Dave Davis can foresee a time when Jurgen Klopp’s credentials as Liverpool manager will be seriously questioned if the German fails to act on a number of worrying issues within his squad.
The quality of having no mercy or pity for others. There will come a tipping point in Jurgen Klopp’s reign when even his staunchest admirers will question whether he has the ruthlessness required to be successful. After a couple of years in the Anfield dugout, the summer may well be when that judgement is made.
“We had five minutes where we had obvious problems, that’s how it is. Individual problems.” Klopp’s comments after the Arsenal game. It would be incredibly harsh and unfair to castigate Joe Gomez after such an impressive season to date. Hopefully, the 20-year-old will learn from Friday night and it will make him a better player in the long run. The same cannot be said for everyone else who was culpable.
Simon Mignolet’s error isn’t an overnight occurrence or one-off blip by any means. The Belgium ‘keeper had been dropped under Klopp’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers and has been the no.1 for the great majority of Klopp’s reign. He’s been lambasted in numerous quarters and worryingly, despite the disappointment of Friday night’s second goal, it wasn’t the greatest surprise to any Red.
Mignolet isn’t on his own here in a couple of regards. Dejan Lovren has been in a decent run of form but similarly has that ‘ricket’ in his locker where an error appears around the corner. Both players seem honest enough, but the top level of football is an unforgiving place and a clear pattern has been established. Those advising the players may well concern themselves with maintaining a radio silence where the media and interviews are concerned too.
Throughout this process, Klopp has remained loyal to the pair which some would argue is admirable. Lovren had been taken off against Spurs and Mignolet dropped for a period, but both quickly found their way back in. Loyalty is usually seen as a weakness in a top manager and far better players have been cast aside in pursuit of success. No team wins a major trophy without a decent centre-back pairing and goalkeeper.
Those who defend the manager would rightly point to the progression of the side, spending power and the fact Klopp is aware of certain deficiencies within the side. The Virgil van Dijk saga combined with the natural rumours around centre-backs coming into Melwood means the manager has identified an area that needs improving.
Before Friday night, Liverpool’s defence had rightly received praise for its run of form and lack of goals conceded from open play too. Whether down to a formational switch or mindset change, improvements have been made.
The end of the season isn’t that far away though and it will prove a huge point in how Klopp is judged overall. Two windows will have passed and with Coutinho’s likely departure, funds will be available to strengthen. If a top-class centre-half and goalkeeper haven’t completed their Melwood lean then it’s difficult to see future success being tasted at Anfield. A club that exists to win trophies needs a ruthless leader at its helm. Otherwise, it’s not just loyalty to players that will be questioned.