Paul Stafford deplores the return of the buggy Simon Mignolet and Liverpool’s set-piece naivety.
It’s Mignolet and set-pieces again! More of the same, please! When will Jürgen Klopp learn that he needs a strong-willed defensive coach to share the responsibility and teach this team how to defend set-pieces? Time and time again it has proven to be an Achilles heel for this team, and what Klopp has done so far is not working! He continues to use the same tactics that are not working.
Gerrard Houllier had Phil Thompson as his defensive coach and they were strong in defence with the likes of Hyypia, Henchoz, Carragher, Babbel, Ziege and Hamman as the defensive midfielder protecting the back four. Rafa Benitez knew that the key to winning trophies was a strong defensive foundation to build from. Liverpool like to play the ball out of the back, however, this team with this defence and goalkeeper just are not good enough at it. They are not Barcelona and they give the ball away too easily in their own half, leading to scoring opportunities.
Liverpool have not had a decent defence since the days of Houllier and Benitez, choosing to focus instead on attack. From Dalglish’s second spell to Rodgers and now Klopp, it has been all out attack! A worrying statistic in the match against Hull is that Liverpool had 13 corners and scored none, while Hull had one and scored one. Hull City’s new signings fit right in! Where were Liverpool’s?
The Liverpool of old were backed by a very strong defence and gritty midfielders who could attack as well as defend, and yet at the same time, they were scintillating in attack! With players like Grahame Souness, Jimmy Case, Tommy Smith and Emlyn Hughes, teams knew who they were up against. The current squad is a little too lightweight and get bullied off the ball far too often.
They also had dependable keepers in Ray Clemence and Bruce Grobbelaar, giving the defenders confidence at the back. When one of those two keepers came out for a cross, they usually got to it first! And their nicknames were not ‘flappy!’ Liverpool also knew how to defend corners. But what I can’t understand for the life of me, is why don’t they put a man on the post? You can still do that in zonal marking.
There has been several instances over the years in which they could have benefitted from having someone at the post and some of those goals they gave up on corners wouldn’t have gone in.
Liverpool have been found out! Teams now sit deep and get every man behind the ball, challenging the Reds to come at them and break them down. They have been so predictable and one-dimensional, focusing on all-out attack and ‘geggenpressing’ high up the pitch, wearing their strikers down.
You don’t see Chelsea doing this. The difference is their formation and they have been solid at the back, quickly getting the ball out wide to their counter-attacking strikers. Their strikers have plenty of energy and pace in attack because they do not focus on defending high up the pitch.
Klopp didn’t bother with this transfer window. He gambled on Sadio Mané’s return to reignite their season. He gambled on a player whose head is still at the AFCON Cup. He gambled and lost!