This is a guest contribution by Constantinos Marcou
Liverpool are a club who are looking to win their first Premier League title since 1990, and their first Champions League success since the Spaniard Rafael Benitez’s era in 2005. Liverpool, who are currently off the pace domestically and despite it being very early in the campaign, looks like a season of playing catch up to the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham who are currently leading the way at the top. Despite dominating in almost all of their fixtures that they have played so far this season, their goalkeeper has remained a major hindrance to them. Jurgen Klopp is currently in his second season in charge of the club, is still to win any silverware with the club after coming close on two separate occasions in the EFL Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley in his first season in charge where they lost on penalties to eventual winners Manchester City and in the Europa League final where despite leading 1-0 in the first half ended up losing the match 2-1 to Spanish side Sevilla. Liverpool started the current campaign away to Watford at Vicarage Road, and that game very much summed up what was coming in the fixtures ahead and characterised the team as a whole, despite all the attacking threat they have at their disposal, exciting gifted players such as Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Phillipe Coutinho et al, their defensive frailties often cut out the great effective attacking work that they do. Unfortunately, it saw them drop two points in a 3-3 game, and it is not just in that particular game where they have been exposed defensively but on another few occasions.
Liverpool on their day, can beat most sides in world football, but lack a natural world class central goalkeeper between the sticks. In the January transfer window they were linked on numerous occasions with Brazilian international and Roma goalkeeper Allison, but the move failed has so far failed materialise. Jurgen Klopp has been criticised by pundits and former players on a few occasions in not fixing that particular issue, and many of their goals that they concede are easily avoidable. When you arrive at a club, there are some if not all, managers who look to rebuild the structure and personnel of the club when it needs changing in order to compete with the competition around you, however with Klopp it can be said that when building the house of the team he started building it from the top downwards rather than the other way round. When you build a new team looking to compete on all fronts in a long marathon season, you need to have great strength in depth, where every player puts in a real shift for the team and have a solid spine that runs throughout the team, from the goalkeeper right up to the main striker – the number 9. It is fair to say, Liverpool can and most certainly should compete at the very top of the English and European game like they so often did during the glorious 70’s era. In almost every match they have played asides the home fixture against Manchester United where the away side adopted a rather cautious pragmatic approach they looked vulnerable and when their defence is being countered on, they look like a side that is going to concede a goal or two. If they are to mount a serious title challenge then these mistakes have to be cut out. In some cases, against the with all due respect to the smaller teams in the league, they should adopt a pragmatic approach like a Jose Mourinho side often does, where despite it being very unattractive and unambitious on the eye can help determine whether come the end of the season you will be winning the league and other major honours or being the club who is looking on enviously. Jurgen Klopp is a completely different manager to Jose Mourinho, and is seen more as an attack minded manager compared to Mourinho who adopts a more defensive approach. However, in some games where edging an opponent out with a closely fought game and score line sometimes it can be seen a positive to see the game out and show your ruthless side to your game and true championship credentials and hold what is there rather than chasing more goals, this pragmatic approach wins you titles. Former legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once famously stated “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” This quote can be well recognised and reflected his true success during a highly successful tenure there as boss of Manchester United, where he led the club to countless Premier League titles, a Champions League title after beating Chelsea on penalties in dramatic fashion, a Club World Cup and many FA Cup and EFL Cup successes.
It is very early days in Klopp’s managerial career at Liverpool, however in an industry where there is countless pressure in a much-driven results first over performance business, he needs to start winning trophies and major honours. Klopp just like Mourinho needed to, needs a stepping stone to work from at his club, where last season’s EFL Cup and Europa League successes were very much the pinnacle for the Red Devils in order to finally awake the sleeping giant of Europe to give them the confidence and stepping stone in order to battle for greater honors this season. Liverpool despite being knocked out of the Carabao Cup away at Leicester in September still have the chance to win some silverware when the FA Cup begins in January. The cup competitions are where Liverpool’s focus should lay, where winning such an honour would go a long way for the club to use it as a stepping stone for the manager to work with to bring greater success at the club for when the club looks to compete for big trophies on a regular basis. Along with hopeful cup success for the club, signing a proven world class goal keeper will go a long way in stabilizing the entire team and returning the club where it belongs – to the top of the English game, and competing with the likes of the powerhouses of Europe – the Barcelona’s the Real Madrid’s and the Bayern Munich’s of this world.