It was close to midnight when Jurgen Klopp found himself in an unusual position at Diego Armando Maradona’s stadium. A receiver in hiding, he issued a rare public apology to Liverpool fans on the field and now, uncharacteristically, trying to battle the adrenaline after the match and keep his thoughts in check.
“I think it makes sense to watch the game again and try to understand it so that I can send the right message to the boys,” said the Liverpool coach, as he came to grips with the painful defeat against Napoli. However, the admission that Liverpool need to rediscover themselves after their turbulent start to the season hit rock bottom at Napoli, which means they have already said enough.
When Klopp first issued the warning via BT Sport after the match, it sounded so ominous, in a big way, like the Liverpool manager had asked for time for a successful but aging team. But Bill Shankly in February 1970 was not like that. Then Shankly decided in the wake of the FA Cup defeat at the hands of second-tier Watford that he had to “do my job and change the team”. The Anfield days were numbered with Ian St. John, Roger Hunt, Ron Yates and Tommy Lawrence.
Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson are not in the same predicament today, despite their performance in a more arbitrary world, as on Wednesday a journalist asked Klopp if he feared a repeat of the sacking of Thomas Tuchel.
That question, ironic on so many levels, made the latest press conference last night suitably frustrating for Klopp. He had given several interviews by the time he sat in the media room in the bowels of the stadium. So he was more coherent, though still visibly angry, when asked to explain the need for renewal.
The result was that Liverpool should return to defensive basics rather than reinvent football. “The basic things weren’t there,” he explained. “It’s a difficult period, no doubt about it, but if you don’t play exceptionally well you can still defend at a really high level. We have to be able to do that but at the moment we are in it.”
A team with the quality and experience of Liverpool should be able to pick up the basics quickly. Statistics show that they competed reasonably well on Wednesday, scoring 15 attempts on goal to 18 for Napoli, seven on goal with eight goals for Napoli, 12 corners for the Napoli treble, and 600 assists attempt to 391 for Napoli.
The stats do not tell the story of a defeat more certain than the final score 4-1, with Liverpool failing to counter-press, filling in the gaps, and the many people who are off their level at the same time, who suffer worryingly. the nature of their performance. Nor the privilege of Naples. “Mamma, what a Napoli” announced the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport. Corriere dello Sport went for the title of “Colossal Napoli”. Both are completely justified.
Much-needed Thiago Alcantara has brought a semblance of order back to Liverpool’s show at Napoli, even though the match was long gone and there may not be a quick fix to Klopp’s problems. Replacing Joe Gomez with Joël Matip against the Wolves on Saturday is an easy call. Others will be more sensitive in the match that has gained so much importance for Liverpool.
Salah’s quiet start to the season deteriorated in Italy, where his poor first touch squandered several promising positions. Trent Alexander-Arnold made no secret of his disgust when he opted for the unmarked Salah inside the Napoli area only to roll a minute cross under the striker’s foot and take out a goal kick. It was the latest example this season of public bickering between Liverpool’s players, and an issue Van Dijk touched upon after the worst European performance of Klopp’s era.
“We’re not in the best shape and the best position, but we’re going to make it right – that’s the confidence I have,” said the defender. “We need each other, we need to stay together – not just us as players but the whole club. Hold on to each other, don’t point fingers.
“Everyone knows that everyone can do better. We are not robots, we try to perform and you can have bad moments. It is how you deal with them and now we will take a closer look at what happened together, talk to each other and focus on the match ahead.
“It can definitely change. Saturday starts with a good chance against a good team, so we’ll give everything. The key is to be together. We need everyone. If you start blaming others and don’t look at yourself or create negativity about the club, you don’t. Get out of this. I’m pretty sure we’ll turn this around together.” – guardian