Martin Skrtel was obliterated by fans and pundits alike following Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat to Southampton at St. Mary’s on Sunday.
The Slovakian made his long awaited return to first-team duty from the bench at half-time, with Jurgen Klopp worried booked Dejan Lovren was going to get himself sent off.
But Skrtel’s introduction visibly ruined our defence. He gave away a penalty and made mistakes for two of the goals that we conceded – rushing out to win possession – failing, and leaving space in behind.
Without him our defence has been seamless recently, and this statistic tweeted by BBC 5Live tells us everything.
Liverpool conceded as many goals in 45 mins with Skrtel today as they had done in previous 795 minutes without him pic.twitter.com/Al8DwV80c9
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) March 20, 2016
Jon Flanagan probably made a mistake for Southampton’s first, but it’s the unsureness and worry that Skrtel spread in the backline that made his introduction so costly.
Klopp should have brought on Kolo Toure, who’s been faultless whenever called upon, but chose to give Skrtel the opportunity with Liverpool already two goals up.
This was a grave mistake, and really, the manager’s role in Southampton’s comeback was as pivotal as Skrtel’s.
Going forward though, Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren simply must be our first-choice pairing.