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Tuesday 21 November 2017

There's no defending Klopp plan

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during Wednesday night’s 2-2 Champions League draw with Sevilla at Anfield.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during Wednesday night’s 2-2 Champions League draw with Sevilla at Anfield.
Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno, left, in action against Sevilla’s Jesus Navas last Wednesday, has been found wanting a number of times already this season.

I'm sure a lot of football fans have been wondering about Jurgen Klopp in the last few weeks and find it difficult to understand how a professional manager cannot see what seems so obvious to everyone else.

Someone asked me the other day to explain what is happening on the Liverpool training ground which might allow some insight into why Klopp's seems so careless about defending and his defenders.

It's the same question which is often posed about Arsene Wenger and Arsenal and gets the same answer.

From the evidence I see when Liverpool play, I find it hard to imagine that Klopp gives a lot of time to his defence.

At Leeds if we had a bad result on Saturday, Don Revie would deal with obvious issues first thing Monday morning on the pitch and if necessary, work through drills to correct problems.

We had top quality defenders too, which always helps, but the key to what we did was the organisation and that came about through practice and repetition.

Klopp has some very ordinary defenders but I see no indication that he is trying to improve them or overcome their failings by drilling them until they are, at least, a well-organised group of players who know what is expected of them.

In his defence, there's nothing any manager can do when a centre-half has a virtual fresh air in his six yard box which Dejan Lovren was guilty of against Sevilla and many times in the past.

MISTAKES

In my own experience as a manager, if someone is making the same mistakes over and over and has been shown the error of his ways but cannot make the required adjustment, it's best to look for another player.

That's the natural law in football. If you can't do it, there's always someone behind you who can and I'm sure it must look very odd to people when a manager like Klopp appears to turn common sense on its head.

As I said, I don't know what Klopp is doing with them in training and he may well be trying to hammer some defensive reality into players who are not up to it but if that is the case, he should have acted during the summer to put that right.

I flagged the attempt to sign Virgil Van Dijk as a bit of show boating by Liverpool's owners and we know from the Philippe Coutinho saga that they have the final say on at least some transfers so I can't say with any certainty what Klopp's transfer priorities actually were.

But I think he was able to live with the fact that he didn't get van Dijk and instead threw £42m at Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, yet another attacking player.

Put it this way, I would be surprised if Klopp took his players out training today and ran Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno through the mistakes they made against Sevilla for the first goal of the game.

CHANCES

More likely, he focused on the number of chances they created or how well Moreno crossed the ball.

Everyone can see how inadequate Moreno is in terms of positioning when he's defending but Klopp absolves him of all responsibility for that and I'm certain, is telling him to push forward at all times.

Klopp is prepared to accommodate his lack of defensive ability because he believes Moreno's pace and crossing ability will deliver goals. Why else would he pick him? He can't defend properly.

Moreno must feel very lucky indeed that he is indulged in this way because the vast majority of managers would see his faults first and make the inevitable decision to get rid of him.

Klopp has done the opposite and left a much better option, James Milner and a £12m new signing Andy Robertson on the bench. That's the aspect of his management of Liverpool which seems so puzzling.

It's actually simple enough to understand if you look at the way Liverpool play. Klopp doesn't care about defending as much as he should and this will never change.

I know most people have already written Liverpool out of the title picture because of their wild inconsistency but I can't deny the possibility that Klopp will find a purple patch and a run of seven or eight wins.

They have that in them, definitely, but logic tells me that no team can do that for a full season without paying the price.

We saw that last weekend when Liverpool could have been two up against City and ended up losing 5-0.

That's Klopp's way. All or nothing.

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