Monday 20 November 2017

Comment: Jurgen Klopp is escaping criticism from Liverpool supporters - but for how much longer?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

“Liverpool fans will soon start to question Jurgen Klopp and his coaching staff because they do not seem to be getting to grips with the basic defending. This should have been sorted by now.”

The words of Anfield goal scoring great John Aldridge sum up the increasingly frustrated mood that prevails among Liverpool fans as they head into the second international break of the season with the same, frustratingly enduring problem undermining their ambitions.

Klopp will celebrate the second anniversary of his reign as Liverpool manager when his team do battle with Manchester United in the next round of Premier League games and while the majority of the club’s fans still adore the cheeky, affable German they have invested so much of their faith in, there will come a point where that devotion will be tested.

As centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip committed another basic defensive error that cost Klopp’s side two points in a 1-1 draw at Newcastle on Sunday, a familiar pattern of blame and recrimination began to reverberate around the always active Liverpool social media channels and yet once more, criticism of Klopp was largely absent.

While no-one would suggest a manager who took Liverpool back into the Champions League should be sacked at this point in his Anfield adventure, there should at least be some questions asked by the club’s fans over Klopp’s apparent inability to resolve defensive frailties that are not just avoidable but also repetitive.

You need to learn from mistakes in this game and that also involves working on the training ground to make sure they don’t happen time and again, yet Klopp and his coaching team do not seem to be able to resolve one of the big issues that ultimately led to Brendan Rodgers sacking at Liverpool in October 2015.

The most basic of defensive mistakes are occurring week after week on Klopp’s watch and while he admitted he was ‘really sick’ of conceding the kind of goals that have left his side seven points off the pace between set by Manchester’s top two in what could develop into a one-city title race, the buck has to stop with him at some point.

Should Klopp consider bringing in a new defensive coach to resolve his side’s glaring weakness? Does he need to be ruthless and replace his failing centre-backs when the transfer window opens again in January?

They are questions Liverpool fans are discussing privately, but their worship of Klopp has ensured that public questioning of their very own ‘Special One’ would still be considered an act of sacrilege.

It remains to be seen what happens if Liverpool lose to Manchester United in their next Premier League game and all-but surrender their title hopes just eight games into the season and yet for now, it is Klopp's players and not his own approach that will be blamed by Reds fans who have invested far too much faith in Klopp to turn on him now.

Despite Klopp's claims, there were defenders other than Southampton's Virgil van Dijk that he could have targeted last summer, with the impressive start to the season made by Spurs new boy Davinson Sanchez after his move from Ajax evidence of that.

Also, can anyone explain why Klopp continues to swap his goalkeepers at an alarming rate, or why he has decided Alberto Moreno is good enough to get into his team a year after he cast him aside for his obviously frailties? They are questions worth of answers.

Admirably, Liverpool fans have always been a little different to many of their rivals as they show loyalty to those welcomed into their inner circle, but the reality confirms that only Crystal Palace and West Ham have conceded more Premier League goals than Klopp’s side this season.

So while Liverpool fans have collectively bought into the theory that the man leading their challenge is the Messiah who can win the club their first league title since 1990, the time has come for Klopp to prove he is capable of delivering on his promise.

So far, he is falling short in that mission.

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