Liverpool’s 2020/21 season hit a new low on Sunday.
They trail Manchester United by six points in the Premier League and have now been dumped out of the FA Cup by their arch-rivals.
While nobody is ruling the champions out of the title race just yet, it looks as though the Champions League poses the only opportunity for silverware this season.
There’s no doubt Jurgen Klopp’s side have been unlucky with injuries this campaign, while some questionable refereeing decisions haven’t gone their way.
But it’s not all down to bad luck.
We’ve identified 11 mistakes Klopp has made this season which has cost his side.
Before you all accuse us of being #KloppOut, we’re certainly not. He’s done absolute wonders at the club and will always be a club legend.
However, with the benefit of hindsight, we’ve identified a few decisions that may have contributed to Liverpool’s slide. It’s worth noting that Klopp may not have been solely responsible for all of them and the blame needs to be put at the door of FSG.
Not signing a centre-back in the summer
Even back in the summer, there were calls for Klopp to sign a back-up centre-back. Dejan Lovren had left the club and, while he was fourth choice, there were no moves to replace him. It left Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip as the only senior central defenders at the club. And we all know how that went…
Not signing a centre-back in January
Okay, judging by Klopp’s quotes last week, this might not entirely be on him.
“I am not a five-year-old kid any more and if I don’t get what I want I start crying,” he said.
“Most of the time in my life I didn’t get what I wanted, so pretty much used to that. We talk about a centre-half, and yes, it would help 100 percent.
“We discuss the situation pretty much on a daily basis, and I make recommendations. But I cannot spend the money. I don’t make these decisions. There are people who are responsible for the whole thing, and I cannot make their decisions.”
Can we blame him for the failure to replace the injured Van Dijk and Gomez? Probably not. But having led Liverpool to a Champions League title and the Premier League crown, surely he has enough of an argument to force the owners’ hand?
Not signing Timo Werner in the summer
Okay, this might sound strange given Werner’s struggles at Chelsea but he’d have been absolutely perfect for Liverpool.
However, the club refused to pay the relatively small £45m release clause despite the RB Leipzig wanting to join. Given the German’s ability to play both on the left and as a centre-forward, it would have given Klopp more options and would certainly have given Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino something to think about.
Not selling Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane in the summer
This is easy to say in hindsight but it’s clear Liverpool’s frontline needs freshening up. Look at the difference Diogo Jota made when he was fit.
Jota and Werner in, while cashing in on Salah or Mane? Both Salah and Mane turn 29 in the coming months and were probably at the highest value of their career. That value is now tumbling with age and form and the chance to cash-in may be gone.
Signing Thiago in the summer
Thiago is one of the best midfielders in world football. But when Liverpool spent £20m on him in the summer, a few eyebrows were raised.
Firstly, he turns 30 in a few months. Secondly, his injury record isn’t great – something we’ve already seen since he arrived at Anfield. But, most importantly, he doesn’t fit into the ‘full throttle’ style Liverpool have found success with under Klopp. He slows down the play and takes many touches before trying to play that killer pass. That money could have been spent on a centre-back…
Allowing Georginio Wijnaldum’s contract to run down
We’re not privy to the contract negotiations between Wijnaldum and the club but surely Liverpool should have sorted out the Dutchman’s future by now? Winaldum has been one of the club’s most important players and allowing him to leave for a free in the summer is a bad move. Not to mention how the uncertainty regarding his future must be impacting him.
Not signing a better No.2 than Adrian
Imagine the champions beginning the campaign with Adrian as their back-up goalkeeper. He’s played twice in the Premier League this season and conceded NINE goals – seven to Aston Villa and two against Everton. Klopp has seen sense and upgraded Caoimhín Kelleher to Alisson’s deputy.
Not selling Divock Origi
This may seem harsh given his cult hero status at the club. His goals against Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham will always be remembered but he’s simply not good enough to be playing for one of the best sides in Europe. His time us up.
Not giving Takumi Minamino more gametime
On a similar note, why does Klopp keep playing Origi over Minamino? He’s started just twice in the Premier League this season and has played just six minutes in the top-flight since he started – and scored – during the 7-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Playing Diogo Jota vs Midtjylland
Liverpool had already finished top of their Champions League group. So why on earth did Klopp field a starting line-up containing Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Mohamed Salah but – more damagingly – Jota. During the dead-rubber, which ended 1-1, Jota limped off with minutes remaining due to a knee injury. He hasn’t played since and could be out for a number of weeks yet.
Playing a strong side vs Aston Villa in the FA Cup
On a similar note, why did Klopp play an incredibly strong line-up against a bunch of Aston Villa kids in the FA Cup? Against youth players, the likes of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah and Mane all started. In this congested campaign, was it necessary?
Calling out Man Utd’s penalty record
“I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five-and-a-half-years,” Klopp said. “I’ve no idea if that’s my fault, or how that can happen.”
Klopp was right but it reminded everyone of Rafa Benitez’s ‘facts’ rant against Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. And we all know how that ended.
It’s evidence that United had got under Klopp’s skin and he probably shouldn’t have let it.