Monday 24 October 2016

Klopp squad changes are summer certainty

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates with Kolo Toure at the end of the match
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates with Kolo Toure at the end of the match

Jurgen Klopp doesn't trust the players he inherited from Brendan Rodgers and I'll bet he cannot wait to get this season over with so he can make real changes.

Year after year, month after month and game after game, Liverpool have been making the same mistakes and Klopp's arrival has not really changed that a great deal.

That was the lesson from the defensive chaos which played such a huge part in an extraordinary game against Norwich.

Individual blunders, collective mistakes and just poor defending have been persistent problems for a whole series of managers and I don't think it is too difficult to figure out the reason for that.

It's the players. They are not and haven't been good enough for a long, long time.

Successive ownership regimes and managers have built several teams since the turn of the century and each one shared a brittle quality and a scarcity of true super-stars.

Klopp has arrived and is dealing with that legacy. He has no super-stars and he cannot rely on his players to delivery consistency.

I think his impact on the team is obvious. I don't think Liverpool would have won a game like that in the months before Klopp was appointed and his mission to give the club back some confidence has delivered some unlikely results.

The difficulty is that we have no guarantee that this group of players will display the same resolve and determination in the next game or the one after that and Klopp can only give them so much of himself.

That's why I think there will be a clear-out in the summer.

It must be very frustrating for Klopp because this Premier League title is there to be won.

Liverpool are ten points off second place and it is very clear that any team that can string together a decent series of wins will be in with a fantastic chance of winning the title.

I must say, I was beginning to think that Arsenal might just do it this time. Their maddening inconsistency hasn't changed from the previous eight seasons but everyone else has dropped below their level.

Arsene Wenger had a big chance to silence doubters with a result against Chelsea but they lost and doubts bubble to the surface again quickly.

Here's a statistic which makes for very bad reading for Arsenal fans. It's now 30 games since the Gunners won after they were trailing at half-time. Four and a half years.

I've always been a big fan of Wenger but this is a very stark record. In 30 games, he could not inspire his players to turn a game around. He lost 19 and drew the other 11.

It was notable after Liverpool's win over Norwich that the players praised Klopp's half-time message and explained that their boss had told them to "find a way to win".

Wenger doesn't seem to be able to do that from a losing position or at least, his players do not seem to respond to him.

Across the top clubs we see the same. I'm sure Klopp drills set-piece defence into his players on the training ground but time and again they let him down and with schoolboy stuff.

I'm sure Manuel Pellegrini is working endlessly to make his defence better but without Vincent Kompany, it just doesn't tick.

All of this contributes to a strange sense of borderline hysteria surrounding this season.

So much has happened in such a short space of time and there is the sense that it's not over yet.

Think about it. Chelsea and Liverpool have both sacked managers and Manchester United are not far off doing the same. Everyone seems to think that Pellegrini is on his bike in June and that Pepe Guardiola is coming in.

The most stable club in the top half is Spurs and that's a first. Normally at this time of the year we've either had a White Hart Lane sacking story or are about to have one.

Perhaps this general air of uncertainty is having an impact on the players. It certainly looks that way.

I don't think we've had a season in the Premier League era with such poor quality teams on show.

That's why Klopp will not be alone when he sends out his scouts and hands his wish list to John Henry at the start of the summer.

With the possible exception of Spurs, all the top teams badly need to be resuscitated.

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