Those of you stuck watching France vs Belgium in the World Cup semi finals on Tuesday night missed a real classic at Prenton Park as Liverpool beat Tranmere Rovers 3-2.
It was all going quite swimmingly for The Reds as they raced into a three goal lead at half time. Young players were scoring, new signings were impressing and it looked like Liverpool might run up a cricket score. And the Loris Karius came on….
You’ll probably have seen it by now. A free kick is hit, firmly to be fair, into the goalkeeper’s chest and instead of catching it or parrying it firmly away he did neither and Tranmere scored. Then Liverpool lost their heads and Tranmere scored again and Liverpool went from battering a team that have just been promoted to the Football League to holding on for dear life.
As Klopp said after the game it’s a mistake you’ve seen “500 times before”. But it comes a few days after a video came out of him dropping a ball through his legs in warm up and a few months after the worst performance ever seen in a Champions League Final. So the timing is less than ideal.
It is really hard to try and get into Jurgen Klopp’s head on this one.
He is very loyal to his players and generally believes in coaching footballers rather than recycling them. Which has been great news for Dejan Lovren’s Liverpool career. But he’s never seemed particularly fond of his fellow German. He’s dropped him about three times already. So it is very unlikely Klopp thinks Karius is the best goalkeeper in the world, when there are times he hasn’t even thought he was better than Simon Mignolet.
So what is going on?
It’s possible that he wants to sell him and is worried about resale value if you tell the whole world he’s rubbish. Or if he’s ripped his head off. It’s also possible that Loris Karius wasn’t the only one who got a bang on the head in May and he’s making the worst decision on Merseyside since they let Manchester build the canal. But it is also possible that he has had a look around, not fancied much of what is available, and is getting everyone used to the possibility of Loris Karius still playing in goal for Liverpool once the transfer window closes. Which is a petrifying thought.
Karius can look as confident as he likes in his dreadful Instagram videos.
No one is kicking a ball at him in those. Away from the Hollywood Hills and back on a football pitch he looks scared to death. And this in Birkenhead in front of a few thousand people. We’ve got pre-season games in 100,000 capacity stadiums against Manchester United. And then the real action happens. Our first away game is Crystal Palace on a Monday night where they are tight to a pitch and very vocal. Does anyone really back Karius to be able to cope with the pressure?
Jurgen Klopp hasn’t got long to decide. I wonder how many clubs will regret voting to close the Premier League transfer window before the first game of the season. The reasoning seemed to be to stop other clubs unsettling your players when the season started, which Liverpool experienced with Coutinho and Barcelona next season. But what has been sacrificed is the two or three weeks to test your squad in games that really matter. You think you have everything you need? Are you sure?
If Liverpool decide to go with Loris Karius and co. for West Ham at home on August 12th they’ve got them until January 1st, at least. You can’t win a league title in that time, but you can certainly lose it. What if he is completely gone? What if Simon Mignolet hasn’t got the fight left in him anymore
Liverpool must surely buy at least one goalkeeper between now and then. Even if it is just a reliable option on which to fall back whilst we wait for the one we want. The stakes are too high, and the current options too poor. The best they can offer is OK. The worst? Well we are currently seeing that every time Karius steps onto the pitch.
One player Liverpool do seem to be buying is Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City.
It is fair to say that Anfield Wrap contributors are very split on his potential arrival. From those who think he could be just what’s needed to unlock deep-lying defences, to those who think he is overweight, lazy and nowhere near the required quality.
With the low relegation release clause in his contract many people have said it is a risk free signing. However I worry it might signal a return to the dark days of our transfer committee of obsessing about value rather than what Liverpool actually need. That said I can see how it might work, in certain games at least. He probably won’t want to press as hard as a Jurgen Klopp team likes to, but that’s an overstated part of our game anyway.
How much can you actually press a team that doesn’t actually want the ball?
When sides like Watford and Manchester United come to Anfield they just launch the ball as far away as possible and get men behind the ball. You try and press and counter attack that. We’ve often found a way to beat these teams, sure, but sometimes we’ve looked a bit predictable and one-paced. Someone who is able to offer something different and unpredictable could be the difference for Liverpool. I’d have certainly preferred him on the bench in Kiev in May than what he had. Although I’d have preferred him in goal too.