John Gibbons: It’s time to corner Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool’s biggest issue

The Anfield Wrap writer doesn’t hold back on the set-piece woes of the Reds …


Finally we have some real, actual football to watch. Weekends of shopping centres, gardens centres and pretending to like cricket are over and weekends of shouting at footballers and referees are back.

I couldn’t be happier when I jump out of bed on Saturday morning and try to work out when I can see the pub.

There is a wonderful familiarity to the return of football. The kits, the pitch, the fact that my friends still don’t know how to behave.

However, whilst some things remaining the same are welcome, it would be nice if, at some point, Liverpool would learn how to defend from set pieces.

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It would appear that there are three things in life that are certain.

Death, taxes and Liverpool conceding from the first corner of the season.

The sense of inevitability when Jose Holebas stood over the ball to take the corner in the eighth minute was only matched by the sense of inevitability when the referee signalled for another corner in the 93rd minute. In between Liverpool played some lovely attacking football.

But, you know, what’s the point?

I’ve realised I don’t celebrate Liverpool goals as wildly as I used to now. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s the realisation that we are all going to die in a nuclear war soon anyway.

However, I think this Reds outfit have actually managed to devalue a goal. They’ve made it just another thing that happens in a football match.

Liverpool scoring a goal just means you are nearer to them conceding one. Goals aren’t rare, if anything they are run of the mill. If, however, we ever manage to head a corner away, I’ll probably run the length of the pitch jumping up and down like David Pleat.

Jurgen Klopp has now managed Liverpool for 100 games. I received a text from my ever-cheery father after the game saying he should have taught them how to defend corners by now.

He has a point. I wonder whether they have tried to practice defending corners in training, but have found it difficult as they can’t find a Liverpool player who can actually take one.

As a succession of Liverpool players practice taking corners, but either fail to beat the first man or boot it straight over the other side of the pitch. Our defenders probably wonder what all the fuss is about, only to freeze like statues in shock during actual games when the opposition manage to whip in a decent ball and some big grock heads it in, unchallenged.

After the entertaining row on defending between Jamie Carragher and Jamie Redknapp on Sky Sports at the weekend, there’s been a bit of talk on the LFC social media about whether Carragher could be hired as a defensive coach to try and sort the mess out.

I’d pay Gary McAllister £500,000-a-year to come and take corners in training instead.

That might be the only way our defenders learn that, occasionally, some of them might come near to the goal.

I’m not sure Jurgen will do, but he has to do something. The German looks like he is getting sick of being asked about conceding goals from set pieces.

Well, it’s not as sick as I am of watching us do it. For all the obvious progress Liverpool have made in his century of games in charge, for all the scintillating attacking play and great nights watching The Reds, the narrative is in danger of becoming a simple one – still can’t defend.

At some point some of our attacking players might get fed up and decided to go somewhere where their goals count for more. It can’t be fun, as a front three, to ALL score and still not win.

At the moment it is only Philippe Coutinho who wants to leave, although hopefully he watched Barcelona the other night and realised they are in an even bigger mess than we are. They’ve also just signed Paulinho, the man who made Roberto Soldado look a success at Spurs.

But for now Coutinho remains a huge problem for Klopp.

He’s a manager who tries to lead with a wave of positivity, who tells everyone that everything is brilliant until we’re all ready to run through walls for him. The almost evangelical approach, turning “doubters into believers” is in danger of collapsing if your best player decides the grass is much greener elsewhere.

Doubts are creeping in at this stage, amongst players and fans, are not what the football club needs.

The phrase ‘huge period for a football club’ is overused, but this is undoubtedly a massive fortnight at Anfield. Get through the Champions League qualifier, sign a couple more top players and we’ll be talking about challenging on all fronts.

Get beat by Hoffenheim, sell Coutinho and we’ll be throwing our season tickets in the Mersey. Sorry, Jurgen. We never pretended that we weren’t all mad.

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What do you think?