Klopp at rock bottom in Liverpool: “We are very worried”

JYou might feel sorry for Urgen Klopp. His Liverpool FC embarrassed themselves during Saturday afternoon’s away game at Brighton when the manager stood resignedly in front of his bench and put two fingers to his lips as if trying refrain from roaring wildly in anger. Brighton & Hove Albion, in form, dominated the game in every way, having more possession and having almost three times as many shots on target; Liverpool, on the other hand, followed headlong and at times heartless. At the final whistle it was 3-0 for the English south coast home side and Liverpool had to say thank you as things hadn’t gotten any worse.

After the match, Klopp spoke about Tacheles in the media. “I really can’t remember a worse game. Not just at Liverpool,” said the coach, who worked for Borussia Dortmund and Mainz 05 before joining England in autumn 2015: today is the low point.” After 18 Premier League games, Liverpool are sinking deeper and deeper into the swamp of mediocrity, with European Cup places increasingly out of reach. Liverpool have never been worse than they are now at this stage of a season under Jürgen Klopp as coach. “Of course we are very worried,” Klopp said when asked about the situation. “How could I not after a match like this?”

Critics complain about lack of development under Klopp

He cracks in all parts of the team, also because of the increasing number of injuries to important players. In attack, we still lacked penetrating power against Brighton: the team felt the absence of Sadio Mané, who moved to FC Bayern this summer after six years at Liverpool. The few chances Liverpool created on Saturday were miserably missed by attacking players around Cody Gakpo, the only winter signing so far. In central midfield, Klopp relied on the experienced trio of Jordan Henderson, Thiago and Fabinho, who were repeatedly played in dizzying fashion by lively Brighton players. Captain Henderson heroically took on the responsibility afterwards, but didn’t show much confidence: “We have little self-confidence and the energy level is low. We must continue to fight. »

As before in the 2-2 victory against Wolverhampton and 1-3 at Brentford, it was above all the defense that lacked organization without the injured defender Virgil van Dijk. The backs of Ibrahima Konaté and Joel Matip in central defense and Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the flanks looked overwhelmed; Brighton repeatedly used Liverpool’s usual high defensive line for through passes as the flanks in particular were not sufficiently secure. Added to this were unnecessary mistakes, such as in the 1-0, when counter-pressing from Brighton – indeed a specialty of Liverpool – forced Matip to make a fatal misstep in the warm-up game. The 3-0 came from a throw-in, after which Brighton’s Danny Welbeck juggled the ball into the Liverpool penalty area and struck from close range. With a good 20 minutes to go, Klopp tried to give his side a boost with a quadruple substitution, but it didn’t change anything.

Only a few months ago in England there was no match report, no analysis of Liverpool without the word ‘quadruple’. Because last season Liverpool had the chance to win four titles at once: League Cup, FA Cup, Championship and Champions League. In the end, it was only enough for domestic cup competitions, but the fall from an almost historic season to what even Klopp describes as a ‘low point’ was swift.

Since arriving in England, Klopp has groomed the team for the vaunted “heavy metal football” with which Liverpool won the Champions League in 2019 and their first league in 30 years the following year. Many of the players who entered the field during those triumphs are still key players today. Critics therefore complain that apart from small tactical experiments, there have been no further developments. Premier League clubs can sign new arrivals until the end of January, but even before the game against Brighton, Klopp reacted angrily when asked about it: “The transfer market is not the solution for us.”

Is Klopp’s job in danger? It remains popular with fans: just months ago a huge mural of Klopp in a jubilant pose was unveiled – not the first of its kind in the city. Thanks to his merits over the past seven years, he still has credit with American owners. Klopp’s contract runs until the summer of 2026, last April he prematurely extended it for another two years. His previous stations in Mainz and Dortmund ended after about seven years. At that time, BVB even descended into the relegation zone with their former champion team. Klopp still wanted nothing to do with an alleged seven-year cycle as he faced it amid Liverpool’s false start to the season: “The situation is completely different.”

Klopp changed from his usual 4-3-3 formation to a 4-1-4-1 against Brighton. In the television interview after the loss, he said with a tortured laugh that he had come up with the idea “but to help the team, to be honest”. The plan didn’t work, “we played them into their hands.”

The coach doesn’t have much time to work on better ideas. On Tuesday, Liverpool meet Wolverhampton in the FA Cup second leg, and on Saturday also struggling Chelsea travel to Anfield. After all, Klopp finally saw something good in the embarrassment at Brighton: “It shouldn’t be too difficult to improve ourselves.”

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