Liverpool feels the pressure – Klopps captain causes trouble
Two games, three shots on goal: Although opponents Manchester United suffered four injuries, Liverpool were back to 0-0 – and the captain caused trouble. Are the Reds cramping in the title race?
Luckily, Jürgen Klopp is one of the last in top soccer to refrain from spasmodically holding his hands in front of his mouth when talking. That’s the only reason everyone could find out on Sunday what they really thought about Liverpool’s 0-0 win at Manchester United. “Fucking hell, what a shit game,” he shouted to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he shook his hand after the final whistle.
And indeed, it was a “shit game” in many ways, a paradoxical one at that: It brought the Reds back to the top of the Premier League and at the same time sowed new doubts that they would stay there for a long time to come. Whatever has hit Liverpool with three wins in nine matches since New Year’s Eve: It’s not a coincidental results crisis.
Klopp also blames injury misfortune – that of the opponent
There is a mixture of helplessness and frustration; the self-evidence is gone, and no one really knows why. Against Bayern (0:0) Liverpool fired two shots on goal, at Old Trafford it was one. And that a player, even captain Jordan Henderson, ignored Klopp’s outstretched arm in his substitution and therefore had to listen to a few clear words would not have happened a few weeks ago.
“Our start was brilliant, just the way we wanted it to be,” Klopp stressed, but in the subsequent flood of injuries “we lost our rhythm and didn’t find it again. It was the part of his analysis that he fortunately didn’t say to Solskjaer’s face during the handshake: Klopp explained the weak performance of his team in all seriousness with the fact that his opponent had suffered four injuries in the first half.
We played with ten and a half men. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
After half an hour Klopp lost Roberto Firmino (“A catastrophe!”), who was bent over, left the stadium with crutches and at least on Wednesday against Watford, if not four days later in the derby at Everton will be missing. But United’s bad luck was hard to put into words: Solskjaer had to change Herrera (21.), Mata (25.) and Lingard (43.) in the first half and therefore left Rashford on the field, who could only limp early.
“You might not say they were after him, but definitely there were some fouls against him. Normally you have to take him down after five minutes,” said the Norwegian about his ankle injured striker. But so “we played with ten and a half men. I’ve never experienced anything like it before”.
Klopp thinks it’s “positive pressure” – “but I don’t have to play either”.
The fact that the Liverpool professionals did not know how to take advantage of these setbacks, but instead allowed themselves to be completely confused by them, proves their momentary cramp. “We played around without any real tempo,” Klopp had a wrangle, who had spent large parts of the game gesticulating wildly and, after his captain (72nd), also changed the pale Mohamed Salah (79th). “We made it too easy for United to defend against us.” From the midfield the appropriate impulses were missing again, in the attack there was a lack of movement and vitality against a once again low opponent. Klopp missed “passion”.
Has the desire to win turned into the fear of losing, the loss of the first championship title in 29 years? Does Liverpool, who still had seven points above the competition on the afternoon of 3 January, feel the pressure? “From my point of view, it’s a very positive pressure,” Klopp said after the “two points lost” on Sunday. “But I don’t have to play either, I just sit here and tell some stupid stuff. That’s easy.”