The Matty Lawrence Column: Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr. Klopp?

 

By Matty Lawrence

 

Hands up who else feels thoroughly duped by the management abilities of Jurgen Klopp?

 

Lie to yourself if that makes you feel better, but I have finally seen the light.

 

After numerous transfer windows and multiple months at the helm of Liverpool Football Club, I can now admit to myself that the club have been treading water under Klopp’s stewardship, at best. In fact they’ve probably dipped at least a chin under the surface. Give Klopp too many more months and I think we will see a metaphorical head fully submerged.

 

This weeks calamitous defensive performance away at Sevilla in the Champions League was the final straw. Three-nil up at half-time, top spot in Group E secured and a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League almost confirmed, Klopp and his team thoroughly capitulated, conceding three second half goals to the Spanish team.

 

As usual with this Klopp Liverpool team, it wasn’t just the capitulation, it was the woeful manner of the capitulation that deserves all the criticism. Just how many more of these performances is it going to take before Jurgen Klopp realises he needs some defensive help?

 

Not that a Liverpool fan needs to hear it from the Man Utd camp, but Rio Ferdinand is not wrong when he says, “Liverpool don’t know how to defend.”

 

Thanks Sherlock Ferdinand, I whole-heartedly agree.

 

Ferdinand was polite enough to acknowledge  the brilliance of Liverpool on the counter attack, and in the final third as a whole, but he continued, “when you have to sit back and defend, soak up the pressure, they have not been able to do that.”

 

Fans, opponents, pundits and journalists can all see it, so why on earth can’t Klopp? Why is he so quick to spring to the defence of his porous backline and his Teflon goalkeepers? Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet are blatantly not good enough between the posts.

 

I will reluctantly give Karius, the £4.7m signing from Mainz, the benefit of the doubt as he is 24 years of age: very young in terms of a top class goalkeeper.

 

Mignolet, on the other hand, is 29 years of age and cost a whopping £9m in June 2013. It is safe to say that LFC had their pants pulled down over that signing. I’m sick and tired of Klopp telling us what a good shot stopper Mignolet is. Any ‘keeper in a top league in any country has to be a decent shot stopper….come on, that’s the bare minimum.

 

A goalkeeper plying his trade in a side aiming for domestic and European glory must be able to command the box, have great footwork and be a calming (hahahaha) presence for the defenders in front of him. Mignolet scares the living hell out of the Liverpool defenders in front of him: you can see them visibly shaking. Mignolet has no command of his box and consistently fails to deal with crosses.

 

Mignolet has no voice either. He is pre-occupied worrying about his own performance which hampers his ability to influence the players in front of him.

 

As for those defenders, you’re being brave not to watch them from behind the sofa, as it’s akin to watching The Shining on most match days for LFC fans. Aleaxander-Arnold, Clyne, Gomez, Klavan, Lovren, Matip, Moreno and Robertson are not names that strike fear into the hearts of attacking players.

 

There’s certainly no Alan Hansen, or Emlyn Hughes in the ranks. Let’s be honest, there’s not even a Jamie Carragher in amongst those eight names. That’s no disrespect to the Liverpool legend, Carragher, because we all know he wore his heart on his sleeve and could be relied upon week in, week out. Carragher wasn’t the most naturally gifted, but I’d be picking him above anyone in the LFC squad right now.

 

Results are what matter most when  wearing the historical red shirts of Liverpool FC, and the results support this diatribe against Klopp’s backline. Away from home Liverpool have already conceded 3 at Watford, 5 at Man City, 2 at Leicester, 4 at Spurs, and 3 at Sevilla!

 

The only clean sheet that Liverpool have secured away from home was at Maribor. To be brutally frank, Maribor were so poor in that game, that Klopp  could have sent my sons U13s team out and they wouldn’t have conceded.

 

Domestically, Liverpool have conceded 16 goals in six games away from home and not a clean sheet in sight. Cue new born baby jokes!

 

Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and Spurs have only conceded one more goal away from home…combined. No other team in the EPL has conceded more goals away from home than the ‘mighty’ Reds. Nope, not even Swansea, Palace, or the woeful West Ham.

 

If those stats aren’t enough to set the alarm bells ringing, then I don’t know what is. Last transfer window, Klopp required a big time centre-half, a left back, and a goalkeeper. Liverpool fans were rewarded with Andrew Robertson, an £8m signing from relegated Hull City: hardly enough to whet the appetite.

 

The lack of signings have been reflected in the pitiful defensive performances (specifically away) of the 2017/18 season so far. Personally, I would grant Klopp the remaining six months of the season, inclusive of the January transfer window, to resolve these issues: no resolution come May 2018 and I would have no hesitation but to cut Klopp adrift.

 

The Klopp persona is based on pure magnetism, but without results, it’s totally worthless. Because it bears repeating, football is a results business, after all.

 

Left to right, Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren look dejected after the game in Seville.

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