A welcome return to form for Liverpool has Dave Tindall looking forward again, as Klopp ‘plays a blinder’ over Loris Karius call.
The old saying that a week is a long time in football certainly applied to Liverpool FC over the last seven days.
This time last Thursday I was looking forward to shaking off the Bournemouth debacle with a comfortable home win over West Ham.
It didn’t happen. 2-2. In fact, it threw up the week’s big Twitter/media frenzy as our already under-fire goalkeeper Loris Karius was blamed for both goals and the football world went crazy bonkers.
Forget Donald Trump trying to spark nuclear war by falling out with China, the main topic of world debate it seemed was that a young German man new to the Premier League wasn’t stopping some goals going in.
The Nevilles had their say, Karius hit back at the former Man Utd pair in a pre-arranged interview, Jurgen Klopp came out and defended his No.1 and Jamie Carragher, despite appearing to agree with the Nevilles, escaped censure as it didn’t fit in with the Liverpool v United narrative.
As I trawled the shops looking for Christmas ideas, my mind naturally drifting away from the task in hand, I couldn’t help but think that this Karius sh*tstorm was all very counter-productive.
For most of this season we have been championed as the Premier League’s entertainers, scoring goals for fun, delighting the neutrals and oozing feelgood factor.
But taking one point out of six and our goalkeeper having a few iffy moments had turned his into keyboard warrior fodder.
Suddenly, we were not all that, would never get anywhere with Karius in goal and, despite scoring five goals in those games against Bournemouth and West Ham, were not coping without Philippe Coutinho.
And then we decided to let our football do the talking.
I must confess I was concerned ahead of the trip to Middlesbrough. We hadn’t won there in 14 years and, despite still scoring, some of our attacking spark had vanished. They didn’t let many in so could this be a 0-0 or even a 1-0 set-piece-based loss?
When the team news came through that Joel Matip was out injured, my fears were raised further. The last time Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan were our central defenders in an away game, we’d lost 2-0 at Burnley and in the three previous matches Matip had missed we’d conceded nine goals.
Of course, Matip’s absence was lost on non-Liverpool fans as the big pre-match news from the Riverside was that Klopp had dropped Karius to the bench and recalled Simon Mignolet.
I was around 80:20 in favour of the decision. It carried risk. What if Mignolet committed a howler? The perception would then be reinforced that Liverpool had two dodgy goalkeepers, an Achilles heel on either foot.
As it happened, Mignolet and, just as importantly, the players in front of him kept Middlesbrough at bay and we registered a clean sheet. The absolutely ideal outcome.
And so the ‘week is a long time in football’ cliché played out perfectly as we went full circle and our attacking prowess became the story again.
By the end of the night, Mignolet was something of an afterthought. Instead, the headline maker was the superb Adam Lallana for his two goals and assist while Divock Origi grabbed column inches too for scoring in his fifth straight game.
In fact, the goalkeeper debate was only the third question asked in Klopp’s press conference as he first gave responses to the performance overall and whether Lallana was the best English player in the Premier league on current form.
When he did address the Karius decision, Klopp got it absolutely spot on, describing the goalkeeper situation at Liverpool as a “long-term project”.
“I know how strong Loris Karius is, but unfortunately he couldn’t show it in the last one, two, three games – I’m not sure, that’s not too important. I am absolutely not interested in public pressure, but I am interested in the boy and there is no reason to push him through this situation,” said Klopp.
“In the end, everything is one little mistake – which can happen to each goalkeeper in the world. So after one little mistake, should I say ‘OK, that’s it, final judgement – I don’t want to see him anymore’? There’s absolutely no reason, especially when you have a goalkeeper like Simon Mignolet in training.”
Klopp has played an absolutely blinder over this. He’s defended his man and yet not come across as weak by taking him out of the firing line.
The power of his personality and reasoned words left no-one in any doubt that he’s in complete control of what could have been a very tricky situation. It’s the latest in a long list of reasons why we’re so lucky to have him in charge.
All in all Wednesday was an excellent night for LFC apart from bloody Chelsea winning yet again!
Just stop it! To be fair, I like Antonio Conte (there are obvious similarities with Klopp) but his team are now seriously getting on my nerves by churning out win after win after win. It’s 10 now, 30 points out of 30.
Our blip has been a relatively minor one but due to Chelsea’s relentless gathering of victories we’ve slipped six off the pace.
Still, second place marks this down as an excellent start so far and, according to my calculations, 34 points from 16 games works out an average of 2.125 per match. Multiply that by 38 and we’re on track to finish with 81 points this season. That’s exactly the same number that Leicester had when winning the league by 10 in 2015/16.
Next up for the Reds is the first Merseyside derby of the season.
Everton have had some wobbles this term but, notably, not at Goodison. In fact, along with us and Spurs, they’re the only team in the top flight with an unbeaten home record (W4 D4) in the current campaign.
And yet, I feel strangely confident about taking all three points in Monday night’s showdown. It’s partly due to a long-term feeling of superiority over Everton (we always seem to beat them when it counts and haven’t lost any of the last 11 derbies) and this season we’ve scored nearly double the amount of goals – 40 to their 21.
Also, in the last two matches we’ve played when Ronald Koeman was sat in the home dugout (at Southampton), we’ve scored eight goals. That was a 6-1 win in the League Cup and a 3-2 loss in the Premier League although Sadio Mane scored two of Saints’ goals that day and he’s ours now!
In short, after a trying week, there is still every reason to remain optimistic about how this season will pan out.