John Gibbons: Jurgen Klopp is being rewarded for sticking to his guns

The Anfield Wrap writer also believes Mohamed Salah is better than Neymar…


I took Liverpool’s defeat to Spurs in October badly. In my next Paddy Power column I dropped pretty much everyone. From the goalkeeper to the tea lady.

I believe I had a mixture of youth players and Kenny Dalglish playing in the next game against Huddersfield.

A week or so later Tottenham beat Real Madrid and I took that badly as well. I wrote something saying that Spurs were on a different tier to Liverpool and to be fair, that is correct. A current look at the Premier League table shows that Liverpool are in the European places and Tottenham aren’t.

Spurs have lost three of the last five and now sit below Burnley. I still reckon Liverpool will do well to finish ahead of a good Spurs team. But, it shows how quickly things can change in football and how, as fans, we are all capable of a bit of knee-jerking. Even those of us who laugh at fans of other clubs doing the same.

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Liverpool fans were downbeat after dropping points against Chelsea at the weekend. “We always throw leads away” we all moaned. Yet that draw, against the reigning champions who played really well on the day, are the only points Liverpool have dropped in the last five league games.

Which suggests, that most of the time, we get in the lead and stay there. We just don’t remember those instances quite as well. The points thrown away stick in the mind longer, the grudges we hold against the players we don’t rate is always close to the surface, ready to come out at the next opportunity.

A tough night in Seville, four days after the birth of his first child, saw the pitchforks out for Alberto Moreno after an almost flawless start to the season. That it took so long for the people desperate to slaughter him to be given the opportunity to do so, despite him playing more minutes than any other outfield player apart from Joel Matip, shows just how well he has done.

But one bad twenty minutes of football, and I admit he was absolutely dreadful, and people want him banished forever.

But Jurgen didn’t budge. He picked him again against Chelsea and was rewarded with another good performance. Whilst fans will chop, change and execute at the drop of a hat, a manager needs to keep the faith in those he has invested in. If he’s good, and correct, he’ll be rewarded. Just as Jurgen Klopp is now.

He took some criticism for rotation at the weekend too. Last year he didn’t rotate much in this busy period and by New Year the players looked dead on their feet. This year he has looked to tackle that early.

On Wednesday he rotated again, with a league first start for Dom Solanke. He was rewarded with a fine attacking performance by those who he picked and those he brought off the bench.

But had it gone differently when Liverpool were 1-0 up and Stoke had chances while the ‘keeper tried to get himself sent off?

Who’d be a manager, when even 3-0 wins are dependent on a bit of fortune.

Luckily Liverpool have Mohammed Salah, their own piece of good fortune in that no other club in the world, not least Roma who had him, seemed to notice is better than Neymar.

Seriously how on earth did this happen? The Premier League’s top scorer for 2/3rds of a Gylfi Sigurdsson. Someone call the police, there’s been a robbery in Rome.

Mo Salah looks so good at the moment it is like someone is cheating.

If you were playing your mate on FIFA you’d accuse him of boosting all the player stats when you weren’t looking.

He’s faster than everyone else, he hits the ball harder than everyone else. He was only on the pitch 20 minutes on Wednesday night and he scored more goals than Swansea have managed since mid-October. He’s on another level at the moment.

I mean Manchester City are going to finish on 200 points, so we are all just messing about anyway. But it is pleasure to watch such brilliant attacking players at the moment. Jurgen will stick to his guns and keep them fresh, he has plenty of them now, fingers crossed.

And hopefully Liverpool will keep on picking up points and hope for a Devon Loch at The Etihad.

Maybe Pep Guardiola will get an Asbo for assaulting opposition players and it all falls apart. Stranger things have happened.

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What do you think?