There is no doubt about it, but Liverpool are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the Premier League, but I would like to argue that they will never win that illusuve trophy under Jurgen Klopp if the German doesn’t change his ways.
Klopp has been in charge at Anfield for a little over two years, and despite his side producing some absolutely majestic attacking performances, the club are barely any better off than when they had Brendan Rodgers in charge.
Rodgers had just over three years in charge, and came close to winning the title in 2014, scoring 101 goals and achieving 84 points, but missed out on their first Premier League title by just two points. While it would be easy to point to that slip by Steven Gerrard, it was his side’s inability to defend that ultimately cost them title, after throwing away a 3-0 lead against Crystal Palace to draw 3-3.
They conceded 50 goals that season, 13 more than champions Manchester City, and more than any other side in the top five. Rodgers eventually got the sack in October 2015 and replaced by former Borussia Dortmund coach a Jurgen Klopp.
However, more than two years later, Liverpool are barely any better off under the stewardship of the German than they were under his predecessor.
While the current attacking lineup is arguably even stronger than the famous Sturridge and Suarez combination of the 2013/14 season, there are no signs that the Klopp has solved the club’s defensive issues. In fact at the half way point of this season, Liverpool are on course to score less goals (82) than they did back in 13/14 and concede almost as many goals (46).
“Goals win you games. Defence wins you titles” – Sir Alex Ferguson
While there are still elements of Rodgers team still at Anfield now, after overseeing four transfer windows, nobody can argue that this isn’t Jurgen Klopps side, and when I hear him defending the way his team defend, I have no sympathy for him whatsoever. He has bought these defenders, and he is instructing them how to defend. It is his fault!
While writing this piece, i was reminded of the above quote by Sir Alex Ferguson, a man famed for his free flowing attacking football. However, the great man knew the importance of a good defence in winning the Premier League, and he should know, he won 13 of them. I decided to look back at how many goals the last six Premier League champions has both scored and conceded in their title winning campaigns, and the results were clear.
|Year||Champions||Goals scored||Goals conceded|
As you can see, especially by the 2014/15 and 2015/16 campaigns, goals don’t necessarily win titles as Sir Alex had correctly said. An average of less than two goals per game were scored by the Champions in those years, but it was their defensive records that sealed them the crown.
Let’s be honest, who would have ever thought that Leicester would win the Premier League before Liverpool did? But it happened, and Claudio Ranieri’s side’s success was built on a solid defensive base, and quick counter attacking football.
With the pace of Salah, Mane and Firmino, Liverpool have they players to be able to play phenomenally on the counter attack, but Klopp seems to be reluctant to instruct his side to surrender the ball, soak up pressure, and hit teams on the break.
As Friday nights fixture against Arsenal showed, Liverpool have a chronic inability to defend when put under pressure. Conceding three goals in less than five minutes and having to rely on their attackers to dig them out of a hole, again.
However, if Liverpool have serious ambitions of winning the title under Jurgen Klopp, the German simply cannot continue to defend in the same manner, or they are doomed to be be forever listed as the ‘also rans’.