrong players, failing to sign enough players, picking the wrong team or simply losing a match, the first false step causes the game's legion of the entitled to yell "sell" and "buy" with indignation.

It is a world Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp did not have to inhabit during his debut season in England, as he was given the time to impose his vision, but Saturday gave him a taste of Anfield's annual recycling of discontent.

Liverpool continue to operate on the extremes, prompting quiet and not-so-quiet confidence of a title or top-four challenge when they win, and prophecies of impending doom and enthused responses to claims someone wants to buy the club when they lose.

Timid

Within a few minutes of Liverpool's timid defeat at Burnley, Klopp was dismissing the notion that he needed to rethink his plans. "If one game should change my mind then I would be a real idiot," he said.

Burnley's Sam Vokes celebrates scoring their first goal. Photo: Reuters
Burnley's Sam Vokes celebrates scoring their first goal. Photo: Reuters

Asked about further additions, however, he repeated that they were possible. "The answer is I don't know, we will see. It was an experience we don't want."

Certainly, this was the kind of unimaginative and physically meek performance it was thought would be banished this season. Yet the problems were not new or especially surprising.

Issues raised but buried after the opening-day win at Arsenal could no longer be shrugged off as peripheral. At Turf Moor they looked fundamental.

James Milner may be an option at left-back, but he is not yet comfortable in the role. It is inconceivable there is not an affordable and superior alternative to Alberto Moreno, dropped for this game, in the scouting dossiers.

Burnley's Andre Gray scores their second goal. Photo: Reuters
Burnley's Andre Gray scores their second goal. Photo: Reuters

There was no central midfielder of authority, and when Burnley let Liverpool keep the ball they did so with a purpose.

Once Sam Vokes had secured a second-minute lead, Clarets manager Sean Dyche was astute to recognise that if you let certain Liverpool players have possession deep enough they do not have the range of pass to do anything purposeful.

Daniel Sturridge operates in the wrong zones, reserving all his tricks for when he is 60 yards from goal but looking tentative when challenged to run beyond defenders. He needs to rediscover the yard he has lost following last season's injuries.

Only Philippe Coutinho offered a threat, and his shots were also -limited to distance.

Klopp pointed out that Emre Can and Lucas Leiva had been injured, while the potential of Marko Grujic was evident during his cameo. The answer to midfield imbalance could still be within.

Sadio Mané was also missed and it would stretch credibility to argue that Liverpool have problems creating and scoring, given how they played eight days ago.

Nevertheless, having thrilled so much on their opening day, this incarnation of Liverpool followed the bloodline of those who have flattered to deceive for the past 20 years. Excelling against the 'elite' is pointless when beaten by teams whose chief ambition is staying in the division.

Not that Liverpool's deficiencies should be the sole focus. Credit Dyche for exposing them and the combination of goal-scorers Andre Gray and Vokes has the capacity to trouble every defence, particularly when counter-attacking.

Gray took advantage of Liverpool's lack of conviction and struck up a formidable strike partnership.

Vokes was never 100pc when Burnley were last in the Premier League and he, too, demonstrated what a difference he will make.

Matured

"He has matured a lot since then," said Dyche. "The last time we were in the Premier League he caught the end of it. It can take time to be clear of an injury, both physically and mentally, and you can see he's got his fitness back to where it should be. For him to score that goal was great for him."

Dyche could also be satisfied with the debut of Belgium midfielder Steven Defour, who lasted an hour of scurrying around before tiring.

The manager was cautious about suggesting that his £8m arrival demonstrated that Burnley were operating in a new financial reality.

"The market's as hard as I've ever seen it," said Dyche. "Particularly for clubs like us."

Whatever the imbalance off the field, this was another of those occasions where it was difficult to identify financial inequalities on it.

Telegraph.co.uk

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