Jurgen Klopp is only partly to blame for Liverpool’s dreadful defence

Against Sevilla, Liverpool looked like they were going to make a mess of it... and eventually did


Wednesday night was the first test for Liverpool in The Champions League under Jurgen Klopp and they looked like they were going to make a mess of it, before recovering to actually play quite well, before an all too predictable ending. And people say you have to adjust your style to play in Europe. Not at Liverpool you don’t. We’ll stick to attacking well and defending dreadfully if it’s all the same to you.

In defence of the defence, Liverpool haven’t actually conceded a goal at Anfield in the Premier League this season. Although it also should be pointed out that Arsenal and Crystal Palace didn’t do much attacking, and Hoffenheim weren’t that good and still scored two.

It only took Sevilla five minutes to realise that just putting a ball into our box is normally enough.

Fluff a clearance over to PaddyPower.com, where you’ll find the latest Football Betting

Let’s analyse that first goal for a second. Firstly, Emre Can gets caught ball watching. Actually, that’s a bit generous. Emre Can gets caught waiting for the ball to come to him whilst he thinks about what he’s going to do with it and how brilliant he is going to look doing it and how everyone is going to chant EMRE, EMRE, EMRE!

Emre Can is the only player I have ever seen who is consistently surprised by the existence of an opposition. He just wants to do boss things on the football field and look gorgeous doing it. It’s not his fault these lads in other shirts keep taking his ball, is it?

There are rumours Emre is running down his contract to move to Juventus.

I reckon he just wants to video himself kicking the ball round a five aside pitch and do shampoo adverts. Which sounds alright to be fair, if there is a market to it. Good luck to him.

After that Sevilla work the ball left in a reasonable enough way before putting a tame ball into the box for Lovren to deal with. Lovren does not deal with it. Instead of kicking the ball he kicks an area where he presumes the ball is and misses it. What is he supposed to do, look? Who’s got time to do that? It’s fast footy you know.

But still, Sevilla don’t have to score. There are six Liverpool players in the box and only three Sevilla ones, so as long as we are all marking players everything should be fine. Unfortunately the defender nearest Ben Yedder, the man who was Sevilla’s top scorer last season and who we probably should have a look at marking, was Alberto Moreno. So yeah.

Actually, Moreno played well last night. He was great for our opening goal and generally used the ball well and got stuck in. This was annoying though. Because he has actually got back to help.

He just doesn’t choose to get anywhere near the fella most likely to kick the ball in the goal.

I don’t know if he’s thinking Lovren will clear it or about a YouTube video he saw of a dog on a skateboard earlier in the day, but he might as well be on the halfway line for all the use he is in our box.

A lot has been made of Klopp’s system and how it will always concede goals. I’m not so sure. Of all the goals we have conceded this season, and it is now a lot, I can only really think of the second Watford one where we were punished for being so open. For not having enough men back. The rest were set pieces or stupid footballers doing brain-dead things.

Take the second goal last night, for example. We are set up fine. There are enough players back to deal with it. But Jordan Henderson gets dragged out of position running after a ball, or a player, or a stick someone has thrown and Emre Can is having a really good think about what shirt he is going to wear when he plays for Emre Can FC, and the back four don’t really do anything at all. So Sevilla score.

Individual mistakes can happen in any football team, although Liverpool seem more capable than most of making them.

There is, however, a remarkable refusal to ever bail each other out. Lovren could have bailed Emre Can out and then shouted at him to wake up but he chose to miss the ball instead. Moreno could have bailed Lovren out and shouted “ROUND WHITE THING MATE” at him but he chose to stand around doing nothing instead. They just don’t seem that interested.

I think defending has gone out of fashion generally. I blame gifs and showboating and FIFA (the computer game, not the governing body. But let’s blame them too). Everyone wants to do the dead good attacking thing and no one can be bothered with the boring kick-it-out-of-danger thing. No one has ever come up with a group celebration or a team handshake for a great slide tackle. Which is a shame really. Maybe then some of our defenders might do one.

We’re basically only interested in Bantz now. Two-nil wins are alright for other, proper football teams, but far too dull for Liverpool. Where Instagram trumps interceptions and communication means tweeting each other good luck messages on international duty instead of talking to each other on the actual pitch.

Jurgen needs to get a grip of it soon, or it might become another season which promised so much but delivered so little and he might become another manager who got Liverpool attacking well but didn’t win a trophy. I’m sure he is just as frustrated as I am, but here are some ideas for him if he is struggling:

  • Improve communication by learning each others names and inserting “Move over there” and “volley it away now” before them in a sentence. Practice in a classroom first. Then try it on grass.
  • Rebrand defending into something cool and hip that our players can get on board with. Get some YouTube lads do to a Sick Tackles video to a Skepta track.
  • Make a 40 foot MAN ON banner for Emre Can on The Kop
  • Show our defenders that video of poor Bobby Firmino crying on the final whistle and shout IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT??!!!

One of those might work. Something needs to. It’s Burnley at home on Saturday and we need to try and get up for that one. If not, Chris Wood will barge right through us like Jonah Lomu on those poor English lads in the World Cup and we’ll be left feeling sorry for ourselves again. Come on Liverpool. You can do it. I promise to celebrate every clearance like a goal on Saturday.

It’s all part of my Make Defending Sexy Again campaign.

Slide courageously into a post over at PaddyPower.com, where you’ll find the latest Football Betting

What do you think?