Saturday 29 April 2017

Ronnie Whelan: Liverpool players appear to be suffering from verbal diarrhoea in the press

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Ronnie Whelan said his 'heart sank' when he saw Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Monday Night Football. Reuters / Andrew Yates
Ronnie Whelan said his 'heart sank' when he saw Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Monday Night Football. Reuters / Andrew Yates
Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

For much of the last week, I’ve found myself reading the thoughts of various Liverpool players about a range of subjects and am wondering, why? Why are they talking?

Maybe it’s just me and my memories of the club in its pomp but I’m never happy when I see more than one or two players from any club in the press unless they have a very good reason to. Wide-ranging interviews  were rare in my day and were avoided by most of the lads involved, to be honest.

I think our attitude was that there was nothing in it for us, nothing to help us win a match, so why bother?

I can well remember days in the dressing room when they came looking for a player to talk to the media and had no takers at all.

When Kenny Dalglish was manager, his press briefings were legendary and very short. If journalists got a grunt or two, they would see that as a victory.

These days, there are different demands on managers because of contractual obligations but they still don’t have to actually say anything when they talk.

They are not employed to please the media or become popular across the nation. All managers have a different way of dealing with the media. Some embrace it, some keep journalists at more than arm’s length and some just ignore the press completely.

Jurgen Klopp is media friendly and when I saw him turn up on the  Monday Night football show early in the season on Sky, my heart sank.

I don’t need hindsight to look at screaming headlines surrounding Gary Neville and Loris Karius to know how bad an idea that was and, thankfully, it hasn’t been repeated.

The reason I mention this and the fact that Liverpool’s players appear to be suffering from a spot of verbal diarrhoea is the feeling I have that a bucket of cold water might be needed and perhaps a 0-0 draw with Plymouth at Anfield will do just as well.

Klopp put out the youngest team in the club’s long history for this game, but it was still a line-up which should have been able to cope with Plymouth.

They were frustrated by some decent defending but Klopp had enough power in that team to put away League Two opposition.

I just wonder if there is a bit of complacency in the air and whether Klopp is having to work hard to keep young minds focused?

When Liverpool beat Manchester City, they were rightly praised by everyone. It was a fine result and a hugely important one in the context of Klopp’s squad development.

He asked them to win a big game and they responded with three points.

But it seems to me that after the win over City, there was just the hint of a victory lap before Liverpool travelled to the north-west to Sunderland and scraped a 2-2 draw.

I’m glad they got the draw, don’t get me wrong, but that point only became a positive thing when Spurs beat Chelsea in midweek and gave everyone a timely New Year’s boost.

Now, they’ve drawn with a team three divisions below them in the FA Cup and take on a EFL semi-final against Southampton off the back of a poor performance and a poor result.

I’m not a bit concerned about the fact that Liverpool now have to play another fixture. We saw Joe Gomez in central defence and back from injury after so long. An FA Cup tie against Plymouth was the perfect testing ground for him.

A replay is no great hardship anyway. Liverpool have no European fixtures to deal with and extra midweek games here or there will do them no harm and might do some good.

January is going to be a very important month. After the Southampton game, Manchester United at Old Trafford and a few weeks later Chelsea at Anfield. I would hate to think that anyone has their eye off the ball.

On another subject entirely, the auction surrounding Scott Hogan has made me sit up and pay attention to someone who was nothing more than a name in a headline up to this.

At 24, he’s old to be an overnight sensation but it does look like several clubs have their cheque books open and they can’t all be wrong.

Hopefully, Martin O’Neill is acting with the same urgency as three or four Premier League managers.

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