COMMENT: Albert Einstein – or the people who create the inspirational quote cards on the internet – define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
If this logic was to be applied to football, then Liverpool are almost there. Another transfer window has come and gone, but yet, the same defensive problems that have plagued the Reds for years have not been resolved.
The problem last season was not how the Reds performed against the big six clubs. Oh no, their record in that respect was the best out of any team in the Premier League. There problems came from when the lower teams sat back against them.
Like when they were up 3-1 at Vitality Stadium – only to allow Bournemouth to score three goals in the last fifteen minutes and lose the match.
That calamity in early December was just the beginning.
The following game was a respectable 1-1 drawat Old Trafford, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic robbing the Reds of a memorable win by netting a late equaliser. What happened a week later? They lost to bottom-placed Swansea 3-2 at Anfield.
The next match they drew 1-1 with Chelsea at home, which given that the Blues were on top of the table and 10 points ahead of Liverpool at the time, was a good result. The week after that? Klopp’s side were defeated by 19th placed Hull City 2-0 at the KCOM.
The Reds then bounced back gallantly and defeated Tottenham 2-0 at Anfield the following week. But what about their next game? You guessed it. They were beaten. 3-1 by Leicester, who at that time were one point above the drop zone.
The idea of a new defence was realised seasons ago, made even clearer in the Bournemouth loss and was set in stone by the defeat to Leicester.
But still, still they did nothing.
After letting Mamadou Sakho leave on deadline day, Jurgen Klopp now has four centre-backs to choose from until January, while competing on four different fronts, including the group stage of the Champions League. The fact that two of those four are Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan makes the decision not to sign more central defenders even more bewildering.
The Virgil van Dijk deal was over weeks ago; Southampton said no bids were lodged from the Dutchman on deadline day. So just what was Peter Moore and the Liverpool heirarchy doing then? Twiddling there thumbs waiting for Les Reed to offer them the 25-year-old? Where was plan B, C, D, E to Z? What were they doing for the past three months?!
Problems still persist on the left-side of defence as well. Alberto Moreno has started every game for Liverpool this season. What about last campaign? Central midfielder James Milner kept him out of the side. I’m sure the Spaniard hasn’t drank some magic potion that stops him for wandering down the pitch and forgetting his defensive duties. Scotland international Andy Robertson was signed, and although he played well in his debut against Crystal Palace on matchday two, Klopp has labelled him as a ‘project’.
There is a reason the Reds’ rivals in Manchester are above them on the table right now and it is the same reason it will remain that way until the end of the season.
Jose Mourinho made big money purchases this summer and so far, the evidence has shown he has made the right decision.
Three wins from their first three games, ten goals and zero conceded. Nemanja Matic – although he’s not technically a defender – has completely transformed the United midfield whilst also providing extra cover for Mourinho’s defence – which has been boosted by a motivated Phil Jones.
Ditto for City, who are level with Liverpool on points. They identified their biggest weakness – their fullbacks – and went out and paid for the problem to be solved.
No matter how good the coach, the system, the attacking players, if you can’t defend in the Premier League, you’re not going to win the title. United and City realised it at the end of last season, they just had to watch Chelsea to know. So why have Liverpool been so naive? Why have they let there fans down once again? Have they gone crazy?