Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has questioned his former club’s decision not to sign a new centre-back, despite losing both Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk to long-term injuries.
Although the Reds remain just six points behind leaders Manchester United in the title race, there is a suggestion that things are just beginning to unravel for the champions, with them having failed to win in any of their last five Premier League games.
That run has seen them score just once, yet it’s at the other end of the pitch where the real problems seem to lie, with their most recent defeat to Burnley – the first loss at Anfield in 68 games – seeing Jurgen Klopp forced to field a makeshift centre-back pairing of midfielder Fabinho and injury-prone Joel Matip.
The fact that Jordan Henderson was forced to line up in central defence in the crucial clash with United last weekend was a real illustration of their defensive woes, even though the Englishman put in an admirable performance.
The Reds lost influential defender Van Dijk back in October after the Dutchman was injured in a collision with Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside Derby, before fellow centre-back Gomez sustained an injury while on England duty back in November.<
While Klopp’s men have performed relatively well without their first-choice defensive duo, the recent dip in form has led to calls for a new centre-back to be brought in, with Champions League winner Carragher suggesting that it’s ‘preposterous’ that Liverpool didn’t have a defender lined to arrive at the start of the current window.
“I believe the club’s response should have been activated on October 19, the day Virgil van Dijk’s cruciate knee operation was confirmed,” Carragher wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“Hindsight is unnecessary. I said then I did not think Liverpool could win the league unless they had a new centre-back in place on January 1. They needed one before Joe Gomez was injured. His and Joel Matip’s appearance record was informative of that.
“Frankly, it is preposterous that three months on and with the transfer window now open, Klopp felt compelled to use Jordan Henderson in the position against Manchester United.
“And although Fabinho has been outstanding, he would be more influential in midfield. It has caused a chain reaction throughout the team.
“I believe this time the club needed to react in the transfer market to ensure these most trying of times do not undermine Liverpool’s upward trajectory.
“I said in the summer successful teams need refreshing from a position of strength, and the club bought Thiago and Jota.
“Now, because of injuries, a response was needed to address a visible and serious area of weakness. That requires players good enough to start the biggest games, not to step in and do a job occasionally. To be more specific, it demanded a new centre-back.”