Thank you Liverpool fan Nicolas Tosh – these are his thoughts – not necessarily Empire of the Kop’s.
As a Liverpool fan, the past five weeks or so has been very tough. A real struggle with very little to cheer about. Like anyone else I was fuming after Saturday’s game, a spineless performance with no positives at all.
I’ve let the dust settle and rather than just criticise everyone for being utter shite (something which you would well be within your rights to do) I’ve tried to think of a solution; put myself in Jurgen’s shoes and thought how could hypothetically turn this slump around.
I’m not a huge lover of statistics, I find they are used to make people/teams look better or worse than they actually are. However results based statistics you can’t argue with. Our record against the top sides (I always include Everton in this) since Klopp came in has been superb. We have proven we can compete with the best and get results. The problem lies against the rest of the league. Some blame it on players’ attitudes and mindsets. I think you also have to look at tactics and our defensive frailties. Liverpool concede too many soft goals. You very rarely see us carved open by beautiful football. Majority of goals we concede are set pieces, counter attacks due to over committing or (and this one annoys me the most) individual errors. This last point has being going on for years. The amount of goals given away by getting basic defending wrong is shocking. The schoolboy errors never seem to go away.
This is why I would recommend going to a back-three against the teams that set up to simply be ultra-defensive and catch us on the counter or benefit from a set piece. These teams aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary they are just taking advantage of our obvious weaknesses. Weaknesses that have been evident for years…
Let’s try and become solid and make teams earn their goals against us. Help the front men out knowing that one goal will be enough to win a game. I feel there’s too much pressure on us to score a hatful every game because we simply can’t keep the opposition out enough. Forwards and creative players have off days, that’s why it’s essential to not give away soft goals. Grind out the 1-0 when these off days come. Come the end of the season a 1-0 win is equal to a 5-2 win. Sure it’s not as exciting or entertaining but to win titles and challenge for trophies you need days where you just get the job done. Too many times Liverpool fall behind (after a soft goal) away from home and you just know the game is gone.
In net (begrudgingly) it would have to be Mignolet. I’m by no means a fan and it’s a position that needs to be addressed in the summer. Mignolet over the years has made way too many mistakes, but he gets the nod over Karius because as of right now he’s just about a better option. Karius is best off out of the limelight and being protected for the rest of this season. The lad didn’t perform and got involved in an argument with Gary Neville. Not his smartest move.
I’d have a back three of Matip in the centre with Lovren on one side and young Gomez on the other. Klavan has looked average but if Gomez is as good as we constantly are told then this formation is the perfect opportunity for him to learn and get settled in the side. The Lucas at centre-half experiment needs to be binned. He’s a player I would thank for his services at the end of the season and let him move on. He will never let you down with effort or commitment and is a model professional but the bottom line is he just isn’t good enough anymore. Some would argue he never was.
Moving on to the wing-backs. Moreno would come in on the left and Clyne would be on the right. Next my midfield two would be Wijnaldum and Milner. Firstly, Emre Can is in such bad form he should be nowhere near a starting XI. Also Klopp has said he’s been playing with a knock so now is the perfect time to let him rest up and come back wanting to prove a point. As for Milner he’s got the nod over Henderson because since we’ve heard of Henderson’s heel injury he seems to have struggled to replicate his early season form. It was the same last term, when he plays through the pain barrier he’s nowhere near as effective. I’m no expert but I’d imagine heel injuries are about as uncomfortable as they come. It’s bound to affect your touch and work rate.
Next we head on to the front-three. I would have Coutinho and Mane imitating the Hazard and Pedro roles and I’d give Sturridge the nod up top. It would basically be last chance saloon under Klopp for Studge. Let’s make no bones about it he hasn’t produced regularly at all since Klopp came in. He’s in and out of the side and lacking in confidence. I think if Klopp changed the formation and made him the spearhead it could have the desired effect and rejuvenate the lad. He would need a run of games (3/4) in a row to see if he still has his old ability. He would need to take the responsibility and repay the confidence the manager would be putting in him because if he fails it would be time to move on and find a replacement in the summer.
I’ve deliberately left out Lallana and Firmino as both players look like they need a break, which is unsurprising as they put in some serious shifts during the first half of the season. Both have lost their form of late and like Emre Can I feel a few weeks out of the side will do them the world of good.
So if I was given the chance to pick the side against a so called “bus parking” side this is what I would try. There’s no guarantees it will work but I feel it’s essential we try something different before the season ends. The only way to get out of a rut is try and change things. Doing the same thing with the same players underperforming week in week out with no success will just lead to more fan frustration. Liverpool desperately just need to win a game of football and if that means sacrificing style over substance from now until the end of the season then so be it. Let’s secure this top 4 finish and then back Jurgen in the transfer market in the summer.