Jurgen Klopp has rejected criticism of striker Roberto Firmino ahead of the Merseyside Derby this weekend, despite the Brazilian’s poor form in front of goal.
The boss said he has to be different to people in the “outside world” and recognise all the little influential “moments” his No.9 pulls off during games.
As quoted by the Liverpool Echo, Klopp said Firmino’s lack of goals over the last 12 months is “not even close” to becoming a problem for him.
“I don’t know when that will be a problem for me, but at the moment, it is not even close to becoming a problem,” he said. “These are the times where I have to be different to the outside world.
“If I would judge moments as much as you have to and that is not just seconds or games, ‘moments’ can be a period, but for me it is just important how influential the player is and how he works for the team.
“Now we lost the last Premier League game, before that we won them all and Bobby didn’t score but Bobby was incredibly influential.
“It is always clear with a player like Bobby, if he is not scoring, then you realise that even he can lose the ball from time to time and then you add on that he doesn’t score and loses these balls, and all of a sudden you ask ‘is that Bobby Firmino?’ Yes, it is.
“He scored twice for Brazil and he is in top shape to be honest. He will play as long as he can.
“So it is normal that you discuss it and we discuss performances, both individual and as a team, but not in the same way as [the media].
“Yes, we want him to score and to get into the positions to score and yes, he could have scored twice, maybe, against Aston Villa early on.
“I know that, I don’t like it, he doesn’t like it, but it’s not the one thing I think about when I think about Bobby, obviously.”
It’s hard to not agree with the boss, while it’s unusual for a striker of a top team to only score once in his last 19 Premier League games, it’s not really his job.
Firmino creates pockets of space for Mo Salah and Sadio Mane – without him, our goal-scoring duo wouldn’t be quite as potent.
There is no denying it, though – Bobby should be finding the back of the net himself more often, like he did in 2018 and 2017.
With the addition of Thiago Alcantara, we may now actually find the Brazilian carving out more chances for himself – and he will score, as he’s shown on the international stage this week.