Wednesday 17 January 2018

Ronnie Whelan: Honesty not enough for Liverpool... they need more quality

Read Ronnie Whelan's exclusive column in The Herald every Monday

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and teammates dejected after losing the match
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and teammates dejected after losing the match
Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

It always comes down to quality in the end. Manchester City have too much of it when they are in the humour and Jurgen Klopp doesn't have nearly enough.

As a demonstration to John W Henry and the Fenway Group, it was a very effective and while everyone will be be desperately disappointed to lose a Wembley Cup final in a penalty shoot-out, the gap between restoring Liverpool to the very top and finishing runners-up was clear to see.

Investment is needed urgently and this proved it, there was honest effort in abundance but Liverpool need more.

Klopp has addressed the issue of character and seems to be winning the battle to make his team believe but he needs better players to take the them to another level.

The last time we were here, Liverpool waved the white flag against Aston Villa and this was an entirely different performance. Liverpool dragged themselves into a game which should have been out of sight for City but finished extra-time looking like the winners.

But brittleness is still lurking and we saw it exposed in the worst place of all - the penalty shoot-out.

Philipe Coutinho looked destined to miss from the moment he set off from the half way line and tripped himself up with a routine which Dan Biggar would have been proud of.

It didn't fool Willy Caballero who had one of those days in a football match that belong in daydreams. Three great penalty saves won the League Cup.

After a week being told by most of the world that he shouldn't be playing, he did as much as Simon Mignolet to bring the game to sudden death. His save from Daniel Origi in the last half of extra-time was exceptional.

I don't think Liverpool can complain about the result and around Wembley after the game, there was a general consensus. Tried hard but lacked a bit of class.

City could have and probably should have had two or three goals in regulation time with Raheem Sterling missing two absolute sitters and Mignolet touching a shot from Sergio Aguero onto the post.

I said a few weeks back that Manuel Pellegrini must be out of his mind with frustration trying to manage his squad and somehow, he has managed to get them playing again when they looked down like they didn't care just a few weeks ago.

I think the club has prioritised the Champions League but they've picked up the first trophy of the season now and have a bit of momentum and you would like to think as City fan that they would knuckle down and make a big push to chase down Leicester.

Manchester City have a touch more class in almost every position than any other club at the moment and indeed, since the start of the season but the big difference now is that Vincent Kompany is on the pitch to keep them honest.

With Kompany fit and returning to the form which makes him such a big, big player, City are hitting form at the right time.

I saw that in their Champions League performance in the Ukraine and there were moments yesterday when, not for the first, it struck me that they should be out of sight in the Premier League race.

Leicester's dogged pursuit of the title has now been joined by Spurs and who would have predicted that, even a few months ago?

Louis van Gaal's rollercoaster season has staggered into positive territory again and yesterday's win over Arsenal and the mouth-watering prospect of a Europa Cup clash with Liverpool in a few weeks has pushed Jose Mourinho into the background, at least temporarily.

It has been that kind of season and Klopp hasn't had a moment to take a step back. It has been a remarkable introduction to English football for him and no let up in sight.

Liverpool play Manchester City again on Wednesday and whatever faint hopes of qualification from the Premier League route which remain will rest on them going a step further than a draw.

Somewhere, amidst all the chaos, I hope he is finding time to think about who he wants to buy.


Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport