Is it time to change our system?

I mean, it seems like our Premier League opponents have figured out our tactics and playing styles, and as a result they all approached us with the same tactic. In addition, the lack of key figures like Van Dijk and the fact that Bobby Firmino seems to be declining also contribute a lot to our problems. I would say Firmino is critical to our system in previous years, but he is no longer there this year. Besides, there are always more conventional No.9 forwards than Firmino-style players in the market.

Should we change our system and develop a new one?

For example, a 4-2-3-1 squad (we may not have to use a high defense line with this formation). We played with the 4-2-3-1 formation several times in 2018/19 season (specifically with Salah as No.9 and Shaqiri as RW) with success, why not doing that again?

Opponents are parking the bus against us for the last 2 and a half years, we almost always found ways to beat them. Missing players, shite officials and lack of form are the problems.

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True but what’s also baffling recently are those 30 crosses into the opposition box and ‘kick & hope’ long balls. Is that all we have at the moment?

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I don’t think that the system is the problem. Our current problems run far deeper than just going from 433 to 4231 or 442. There is an obvious lack of freshness and of confidence right now (due to the poor recent results), and somehow, our attacking play looks disjointed as hell.

On the defensive side however, where in theory we should experience most problems, we are fine, and don’t get many goals. Yesterday’s result was as freakish as it gets. Burnley did nothing all night, and would have been delighted with a 0-0. The fact that they won has to go down as a wonder-result for them, and a highly undeserved one too. Our lads worked hard as they always do, and did the right things until the last thirty yards.

It’s in that zone where our game has become stale. I don’t think that the opposition teams have ‘figured us out’. They do the same than before, but due to our lack of efficiency, they get away with it now, when last season, moments of magic, of perfect coordination and almost telepathic understanding between our players did the trick.

So, what’s happening then? This is the same squad minus VVD and Gomez. But no squad relies on just two players, so it can’t be their injuries suddenly transforming us into a mid-table team. There is something beneath that.

For me, the answer can be resumed in one word: Covid-19. Ever since this shit started to happen, our star went down from the heights where it then was. The pandemics made us lose a key component of what made us so strong: we lost the supporters inside Anfield and more generally, the pressure generated by the crowd.

This point can’t be emphasized enough I think. Klopp built this team in order to strive from the pressure created by the fans. He and his lads established a firm connection with them. No other team had such a link with the supporters, not a single one in the world. Kloppo and his lads always shared everything with the fans in the ground. Every goal, every win, also the hard moments. They were absolutely feeding their energy and commitment levels from it. It was their X factor, which made them stronger than any other team.

It’s gone since a long time now. Everything has become so boring, so un-football-like. No wonder that the lads can’t bring the same level on the plate than before. The opening poster cited Bobby as the symbol of our problems, and I couldn’t agree more. He’s the player who needs the crowd to get going, who celebrates with the fans, who invents celebrations to enjoy with them. His trickery feeds on the reaction from the crowd. He’s a shadow of himself now… For me it’s no haphazard that he seemed to find his good level again during the period when a couple of thousands of fans were allowed back in, and has lost it completely again since the second wave and the again-empty stadia.

Kloppo, the man who is at the heart of it all, is also someone who needs the crowd. Without the emotions going with it, he looks a bit lost, and you can almost see him think ‘What the fuck are we doing here, this has no sense at all’. Our game has lost what he managed to bring in and made his lads so strong: the sense of joy, that the game is there to be enjoyed by everyone, first and foremost. Not a sinister job which has to be done, that’s more Burnley’s or the red mancs’ speciality. For understandable reasons, the aspect of joy has been completely lost, through nobody’s fault apart the pandemics.

For me, Covid-19 is the single most important aspect of our current demise, and I don’t expect it to change before people are allowed to watch football again, and thus, to make football what it really is again. What we currently see is no football. Even at junior level, you always have people watching the game, shouting encouragements etc. This here is… well, it’s impossible to take any joy out of it as far as I’m concerned, and I’m sure that it is the same for the players.

The only conclusion for us has to be the following one: we need to take on the chin what comes along for us. It won’t be nice I think. As it looks, supporters won’t be allowed back in before the end of the season, and thus, our lads will continue to lack that X-factor until it is back.

A lot of patience is required now from us, and loyalty as well, towards those who gave us so much enjoyment until the pandemics began. I’m sure that they’ll find back what made them so strong, and will give us joy again. But most probably not before next season.

It is as it is, as Kloppo would say.

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It’s not quite about changing the system as it is about upgrading the options, in my opinion at least. Liverpool, for all the defensive issues that continued from last season’s COVID-induced break, still started the season strongly until injuries started to mount. I think Klopp made two mistakes this season, one “global” and one “local” - the former was relying on injury prone players like Matip, Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain, the latter was playing a strong team in a dead rubber match against Midtjylland. I believe that this rotten form in the past month in majority stems from those two mistakes.

While I’ve written off this season (almost) completely (looking at imminent fixture list before Man United match, I told my mates that I feared that Liverpool wouldn’t finish higher than sixth), I believe that this adversity can be the basis for a successful next season. Something similar happened in 2016/17, that January was every bit as rotten as the past month, though the pressure is much higher now.

There are also certain parallels with Man City last season - we didn’t win the title solely because we were that good, we won it also because they lost Kompany, their leader, Sane, a bonafide game changer and a proper big game performer, and Laporte, the defensive platform upon which their attacks were built. In a way, you can substitute those names with “Van Dijk”, “Jota” and “Gomez” respectively in Liverpool’s case. I still think that Man United will win the title this season but Man City, all things considered, responded well to last season’s failure, especially when it comes to plugging the gaps in their side and are challenging again.

Liverpool’s task is more difficult than Man City’s because there are six clubs within six points at this moment, with Liverpool the most likely to tail off and drop out from the top four. It won’t be a nice viewing if Man United win the title and Everton finish ahead of Liverpool, especially if we don’t qualify for CL, but it’s a frog that I’m willing to swallow if Klopp and his lads regain their best form in the following season and beyond and regain the status of a proper title challenger and hopefully a title winner.

Klopp loves his players but there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’d like to strengthen this side. His hands seem tied in that aspect, considering that even without COVID, FSG stick to their mantra of club living within its means as much as Klopp sticks to his football principles. That said, a failure to achieve this season’s goals might change their stance. I don’t think that this squad needs a major surgery but it very much depends on whether Van Dijk, Gomez and Jota successfully recover from their injuries.

Regardless, it is imperative to make the team less reliant on Van Dijk’s long range passing, fullbacks and pressing for creativity. Maybe even make Salah play centrally (Jota on the left, Mane on the right?) and make the front three less reliant on Firmino? I love Wijnaldum and I would love him to stay but his departure could be a blessing in disguise if Klopp gets a quality CM who plays on the front foot, who likes to have the ball and is a creative presence (essentially, a more developed version of Jones). I don’t see that as a major change in system, even if it might require getting two new players, it’s just the next logical step in the evolution of this team.

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By figuring out, I mean that opposition teams now manage to systemically prevent us from creating real chances, forcing the front 3 to shoot from difficult positions, and thus “shot on goal” figure was so low. Chances like Origi’s open miss by themselves were incredibly rare in the last 5 matches. Our player crossed, crossed, crossed all the day because they could not find any alternative solutions to breach their defense.

We really need another real striker and a Phillippe Coutinho-style No.10 player, and a new system that accommodates such players. With such players, we can easily switch to our 2013/14 attacking style as Plan B.

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I assume you mean Utd won’t win the title? As once they need to start juggling the Thurs to Sun split of Europa League I reckon they will drop off… They are not that good.

For me City are clicking into gear, the pairing of Dias and Stones look solid and have formed a great partnership, with Laporte/Ake as excellent rotation. Even Cancelo looks to be a solid improvement over Walker at right back.

Everyone missed their chance first half of the season whilst they stuttered, now they are winning games I don’t expect them to let up.

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This is what the opponents want us to think, no.

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Fans always run straight to the solve it in the transfer market solution. Klopp won’t do that. That’s why he’s the best in the business.

In terms of the system, I think it’s a shame Hendo was out last night, as I’d like to get him or Fabinho into midfield. This will help Thiago get further up the pitch, where he can start picking holes in these deep defences. Last night he was splitting the centre backs and taking the ball off the keeper. That’s not where we need him.

One thing to note is that we say we’ve lost the ability to break down a deep defence, but what we’ve been up against is a level beyond that. Last season teams came and put eight men on the edge of the 12 yard box. This year we’re faced with 10 on the six yard box. This is a level of bus parking that we haven’t seen before. It’s crazy. At some point we’re going to face a team with ten lads stood on their own goal line, maybe sitting on each other’s shoulders, with a little gap in the middle for the keeper to look after.

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The irony is last night the first 14 mins we did everything right… We moved the ball quickly, we ran at them with purpose, we took shots from outside the box, we pulled their defence around and created openings…Then we just stopped, it was like after missing a few shots the belief just vanished and back we went to slow, ponderous side to side passing ending at a fullback who crossed to no-one.

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No, no, I mean they will win it but only because the season is chaotic. If there was any order in it and if there haven’t been so many injuries (De Bruyne got injured again, I won’t even speak about Liverpool injuries), I think they would have been a few points behind either Liverpool or Man City, or both. They are well equipped to win games out of nothing, which is why they are leading the table, and they’ll most likely bin Europa League in order to focus on PL, they literally have no incentives there. We’ll see if they can maintain that once some semblance of order is restored but I don’t see it happening this year.

It’s always nice to have players who can win you games out of nothing and I admire Man United’s squad for that but I genuinely prefer the grinding, organised, single-minded Liverpool of past two seasons. I think it’s the way to go forward, I prefer the cycle of two trophy-winning seasons followed by a dismal one rather than three seasons in which you finish fourth. Or in which you don’t even finish fourth.

I think the seeds of new transfers have already been sown last summer. I’m convinced that Klopp would have signed a centre back had club managed to sell Grujić and Wilson. I’m expecting that to happen this summer and I’m expecting Shaqiri and Origi to be sold to make way for Wijnaldum’s replacement. One of the reasons why Klopp is the best for Liverpool is that he manages to find internal solutions, like you said. However, when half of his team is out injured or unable to find any consistency because of recurring niggles, there’s only so much he can do.

Actually, I think Klopp always faced such sides in his time at Liverpool, it’s just that he never faced them as PL champion, so every bad think that happens is multiplied by 100. I’m not sure if I’d rather see the lads be thoroughly outplayed and on the wrong end of a 3:0 scoreline or being sucker-punched like against Burnley and WBA. All in all, it’s not good and this season will most likely get even uglier from our perspective but one eye should always be kept on the next season.

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This is true, but there is something about how sides are setting up this year. They seem deeper, much more passive, and even less interested in playing football.

We’re used to bus parkers, but I do t think we’ve ever had to deal with team playing with ten men in their own box for the majority of the game.

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Hit it on the head for me, its so demoralizing seeing a pale shadow of our team play. We are lethargic, our magic gone, that sharpness is missing, our linkup has evaporated and you time it precisely. We started to fade when we got over the line last season, we put it down to winning it and losing concentration, I think it was the start of the malaise you are calling out. No replacement defender would fix things, its not distribution that’s missing either, Hendo at the back was a test to see if we could release our front three - we’re missing the Anfield faithful pure and simple.

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Who knows what’s going on in the heads of football players these days… One of my mates said of Man United “of course they look the fittest and most interested this season, they barely broke a sweat over the previous three seasons”. :joy: Maybe the impact of COVID is stronger than we thought, not just in terms of fitness that took a serious hit because of lack of pre-season and fixture congestion… The sooner the season is over, the better, and I was saying it even when Liverpool were leading the table.

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Burnley are a bit of a bogey team for us since Klopp arrived, but usually, until last spring, our lads would have found an answer to any deep-defending team, whatever they try to keep our lads out.

These days, it doesn’t happen. In my book, it’s not down to the opposition (nor to the refs for that matter, although we have badly been done over by them a few times this season), but to our lads only. Less pace, less precision, less freshness and accuracy with the last ball and the finishing.

Beyond the, for me, main issue I’ve already highlighted, it could also be a physical lack of freshness (no special winter training camp this year due to Covid-19, and let’s not forget: our summer preparation was heavily affected as well).

As a summary, we’ve been badly knocked over by that fucking Covid-19 situation.

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The lack of players running with the ball is one of the many issues we currently have. Thiago got into better positions against United than yesterday, every time he beat a man near their box a chance opened up. Wijnaldum finally found his running boots yesterday and created a couple chances when running with the ball. When Trent decided to beat a man and get a shot off it was far more dangerous than any of his 1000 crosses. Origi created a couple of decent shooting opportunities by daring to run with the ball for a few yards. Mane is coming inside far too much which is why I’d like to see him switch over to the right and get at the full back.

When you see us hitting long passes or constantly try to cross it in against a packed side you know we’re not going to score. It’s so obviously the wrong tactic but we continue to do it, it’s absolutely baffling. You need to commit the opposition players by running at them, open up gaps, make runs, find the pass. Not easy to do, but a simple idea. When we actually give it a go we create openings.

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Yep, it’s like we have the right ideas but then use the wrong people… Oxlade seemed to be in the side to do that task - run with the ball yet he was completely invisible. I don’t think he broke their line or had a shot in over 50mins.

My personal view was Jones should have started, I just worry he’s let that goal conceeded from taking a risk affect him too much and is playing ultrasafe again. I’d hope Klopp sits him down, tells him to let it go and play the confident football he was doing well. Funnily enough since Jones was dropped we’ve not scored!

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This made me laugh actually, so you are saying our players have no talent, no self respect, no respect for the club who pay them millions and the fans at home who are cheering their collective hearts out to them. They only can play if someone is calling their names and sing for them in the stands? only then they remember how to play and fight and win games like others are doing?
Sorry, this is so sad it is actually funny.

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We need to be prepared to drop Bobby.

When Jota is back, I’d have him with Mane and Mo. Before then, I’d give one of Shaqiri or Origi more games.

Midfield is where better balance is needed. We need Hendo in there with Milner and Thiago.

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Player Season Games Played Minutes Played
Roberto Firmino 2015-16 271 20,100
Georginio Wijnaldum 2016-17 213 16,408
Sadio Mané 2016-17 196 15,975
Jordan Henderson 2015-16 199 15,135
Mohamed Salah 2017-18 179 14,672
Andrew Robertson 2017-18 153 13,355
Trent Alexander-Arnold 2016-17 155 12,374
Fabinho 2018-19 105 7,821
Divock Origi 2015-16 151 6,210
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 2017-18 92 4,444
Naby Keïta 2018-19 71 3,772
Xherdan Shaqiri 2018-19 51 2,174
Takumi Minamino 2019-20 31 1,237

Klopp’s core players are over stretched and now it’s showing. While Klopp likes to play a certain system with a certain set of players, those players have been stretched because the alternative players didn’t impose themselves or weren’t available at all.

Also, these faltering players were meant to infuse an element of flexibility/unpredictability in our system. So Klopp wasn’t only forced to play the same players (and exhaust them) but also the same system that competitors have worked out over the course of time.