Thursday 14 December 2017

Jurgen Klopp retains faith in Liverpool players despite FA Cup defeat to Wolves

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp still believes in his squad
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp still believes in his squad

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has not lost faith in the quality of his squad despite seeing a second-string side dumped out of the FA Cup.

Three times in the knockout competition this month the German has fielded a team lacking most of what would be classed as first-teamers, and on every occasion they have struggled - only getting past Sky Bet League Two side Plymouth in a scrappy replay.

Saturday's 2-1 fourth-round defeat to 18th-placed Championship side Wolves capped a miserable week of three home losses - including two cup exits.

With Premier League leaders Chelsea next to visit on Tuesday, it raised the very realistic prospect of four defeats at Anfield on the bounce for the first time since 1923 and only the second time in their 125-year history.

Klopp has been criticised for not strengthening in January - a month they began in second place and still in two cup competitions, just 180 minutes away from Wembley in one - and instead relying heavily on fringe players and youngsters to fill in.

It has backfired and increased the scrutiny on him and his judgement from some quarters.

"It is not about not wanting - it is about not getting the right players in the transfer window," Klopp said of his attempts to bring in new faces.

"But it is not right to judge people in a very bad moment. Faith is not something you have today and tomorrow you don't have.

"For each single performance there is an explanation. I am not sure we should look for it.

"I am never too harsh in criticism and especially you should not be too emotional in the moment when you make criticism because it makes no sense.

"I cannot change after a worse or better performance and say 'Now he's world class' or 'Now I cannot use him'.

"We have to go through situations like this and, even in the history of Liverpool, better sides lost against worse sides. That is football. I don't like it but it is true.

"I don't start doubting decisions because it makes no sense.

"We could have played better but I don't feel that they let me down.

"Hopefully we all can recover and the crowd can recover and look forward to the game on Tuesday.

"It is a home game against the leader of the league and we need everyone for the game."

The visit of Chelsea suddenly takes on a significance, both in terms of psychologically and in Premier League reality, much greater than would usually be attributed to the arrival of the league leaders.

Klopp needs a performance from his first-choice side, who, combined with the second string, have won just once in eight matches in January.

They will need to defend much better against Antonio Conte's table-toppers than they did against Wolves, who took the lead through Richard Stearman's header after just 52 seconds.

From that point it was almost inevitable which way the game would go as, after successive defeats to Swansea and Southampton, confidence is a quality in short supply at Anfield.

When Andreas Weimann waltzed unopposed through the middle of Liverpool's defence to comfortably round goalkeeper Loris Karius just before half-time, the visitors were as good as in the fifth round.

The hosts did not register a shot on target against 20-year-old Harry Burgoyne, who with just two league appearances behind him, until the hour mark and Divock Origi's close-range effort came too late to turn the result around, although the Belgium striker was denied an equaliser by the goalkeeper's legs on the line.

Portuguese midfielder Helder Costa, on loan from Monaco, caused plenty of problems with his pace and direct running, and manager Paul Lambert is hopeful of securing a permanent deal before the end of the transfer window.

"It is something brought to my attention on Friday. The parties are talking," he said.

"As a footballer and a guy you would take him, hands down. The other side of the coin, finances, I can't influence.

"As a foreign kid in Britain (he's) exceptional. He has been playing like that for weeks.

"He does things in training and you think, 'Where did that come from?'. The way the team is helps him to perform.

"Helder has been getting the limelight because of the way the kid plays but they have all been performing. We have been playing really well."

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