Editor’s Column: Klopp’s selection of Konate and Quansah is confusing

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Jurgen Klopp is maybe having his best season in terms of managerial input. He is a humungous difference maker for Liverpool.

The manner in which he’s improved players, trusted youngsters, inspired comebacks and made tactical changes within matches has been the primary reason Liverpool are joint-top of the table and still in Europe with one cup already won.

That’s before mentioning his insanely progressive use of substitutes and how he regularly uses game-changers from the bench.

So, this isn’t really a criticism of the manager. He’s been incredible. He’s the best. And I think he might well ride off into the sunset with another Premier League winner’s medal.

But I do find the games in which he’s picked Ibrahima Konate and Jarrell Quansah over the past month quite strange.

Let’s take a closer look.

Liverpool 3-0 Southampton (FA Cup) – Quansah full game (Virg and Konate half-each)

Nottingham Forest 0-1 Liverpool (PL) – Konate full game

Sparta Prague 1-5 Liverpool (EL) Quansah and Konate share minutes (Konate gets injured)

Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City (PL) Quansah full game

Liverpool 6-1 Sparta Prague (EL) Quansah full game

Manchester United 4-3 Liverpool (FA Cup) Quansah full game

–Konate plays game for France in international break–

LIverpool 2-1 Brighton (PL) Quansah plays full game

LIverpool 3-1 Sheffield United (PL) Konate plays full game

Manchester United 2-2 Liverpool (PL) Quansah plays full game

The way I look at it is, this: you want your best players available and fresh for the biggest, hardest games.

Konate is part of Liverpool’s best XI. He is one of the top defenders on the planet when fit. In fact, the only criticism you can have of him is his availability. So, it’s obvious the manner in which Klopp rotates him in and out of the side is to look after his fitness. After all, Virgil van Dijk plays every game and is looked after much differently.

But since the end of February, Liverpool have failed to win three games, two in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup. Quansah has started in all of them and Konate has not.

Let’s go through it. Against City in the Premier League, Quansah had to play because Konate got 50 minutes on the Thursday night against Sparta Prague and picked up an issue. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but did we really need Konate on the pitch for that game?

He missed the FA Cup game with United due to that same injury, but he still went away with France right after that game and played well over the international break…

But upon his return, Klopp picked Quansah against Brighton and left the on-paper easier Sheffield United game for Konate, meaning he then had to pick Quansah at Old Trafford again as Konate is seemingly not going to play two games in three or four days.

If it were me, I’d have gone Konate versus Brighton and Quansah against Sheffield United, meaning Konate would be fresh for the Old Trafford tie, and Quansah can come in for the Europa League tie this Thursday with Atalanta… This would then mean Konate would be ready for the more important Crystal Palace tie next weekend, and so on.

It’s possible now that Konate plays Atalanta and Quansah gets Palace, which just seems the wrong way round given the priority should be the Premier League.

It’s important to note that Quansah has been exceptional. His mistake against United last time out aside, the 21-year-old has way outperformed expectations. He’s composed and physical and does well alongside van Dijk whenever called upon.

United target our right-side though, as do most big teams, for a few obvious reasons. Firstly. van Dijk is on the left and they want to avoid him. Secondly, there is often space left at right-back when either Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez or Conor Bradley are playing that role inverted or just as a natural attacking fullback.

If I had one criticism of Klopp in this season and perhaps a few that have gone beforehand, it’s an insistence on picking strong teams in dead-rubbers or less important ones before more important ones.

One of Jota’s big injuries a few years back came in a Champions League tie with nothing riding on it. And we’d have beaten Sparta Prague without Konate.

Who knows if we’d have fared better than two draws and one win against United and City if Konate had played. We never will.

But hopefully the Frenchman will at least be fully fit for our most crucial upcoming fixtures. As City and Arsenal will only lose or draw one of their seven games left by my reckoning which means we have to finish perfectly. Old Trafford was the slip-up. No more room for another.


More Stories Ibrahima Konate Jarrell Quansah


  1. Spot on. Well written. Not a condemnation of Klopp but something he can look at for improvement.

    On another subject, Liverpool needs to work on putting together a well structured “football-playing” back line. By that I mean having left footed CB and FB on the left. The current backline, particularly VVD can’t hold and play with the ball. It’s affecting how Liverpool play out from the back or through a press. Lack of a left footed CB and left footed players generally in the team is affecting how Liverpool can quickly get into rythm

  2. Quansah has been better than Konate over the course of the season, everyone swoons over Konate’s physicality, but he could so often avoid all of those monents by reading the game better. Quansah has had the higher profile error but Konate has had several go under the radar and last time out against Atalanta, he did not cover himself in glory

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