Man City v Liverpool: Klopp is too loyal to players that have lost their form

Apart from Alisson and Roberto Firmino, it’s difficult to claim any Liverpool player has performed at an applicable level this season argues Graham Cummins
Man City v Liverpool: Klopp is too loyal to players that have lost their form

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring at Ibrox.

LIVERPOOL manager Jurgen Klopp is rightfully being scrutinised for his side’s miserable start to the season, but the German has been let down by his players.

The Reds sit just four points above the relegation zone and with the daunting task of hosting Manchester City at Anfield, it isn’t going to get any easier for Liverpool even after the boost of trouncing Rangers midweek.

Apart from Alisson and Roberto Firmino, it’s difficult for any Liverpool player to argue that they have performed at an applicable level this season. Considering that, it is hard to lay any of the blame on the manager. The players should take sole responsibility but Klopp is persisting with selecting them.

I admire that he shows loyalty to those that have so much for him but there comes a point when that no longer matters.

Every manager has their favourites. The players they simply deem 'untouchable', as former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho labelled nine of his Chelsea side in 2006.

That approach does cause resentment in a dressing room when results aren’t positive. Those on the fringes become annoyed that the chosen few are given unlimited chances to redeem themselves.

Managers have easy targets. Players that they drop knowing that there isn’t going to be too much of a fuss made.

Firmino seems to be one of those, he often misses out when others need to be accommodated.

He is Liverpool’s league top scorer this year with six goals yet when it comes to the bigger games, Klopp is more willing to put his trust in Darwin Nunez, who has shown already that he can let the team down and hasn’t ripped up any trees with his performances.

Klopp isn’t selecting players on form; he is choosing them on reputation.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaks to the officials after losing to Arsenal. 
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaks to the officials after losing to Arsenal. 

In saying that, he’s not become a poor manager overnight and his players aren’t helping him. Again outside of the trip to Ibrox on Wednesday, Mohammed Salah has failed to repay Liverpool for handing him a three-year contract worth €400,000 a week.

The Egyptian has been a shadow of the attacking force he was. He is suffering most from the decline of others around him.

His service is limited and his return of two league goals reflects this. However, this is one of the reasons why Salah should have never been compared to Messi and Ronaldo.

Those players were still able to produce remarkable numbers in terms of assists and goals even when their teammates weren’t performing. Salah does not have the ability to.

Salah’s poor form isn't a new thing. He's only managed to register 12 goals in open play from 43 games this calendar year.

It’s not helped Salah that he is asked to play out wider. Liverpool's attack has to centre on their most gifted scorer.

DISAPPOINTING

Virgil van Dijk has also been disappointing.

His laid-back approach has always been questioned but is currently being highlighted more than ever because of the number of goals Liverpool are conceding.

In the past, the Reds defence wasn’t being exposed as much because opposition teams weren’t able to get into Liverpool’s half.

However, van Dijk is finding himself having to defend more and at the moment he is not up to the task. He comes up against the best striker in the world in Erling Haaland this weekend, a task many defenders would have sleepless nights about.

However, I feel van Dijk will relish this because the Dutchman does see himself as the best and a dominant performance against Haaland will silence his critics and prove he is still one of the elite defenders in the game.

We could and should see a more defence-minded performance from Liverpool against City on Sunday.

The Reds are renowned for their aggressive offensive approach in games, but with them being so poor defensively, and coming up against arguably the best team in the world, Liverpool need to forgo the belief they can match City.

A lot has changed since they beat them in the Community Shield final a couple of months ago.

Perhaps a more defensive approach would be Liverpool’s best chance of getting something from the game. 

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