How Have Things Been Allowed To Fall Apart Like This?

In his interview with ITV after last night’s match, Jürgen Klopp said something about the second Wolverhampton Wanderers goal that I thought was curious. I’m paraphrasing, but he essentially said, “They walked through out midfield, which shouldn’t be allowed to happen”. The reason I thought it was curious is that that is precisely what has been happening time and again this season, but the manager and his back room team don’t appear to be doing anything about it. Everyone has seen it happen, but nothing seems to have changed tactically in order to reduce the number of times that we’ve seen opposition teams act as if our midfield is non existent. One or two passes and teams are in on goal, but we haven’t altered the way that we play in any way, shape or form. Was it Albert Einstein that said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result was a sign of madness? If he was right, our manager and his back room staff are positively loopy. Klopp has seen it, but what’s he going to do about it?

The idea that we don’t need a new midfielder during the January transfer window is laughable. I am actually of the belief that the manager thinks we do too. As anyone who has ever negotiated anything in their life before will know only too well, one of the key things to do when negotiating is act as if you neither want nor need the thing that you’re trying to buy. With that in mind, I’m not surprised that Klopp keeps talking about our midfield as something that he’s perfectly happy with. If we’re trying to buy a few different players, it makes negotiations so much more difficult if the team we’re buying from can point to the manager saying we’re desperate for new players as a reason to bump up the price. At the same time, turning around to the press and saying that he thinks the midfielders he’s got aren’t good enough is hardly going to inspire the lads that he’s having to send out and play week in, week out. The major concern is if I’m wrong and he actually believes all of what he’s saying. The question is, then, where did it all go wrong?

Sentimentality FC

I love Jordan Henderson. Anyone that has read pieces that I’ve read on here of follows me on Twitter will know that I’d run through brick walls for the captain. When there was debate around the idea of him signing a new contract, I was 100% on board him getting whatever he wanted, such is the extent that I love him. The problem is, I’m a supporter. My job is to feel like that about the players. I’m allowed to be sentimental and never want the lads to leave. Unfortunately, it seems as though the manager has been caught up with the same sentimental feelings that I’ve been experiencing. Their rumours at the time of the contract renewal were that it was Jürgen Klopp who had stepped in to ensure that Hendo was offered a new one. That might well have been the right decision if Jordan was to step into the James Milner role and Milner allowed to leave, but instead they’re both on our books when one has just turned 37 and the other can’t run any more. That is just a microcosm of the issues that we have in the squad at the moment.

I totally understand the argument that the way that the manager gets players to give everything for him is by offering such a level of loyalty, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be better as a football club. The manager should be blaming the owners whilst players are moved on, with Gini Wijnaldum’s situation being a good example. Admittedly, Wijnaldum left on a free, but we have almost certainly missed chances to improve our squad by moving on players that are about to see their legs fall off. Has Joe Gomez proven that he’s worth holding onto rather than selling? Has Alex Oxlade Chamberlain? Naby Keïta is talented enough, but it’s clear from recent team selections that the manager doesn’t trust him, to say nothing of his inability to stay fit. There are only a handful of players that we can point to as being reliable enough to not pick up niggling injuries, yet there seems to have been no attempts to move any of them on and bring in more physically robust options. Sadly, it’s time to disband Sentimentality FC and bring in new blood.

Improving When You’re On Top Is Key To Success

Liverpool fans will always struggle to give credit to Alex Ferguson, for obvious reasons. The Scot was the bane of my life when I was younger, leading Manchester United to title after title as the Reds struggled for any sort of meaningful title challenge. Part of the reason for his success was that he knew when it was time to refresh his squad, happily letting players like Jap Staam and Roy Keane leave the club, without sentimentality getting in the way. When we came within moments of winning a quadruple last season, Jürgen Klopp and his team should have used the opportunity of being on top to make wholesale changes to the playing squad. It is easy to understand why the manager and his back room team will have thought that the players could go again, but that requires them to ignore the fact that we’ve actually been playing pretty poorly since last February. There has been a huge drop off in a group of players that simply have too many miles in their legs to carry out the instructions that the manager is giving them.

Many will blame the owners and I certainly don’t think that they should escape without any criticism. Yet I don’t think it’s entirely about money. According to reliable local journalists, there was money available for Aurélien Tchouaméni in the summer but he chose to go to Real Madrid. That suggests both that it’s not about finances and also that the manager and his staff know that they need a midfielder. If rumours are to be believed, they decided not to buy Matheus Nunes when they had the chance but are considering doing so in May. It feels as though something is broken in the Liverpool transfer strategy that has been so good for so long. I think the idea that Pep Ljinders is suddenly in charge of more than before is an odd one that is espoused by those looking for a scapegoat, but at the same time I also believe that something has changed and it is not for the good. Too many players have been kept around for too long, whilst replacements aren’t being sought in a sensible way. Brighton seems a terrifying prospect.

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