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Thursday, March 9

LFC: 4 Things Jurgen Klopp Should Not Ignore Again at Anfield

1. Spine and foundations so far

Liverpool fans still yearn for the spine of Reina, Carragher-Hyypia, Alonso-Mascherano-Gerrard, Torres that Rafa Benitez created. Since those star names left, though, they’ve never been replaced with anything like the same quality. For the last four years Liverpool have needed a goalkeeper, a left-back, a centre-back and a defensive midfielder. They need leaders. They need players who won’t succumb so easily when the going gets tough. They need players who will turn up on the big occasions.
Instead, despite the changes Klopp has made, they still have an issue – whatever the reasons for it – when playing against lower-half teams, as evidenced by the embarrassing capitulation at Bournemouth, and defeats to Burnley, Wolves, Leicester, Swansea and Hull. Liverpool’s two most successful Premier League-era managers, Gerard Houllier and Benitez, both built their sides from solid defensive foundations and Klopp can no longer ignore the need to do the same this summer. His side have scored more goals than any other in the league this season so far – it’s the defence that continues to undermine them.

2. Too slow to make changes in Basel

At half-time in the Europa League final last May, Liverpool were on course to return to the Champions League just seven months after Klopp’s arrival at the club. It would have meant more pulling power in the summer transfer window and elevated the club to Europe’s elite competition (where they’ve resided just once in the previous six seasons).
Sevilla’s goal just 17 seconds into the second half cancelled out Daniel Sturridge’s first-half strike, and Klopp’s side spent the rest of the match looking shell-shocked and chasing shadows. Concerning, though, was the manager’s failure to make changes as Sevilla cut through the midfield with ease. Klopp’s first sub arrived in the 73rd minute, Joe Allen adding a body in the central areas where Sevilla were getting so much joy. Too late, though: it was 3-1 by that point.

3. Overestimating squad strength

Before Klopp’s appointment, it was widely suggested that Liverpool also spoke to Carlo Ancelotti about being Rodgers’ successor. It was claimed, however, that Ancelotti felt a new spine of players would be needed in order to achieve success, whereas Klopp believed the squad was a good one.
After his first match in charge, the boss said: "We don't have to sprinkle magical dust on them: 'And now you can play football'. They know how to play." You could argue that too much faith has been placed in players who have proven time and again that they are not good enough – especially to be regular starters – for Liverpool.

4. Fitness failings?

A debatable one, especially among certain Twitter sports fitness coaches (oh, hi there Raymond) – but one that certainly has increasing evidence. Klopp’s decision to play an almost identical team at Sunderland, making just one enforced change despite fewer than 48 hours since his side had played an energy-sapping match at home to Manchester City, signalled the start of their downturn in form. No wonder Liverpool were slow and error-prone at the Stadium of Light, drawing 2-2 with a team that had just lost 4-1 at Burnley.
And no wonder the month that followed saw Liverpool overpowered and outpaced by Plymouth, Wolves, Southampton and Swansea. This is Klopp and his coaching team’s first full season without a winter break. Perhaps their approach needs tweaking ahead of next season when European football of some sort will also be on the calendar. The goalkeeper position hasn’t been solved, the centre-back area is as bad as it ever has been, there are questions over the midfield, and there’s no 20-goal-a-season attacker. Such long-term issues need sorting.

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