Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Klopp's Possible Ticket to Europe Papers the Cracks

So, that Capital One/Carling/Magners/Burger King Cup match was just awful, wasn't it? I saw the words "tense" and "nail-biting" bandied around quite a lot, but can only assume this is down to the disproportionate amount of ex-Liverpool players/managers (and supporters?) in the media.

Liverpool may yet find that beating Manchester City or Everton in the final is their best chance of Europe next season. Klopp's squad seems ill-suited to the task of overcoming teams that sit back. I think we all worried that would be the case with the German's style of play. And I think he realises he needs major surgery on his squad. They are certainly buying into his heavy metal style of play, which is a good sign. Yet with no poise on the ball, they need the acres of space that is not afforded them when they come up against the better-organised teams.

Ironically, this means they will probably win their final, with neither Everton or City renowned for the type of obdurate spoiling that Stoke are capable of on nights like last. For the week-in-week-out grind of the Premier League, however, this will be a period when they really miss Philippe Coutinho. How Klopp must rue the fact that his predecessor was so trigger happy with the £115 million (!!!) raised over the last two years through the sales of Sterling and Suarez. In fact, if I was him, I would argue that the net spend of late has probably still not been thaaat bad.

I hate to speculate on cherry-picking of plucky underdogs, but Riyad Mahrez must surely be on the minds of a few top-half managers. Why he would want to swap almost guaranteed Champions League football for a probable Europa League marathon is beyond me, but just a thought!

Also, we need to talk about Christian Benteke. He has replaced Mario Balotelli a little too snugly for the liking of a few, I'm sure. For more than double the transfer fee too! His fall from grace is alarming, to say the least, but let's not forget he went through a couple of dry spells at Villa. He could do with a confidence-boosting run towards the season's end to try and keep his place for next year.

Simon Mignolet too may yet be able to build on the well-earned hero status of last night and put some of his own roots down. But Liverpool's inability to defend a high ball was sorely obvious. Until this is sorted, a counter-attacking Klopp special in the cup final may be the Pool's main hope of Euro action in the near future.

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