ONE thing this horrible 2020 has provided us in abundance, is that karma seems to tip its scale faster than ever before.
The latest rebalancing of hubris struck Jurgen Klopp last Sunday when his over-confident champions came a cropper on the hurdle that is Aston Villa.
Less than a week earlier, the German had reacted harshly towards Roy Keane for suggesting, on Sky Sports after Liverpool had beaten Arsenal 2-0, that Klopp's side's style of play left them open to "sloppy mistakes". The choice of the word 'sloppy' was probably unfortunate, he instead should have said 'risky', then maybe Klopp would not have reacted as he did. As it happened, Klopp surmised the word sloppy to mean unprofessional which is not what Keane was suggesting.
It was a simple crossing of lines of communication in the virtual worlds of distant interviews, due to Covid-19, which make for misinterpretation of message common, without the nuance of hearing or seeing the context. Anyway, Klopp landed on the Corkman like a ton of bricks which Keane, surprisingly, took in particularly good stead, understanding that Klopp had taken up his point incorrectly.
Social media did what social media does, as people on the old Man United and Liverpool divide rushed to the trenches to battle the merits of their man's position. With Liverpool fans in glee with Klopp putting the hated Man United-ex in his place and United fans furious over the slight made on their man by the upstart Klopp. Whatever the merits of the argument, Klopp was having nothing to do with the idea of his players being sloppy.
Cue six days later, and his side traipsed off the field shell-shocked and bewildered after suffering a once in a generation drubbing, losing on a scoreline of 7-2, at the hands of not a title contender, but from a side that only avoided relegation by a point last season.
The defeat came from Villa unpicking the risky high line defence Liverpool employ, as suggested by Keane. However, it was also entirely assisted by the genuinely 'sloppy' approach the Merseysiders brought to the game. The very thing Klopp stamped down as totally inconceivable the previous Monday.
As soon as the match started Adrian, Allison's replacement in the Liverpool goal, had a brain-fart by crossing the ball in front of his net which ran way short of its recipient. It was pounced upon by a grateful and almost unbelieving Ollie Watkins to slot it home for the Villa lead after just four minutes.
Three other deflected goals indicated it was going to be Villa's day no matter what. Seven of their 12 shots on goal ended up in the back of the net a sweet return on chances a side could ever hope for. As good as Villa were, Liverpool were floundering. 70% possession of the ball and 31 crosses into the box, yet still lost by five goals is ridiculous and shows a serious flaw in the gameplan. As has been shown in previous heavy defeats, Klopp and Liverpool, rarely have a strategy for Plan B if the high-line pressing tactic isn't working.
Most of the Liverpool players did little to enhance their reputation on Sunday as they became the side to record the worst defeat of a reigning Premier League champions.
Maybe worst of all for many Liverpool fans is the fact that it denied them the chance to gloat at Man United's misfortune when they went down 6-1 to Spurs earlier in the day.
Who would have thought we'd ever see a day when United and Liverpool both went down to five-goal defeats in the same season not to mind the same day?
The question now is which result was worse?
Most pundits look at the Man United situation as worse as they have been struggling to find their mojo for years in the long shadow cast by Alex Ferguson. The mood was to stick with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they have gone through so many managers already. The hope is that the arrival of the expensive wage bill that is Edison Cavani from PSG may pay an immediate dividend and save Ole. But the word is that we will likely see Mauricio Pochettino at the Theatre of Dream, sooner rather than later.
Klopp, of course, is in a far more secure position thanks to the trophy cabinet, but he still has to be wary. Was the Villa defeat a signal to the rest of the league that there is a weakness in this side, ready to be exploited? Or was it a one-off aberration for a side with injuries in key areas and a fear of further Covid-19 positive results sidelining their title defence?
The problem with that though is that the side put out against Villa still should have had the quality to beat them, yet Liverpool's much-vaunted defence was incapable of holding the most basic of lines on the day.
The problem for Klopp is that if there is something seriously wrong he will only have a couple of days to sort it out due to the international break. And the first game back is the Merseyside derby against a high-flying Everton side unbeaten this season under Carlo Ancelotti, itching for revenge after years of angst at the hands of their neighbours.
Even more karma fears for Klopp?