Michael Baddeley discusses what is holding Liverpool back from being a top side.
How did we expect anything different? We go out and blitz Arsenal at the Emirates and then go to Burnley and lose 2-0. It was the most Liverpool thing to do. Media and fans, to an extent, act like it was a shock, but lets face it, it really wasn’t was it? Lets be real here, yesterday was a reality check for many associated with the club.
You can’t really look at that current squad and highlight any positives from that performance. It was truly shambolic. But overall, it could be a blessing in disguise. It’s now blindingly obvious that there is several key changes that need to happen before we are top four ready.
We need more than a left back in defence, there is no protection in midfield and we need a real leader somewhere throughout the side.
What does the defence need?
I think Liverpool fans are starting to become like a broken record now. All I ever seem to see on social media is Liverpool fans complaining about the lack of a left back who can defend. Who can blame them though? We desperately need one.
I’m not going to sit here and say Moreno is a bad player, because he isn’t. Well, when it comes to attacking ability he isn’t. But his defensive play is so poor. He’s not a left back, he’s a winger. We’ve seemingly missed our chance to pounce for Jonas Hector, but there are going to be others out there that can do a decent job. It’s just up for Klopp to find that player!
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I genuinely don’t know what we are supposed to do with the centre backs. We are yet to see how Matip performs so I couldn’t possibly say sign a new centre back because it would just be a knee jerk reaction. Klavan and Lovren seemed promising in pre-season. But after conceding five in two games I think it’s safe to say they aren’t a Premier League ready partnership,
One thing is certain though, we need a leader and warrior at the back. That person isn’t currently in the starting 11.
Midfield completely inadequate
I don’t get how it’s been over looked for so long. No matter what formation we play, the players on the park offer no protection to the back four whatsoever. For me it’s the main reason why the back four looks so poor. I know I’m about to state the obvious, but nobody to break down the attacks in the middle means the defence faces more attacks. They aren’t going to stop them all are they?
The past two games we’ve seen Gini WIjnaldum, Lallana and Hendo in the middle of the park. Lallana has operated as the more attacking of the three so can’t really be considered too much when it comes to protecting the defence.
Gini Wijnaldum and Hendo offer no coverage at all. They don’t protect the back four, they aren’t deep-lying playmakers and they aren’t dictating midfielders. Wijnaldum is an attacking midfielder and Hendo is more of a box to box player.
You’d hope that Emre Can would come in and offer some sort of solidity in the middle of the park. Klopp will see him as that cool head that just calms everything down, and rightly so. But he needs a partner. Someone who will sit back and do the dirty work so to say.
I love that we attack teams and aren’t afraid to be bold and expressive but the players we have leave the defence to exposed when out of possession. Granit Xhaka would have been perfect. Not only will he sit back, stop attacks and protect the back four, but he has the ability and skill to be able to pick out long passes from deep.
Jordan Henderson is taking a lot of stick here isn’t he? So to give him some credit, he was a real asset to us when we came so close to winning the title back in 2013/14. I’d even go as far as saying that if he hadn’t have got sent off against Manchester City then we wouldn’t have collapsed like we did. But that was the last time he was seen key for us.
A season later Stevie G would leave and Hendo was made club captain – the start of his downfall. He concentrates too much on everyone else than he does himself and it results in his own performance levels dropping.
A real leader takes a team by the scruff of their neck and drags them over the finishing line, a captain is usually seen as one of the best and most influential players in the side and Hendo lacks both of these attributes.
Another way to look at it – he’s our captain, but he wouldn’t make it into any of the top four/five midfields, let alone be their captain. How are we supposed to advance when our players are supposed to look up to such a mediocre ‘leader’.
To be brutally honest, the squad doesn’t have a leader, there’s options better than him, but there’s not a single leader. That needs to change. It’d be harsh to bring someone in and make them captain straight away. To be honest, it shouldn’t ever happen. But the fact that we could do it and the majority of the fan-base wouldn’t bat an eyelid just shows how far behind we actually are.
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’s definitely going to take time before Liverpool get back to the top. But before we even look like getting back, these things will have to be addressed.