- October 27, 2017
- Tanay Kumar
We will never let you walk alone. We’re a helpful bunch.
Got a debut for your PL club as a teenager? Nerves? We’ll help you open your tally.
Newly promoted to the PL from the Championship? Yet to register your first points on the road? Not to worry. We’ll make you feel at home. At home!
Is your team relegation-threatened? Fearing the axe? Have no anxiety, YNWA!
Wembley curse? Oh come now, surely a little visit from us should put that right.
The only ones we’re not helping at the moment are ourselves.
For all the recent chatter about Spurs – they’re on the up, they’re one of the best, most consistent sides in the country, Pochettino has them well drilled, Kane is actually Jesus reborn etc. – they weren’t actually spectacular against us. They were not at all tested and were simply gifted the flattering scoreline.
Perhaps the only positive from the trip to London last week was Mohamed Salah (had to keep him grounded after the world cup berth and national hero status, didn’t we?), and the willingness to make a bold call to change personnel and the system, a third into the game (let me know in the comments section if there were others, I’d love to hear some).
The biggest negative of many was probably the further splitting of our global community, with some abusing Dejan Lovren after some costly errors, while still others took to questioning if Klopp should remain as Liverpool head coach (I mean, really?! Broke already? Though only Sturridge was made of glass.)
But if I’m being honest, I don’t believe we needed the likes of Pochettino and his well-coached Spurs to remind us of our problems, that might’ve slipped the minds of some of the faithful around the globe, if only for a few days after our exciting Slovenian adventure (with the 7-0 thrashing of Maribor).
Before we evaluate the current state, let’s all agree on one thing. Klopp and his staff are only too aware of where we are as a team. He has shown this, more so in recent weeks, with something akin to rants against his own players at the pressers. He isn’t oblivious to whatever’s happening.
Okay so let’s get down to it then.
The Current State
Defence – Shambles, no question. At times, it seems beyond coaching. I can imagine any forward in the league licking their lips at the prospect of 90 minutes against our backline. There’s never been a better time in the recent history to bag yourself that “Anfield goal” to brag to your proverbial grandchildren about.
But are Klopp and his staff being too stubborn about it? Carra’s recent comments shed light on how 4 of the current back 5 are still “Brendan Rodgers players” two years after Klopp took over the reins.
Surely in the time that has passed, Klopp would’ve been able to gauge and then take calls if required. Retrospectively, it seems unfathomable that some of them still find themselves around L4.
Why have we been so stubborn for such a long time? I will never truly believe that Van Dijk was our only target in the summer, but the way it sounds, he was apparently the only one who could improve our defence? Never buying that.
Midfield – I focus on the three in the middle of the park here. The community is more divided on this one. While some are not looking beyond the defence and the missed chances, there are some who say, that with Henderson, Milner, Can and Wijnaldum, we lack the consistent quality to win continuous games from the centre of the park.
The disciples of this school of thought maintain that as long as we continue with these “mid-table” midfielders, we will remain a mid-table club. It’s hard to argue. Our midfield does not possess the qualities or indeed the variety as a trio of Mascherano, Alonso and Gerrard did. The key word here though is consistency.
Would Henderson, Can, Milner or Wijnaldum make the Premier League team of the season?
Any Youtube video of any of our current midfielders will be packed with quality. They can do great things. The difference is, a Mascherano, Alonso, or Gerrard (or any of today’s top midfield players) would have one off game in five. Our current lot has one good one in five.
They are consistently mediocre for large parts of the season. It is genuinely difficult to see us winning a league title without consistent quality, like some of our rivals possess.
Honestly, how many Liverpool central midfielders do you have in your FPL XI? While that does look like a silly question, it is reflective of the confidence in these players to be amongst the numbers, with goals or assists.
Despite my analytics and data sciences background, I’m refraining from delving deep into stats here, but sometimes, as we tell our customers too, you don’t need the numbers. Would any of our central-three make it to the Premier League team of the season? Did they last year? Will they next year?
Attack – Sure, everyone is crying about our spurned chances. We need to understand that our attack is one based on different principles. It is a conscious choice. We play in a fluid system with dynamic “forwards” as against the usual ‘one or two number 9s supported by a CAM and wingers’ system. Our incredible chance creation is a fruit of this.
Unfortunately, however, our incredible conversion rate too stems from the same source. We need to improve our finishing, especially at a time like this, where the defence is wilting under the slightest pressure. While our shots on goal are third only to Man City and Arsenal this term, our conversion rate is better than only six teams in the league! Just not clinical in front of goal.
Firmino looks jaded and out of ideas at times, Sturridge seems to have lost some pace and that killer instinct, and is otherwise simply too unreliable with fitness for the moment. We don’t have a number 9, who will get those 20 goals a season. Salah remains our best bet.
So where does this leave us, apart from, of course, a well-deserved 9th in the league table? It leaves us with a global LFC community that is vulnerable, edgy, and more divided in opinion than it should be. We’re already waiting for January!
Defence – My opinion for a while was that there were only about 12-15 top centre-halves in the continent that could improve us, and we were not in a position to acquire their services. The thought process was, “Yeah Lovren isn’t the best. But you think Ben Mee is going to come in and improve this back four?”
But now I do believe that a number of players could come in and improve the back line. A lot of regular 7/10 defenders. You don’t need 9/10s to fix what our problem is. It might sound stop-gap, and it kind of is. But we can’t wait for even longer, and then finally get our 9/10 man when we’re beyond repair.
I miss a vocal leader at the back who would make temporary enemies, but long-term admirers
To save the season, we need some fresh new faces to genuinely ‘lead’ the backline and perhaps a three-man defence wouldn’t hurt either. I’m sick of a ‘Troy Deeney’ being enough to occupy our two centre-halves for ninety minutes while our full backs hope to keep pace with opposition runners beyond play.
If we don’t get “ball playing” centre-backs, then by all means stick Can along with them in a three-man setup.
Reds legend Phil Thompson, in his most recent interview, mentioned how Klopp needs to work better with the resources he has at his disposal until he can bring new faces in. The suggestion to have one of his assistants (and Buvac and Krawietz are two of the best) organize the defence from the technical area throughout the ninety particularly stood out. They need help.
But we need change. Sometimes one needs change for the sake of change. We’ve seen it work with businesses. It’s not the worst time to try here now.
Midfield – There appears to be some work going on here. Keita will definitely improve the average. As will sticking Phil or the returning Lallana into the central three. Oxlade Chamberlain doesn’t hurt either. Sure he was not top-priority, but his addition does improve the squad. We have a decent bench after years, one that can effect change in a game or allow us to change systems mid-game.
Attack – Our forwards are in the rhythm of creating; now they need to convert. Getting a pure number 9 will not hurt either. There were good options available in the summer; it surprises me we didn’t try beyond Solanki. In the least, it gives the added option.
When Sturridge joined Liverpool, I was certain he’d do well. Simply because he ‘works’ for the Premier League. I’d seen enough of that at Bolton and Chelsea. He gets into the box, he scores goals. Perhaps we need more of this at the cost of some creation?
I’d like the option. Even more of the thus far bright Solanki would please me. I can already see Solanki and Brewster (top scorer at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India after consecutive hattricks against USA and Brazil) leading the line and terrorizing defences. Went a bit far, did I?
There are tons of better solutions, but in short, I guess like most others, I want change. Opponents cannot look at their fixture against Liverpool and go “All right lads. Turn to page Liverpool on your books. Easy? Any questions? Right then, let’s have a go at these Reds.”
That’s pretty much how we’re treated today, be it by Big Sam, or the (not so) Special One. I want the opposition to look at the team sheet and wonder what they need to do to get past this Liverpool and how they can stop us from scoring. I want their best heads to pour over the table and be forced to think! It cannot be so straightforward.
The next few months and our role as supporters
At the end of the day, however, it will continue to be hard for a while. We cannot just go out there and get two top centre-halves in January (fingers crossed nonetheless). So let’s not go apesh*t when it doesn’t happen.
What we can hope for is some system changes followed by improved performances and consistency. Some more responsibility from our senior players and the boss.
Question, criticise, don’t abuse. Don’t force anyone quit social media just because he missed a header.
And what they need is a unified, empathetic, and constructive LFC family to support them. Question, criticise but don’t abuse. Don’t force anyone quit social media just because he missed a header. It’s shameful and embarrassing for the fanbase which is otherwise known for its famous unconditional support.
So take a step back, tell yourself that “We have problems, they will take yet more time to be addressed, the gaffer is only too aware of them”. You will then realize there is only one question to be answered – Do you trust him?
I think he’s merited that trust from the faithful in these past 24 months. Again – Question, criticize. Don’t abuse and demand heads. We’ve seen Klopp do amazing things in Germany. We’ve all felt that tingle together when the Liverpool rumours first emerged, and we’ve all felt the elation when he was announced.
We mustn’t forget that it’s a long way to the top and despite that, he’s taken the risks, he hasn’t played it safe, he’s succeeded and failed.
So now more than ever, stick together, back the team till the final whistle to push the Reds over the line. It starts with Huddersfield. Ynwa