Are these the problems that Liverpool need to address?
It has only been a little over four months since Liverpool and Everton played the 225th Merseyside Derby – a tedious affair that turned out to be manager Brendan Rodgers’ last game. Despite the early success; particularly in the second season, which saw the Reds score 101 goals and secure a second place finish, the tide began to turn against the Liverpool manager. It has to be said that crashing out of Europe against Basel and Besiktas surely did not help matters, and by the time he was sacked, Rodgers became the first Liverpool manager not to win a trophy after 3 seasons since the 1950s!
He left the Anfield outfit with a win percentage of 51% (85 wins from 166 matches with 39 draws and 42 losses), going out with a whimper. Meanwhile, most Liverpool fans were giddy with excitement about their shiny new toy of a manager by the name of Jürgen Klopp. After all, minus the immensely disappointing 2014/15 Dortmund season, they were getting the hottest managerial prospect on the planet. The ownership of Liverpool; Fenway Sports Group, who are perhaps more famous in the US for the Boston Red Sox; a historically miserable/cursed team that has won three titles in the last 12 years under the new regime, was universally applauded for making the switch. The script for a rapid turnaround into title contenders was perhaps already written.
Yet, here we are in early February and Klopp’s Liverpool are in 8th place, tied with their ‘youth academy’ at Southampton on 34 points, some 11 points behind the top four. In an admittedly small sample size of 27 games in charge in all competitions, the German “saviour” has won 12 games for a 44.4 win percentage, which as you can probably figure out is worse than that of Rodgers. If nothing else, the rollercoaster that Klopp has led the team on has been entertaining – defeating Chelsea (though that win appears less impressive in hindsight), the 4-1 triumph at the home of Man City, the 6-1 dismantling of Southampton, or the nine goal thriller that was the game against Norwich – all had more than their fair share of theatrics.
The losses to Newcastle, Crystal Palace, 3-0 to Watford and 2-0 to West Ham would probably fit better in the horror category, though. But, like all pieces of entertainment, this Liverpool season is subject to opinion, commentary and criticism, and there have been some interesting ones. For example, the first ever supporters’ protest/walkout over exorbitant ticket prices, scapegoating of Emre Can and Simon Mignolet and Christian “worse than Balotelli” Benteke or Klopp’s own criticism of his team have been the most notable ones. Having put all the critical talk and context behind us, let us examine just what has gone wrong for Liverpool this season.
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