John Gibbons: Remember Liverpool you’re still really good at football

Everything went wrong against Red Star Belgrade but everything will be fine if they get back to basics this weekend ...


I thought Red Star Belgrade were meant to be rubbish? Someone definitely promised me they were rubbish. Or maybe they are rubbish and we were just even worse. My, my, Liverpool were poor. The players looked like they’d never met before. Or played football. Or used their legs.

It was such a mess of a performance it is hard to know how to analyse it. If you were hoping for a five things you’ve learned piece that neatly summarising all of Liverpool’s issues into neat boxes, you’ve come to the wrong place. What you’ve got instead is a fan who spent two hours rocking back and forth shouting WHY ARE YOU ALL DOING THE WRONG THING at the TV.

Joel Matip (R)

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It is tough to be too critical on a defence that has looked so solid all season. Although Joel Matip might consider if the common denominator in Liverpool suddenly looking shaky at the back, is him. He is probably not to blame for Allison not getting anything on the second goal, but let’s not rule anything out.

As you’ll learn in this article, blame is currently being found in the most curious places.

The midfield has been struggling for a while now, somehow managing to look short of everything all at once. We have certainly missed the dynamism of an Oxlade-Chamberlain or a Coutinho, someone prepared to break the lines and join in with the attack.

Naby Keita was bought to replace that, but for one reason or another hasn’t been able to show too much of it. But, if the knock-on effect of that is a midfield that is more solid, no one told the lads playing.

Wjinaldum, Milner and Lallana didn’t make a single tackle between them. It all looked so easy for the opposition.

There seems to be gaps everywhere around our midfield at the moment. I don’t know if they are not mobile enough, not positioned correctly, or just leave them with too much of the pitch to cover. Either way they are spending far too much time chasing shadows and passing to the opposition.

The front three should have had enough to bail us out, but rare moments from Sadio Mane aside, they were largely ineffective too. Daniel Sturridge missed an absolute sitter early on at 0-0 and then looked so determined to make up for it, he forgot that he was  allowed to pass to someone else.

Is this part of a general selfishness that has creeped into our forward line? It is hard to say for sure. They say the best strikers are selfish, and Mo Salah spent plenty of last season being very direct, but we didn’t mind because we were scoring.

But just something about this season makes you feel the lads up front aren’t enjoying playing with each other quite as much. What happened to the big, fun, group celebrations where they all do something zany? More of that please!

But there is also the possibility that the problems are not being created on the pitch, but off it. Just before last season’s Champions League Final Željko Buvač, who has worked with Jurgen Klopp throughout his managerial career, left Liverpool suddenly and with little explanation.

As is ever the case on the internet, silence has been filled with conspiracy theories and now Buvac was responsible for all the things Liverpool were doing right last season. But of course, none of the things Liverpool were doing wrong.

It seems unlikely to me that the fella who put the cones out was actually Bill Shankly in disguise and no one noticed. I’m also slightly confused that this exposure of Jurgen Klopp as a brainless fraud who was just doing everything Buvac was telling him, has also coincided with Liverpool’s best-ever start to the Premier League. But he has left and we were rubbish, so it’s hard to argue with the facts.

With or without our Bosnian genius who is presumably going to get the Real Madrid job any minute, I still think we’ll be fine.

Jurgen Klopp has said we need to get our mojo back. I’d take some balls to be honest. But either way, can we remember we are actually really good at football when we visit Watford on Sunday please?

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What do you think?