Michael Baddeley discusses how defensive solidity is crucial if there is to be any success on the horizon for Klopp’s Liverpool.
“Attacks win you games, defence win you titles” – Could the advice given by former Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson be something for Liverpool to look at?
One thing I cannot stand about modern football is the way fans laud the way certain teams play and not others.
When Mourinho was taking Chelsea to league titles and all kinds of cups, his sides had the best defensive records yet people would complain that his football was negative. Maybe it was, but his defence was strong and the way he played was not only effective but successful too.
Everyone is obsessed with their team having the ball and playing free-flowing attacking football. They rave about teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund playing Tiki-Taka and Total Football. Yes these teams have phenomenal players and the way they play looks nice and pretty, and I don’t mean too disrespect the other teams from these leagues – but what opposition do these sides have?
In the Spanish, German, Italian and French leagues there are only ever going to be two, maybe three teams at most competing for the title every season. You only ever get the same teams fighting for the European places too due to the fact none of them can break into the top three. Top teams from these European leagues only require a half decent defence due to the poor attacking threat the other sides have and they can play the styles of play mentioned above because the same sides are equally as poor in defence.
So Liverpool fans wanting us to play this continental style of football is pointless in my opinion. We play in a league where arguably, any of the top seven sides could mount a title challenge due to the attacking talent across the league.
All the attacking talent of sides like Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, United and Tottenham but there’s still times when they can’t break down teams like West Brom and Watford. So often we’ve seen one of the so called lesser teams get a goal on the break and take either a point or the full three from one of “big teams”.
Why? Because these teams are so well drilled defensively. Something you don’t see this abroad. Alright these defences don’t win these team leagues, but they keep some of them up, something that means the same to them as winning a title does to one of the top sides.
Last season we saw relegation favourites Leicester City crowned champions due to their defensive steel. They were pushed right up until the last few weeks by a team who were fighting for top four in Tottenham Hotspur. Alright, Arsenal finished second. But at the start of the season who’d have thought we’d be saying that?
Like the quote says; ”a good defence will win you the league” and that’s key to league success in England. No questions asked. Leicester last season kept 15 clean sheets, conceded 36 goals, the second least in the league and they were the champions. Chelsea the season before, conceded 32 which was the least out of all the sides, finished as the champions.
Obviously attacking threat is needed as well. But all the best sides have a strong defence. Just look in the history books, the facts are there to back it up. That unbelievable Chelsea side from 2005/06 conceded just 22 goals all season, the Arsenal Invincibles conceded just 26 that season. Again, the best defences won them the league.
Now lets look at the “a good attack will win you a match” part of the statement.
It pains me to use this as an example, but theres not a better one out there. Liverpool in 2013/14 were by far the most exciting team to watch, no questions asked.
An eye-watering 101 goals scored by the men in red that season. It was unbelievable, breath-taking at that. 101 goals? Surely a team that can score that many goals across 38 games have to have the side capable of winning the league? Well naturally, yes. But that season, no. The defensive efforts from Liverpool that season were farcical. As you know, Manchester City won the league that season and it was because they were capable of defending as well as attacking.
If Klopp is to have any success at Liverpool he needs to make sure that the defence is strong. At the minute this isn’t the case and it needs addressing immediately. Mignolet and Moreno were the two evident weaknesses in the defence. The fact that they can’t really defend set pieces doesn’t help either.
Thankfully, Klopp seems to have reacted quickly. Mignolet’s days as the Liverpool number one seem to be over and in Matip we have someone who is dominant in the air. Getting a left-back must be his priority now, closely followed by a defensive midfielder. Someone who will do the dirty work in the middle of midfield and will add steel to the side.
It may have been Sir Alex Ferguson who came out with the quote but Klopp and his men really need to take what was said on board. Houllier built us up from the back, back in 1999 and that was the base to Liverpool’s most successful era of modern times. Do it again and we will be back, there’s no doubting it.
Featured Image – Sky Sports
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