In today’s footballing world, many managers are often sacked too early and for very little. Take the most recent sacking of Frank De Boer from Crystal Palace as a great example. He was sacked after just five games in charge. This was simply way too soon. He didn’t have enough time to get his team playing how he wanted and five games was simply not enough.
However, in the case of Jurgen Klopp, he was appointed Liverpool manager in October 2015. Meaning he has had most of the 2015/16 season, the 2016 transfer window, the 2016/17 season and the 2017 summer window to sign the players that he wanted and get players playing his style. Therefore, this current Liverpool team is very much Klopp’s team. This means he needs to take responsibility for the many problems they currently have and he could and maybe should be sacked given the extent of Liverpool’s problems all across the pitch.
Here is why Jurgen Klopp should be let go by Liverpool
Probably the most obvious problem Liverpool have under Klopp is their awful defence. Liverpool have played 12 games in all competitions so far this season. In those 12 games, they have kept just two clean sheets. One against Arsenal in what was probably their best display this season and the other against Crystal Palace who haven’t even scored in the league this season.
Two clean sheets in 12 games is simply not good enough for a side like Liverpool. Furthermore, Liverpool have let in 12 goals in seven league games this season. Another awful stat from what is supposed to be a top side. It is made even worse when you see that only Crystal Palace and West Ham United have let in more league goals this season.
Granted, people could argue that its only early in the season and Klopp has time to solve this defensive crisis. But the fact is this defensive problem is not a new one. Klopp has had this issue since he arrived. Just look at last season for example. Liverpool conceded way too many goals. Especially to sides who they should have been seeing off with ease. Such as Bournemouth against whom they lost 4-3 and Swansea City who they lost 3-2 to last season.
So, it is clear Klopp was aware of the defensive problems they had last season. He had the summer to both work with the players he had to improve them and bring in some new centre-backs to help improve a shaky defence.
Instead what he did was sell Mamadou Sakho, who actually put in some good displays on loan at Palace last season and then not buy a single centre back. Yes, they did try to sign Van Dijk. But Southampton made it very clear he was not for sale. So, if Klopp had any sense he would have gone out and signed another centre back.
Instead what has happened was Liverpool didn’t sign a single centre back, Klopp hasn’t improved their defence and they’re struggling again to keep clean sheets. If this was Klopp’s first season in charge the blame would probably weigh less on him. However, he has had plenty of time to fix such an obvious problem and he has failed to do so.
Liverpool not signing a defender is the first example of Klopp’s stubbornness shining through. Their defensive problems are very clear. But rather than admitting he needs to improve his defence, a stubborn Jurgen Klopp is instead ignoring the problem and sticking with his poor defenders. Klopp has even come out an praised his defenders in the media and stated that Liverpool did not need to sign another centre back. Klopp is a smart man and he surely knows his defenders are not good enough but he is unwilling to admit that.
Too much gegenpressing?
Moreover, you could also argue that Jurgen Klopp’s tactics, especially going forward, do not suit Liverpool or the Premier League. Klopp’s primary tactic is the use of gegenpressing. Gegenpressing basically means to press the opposition as soon as you lose the ball. The main aim of this tactic is to prevent opponents from counter attacking and also to win the ball back straight away.
This has been a favourite tactic of Klopp’s for some time. Largely because of the success he enjoyed with the tactic when he deployed it at Borussia Dortmund. Klopp had great success with the tactic, mostly in his 2011-12 season when Dortmund won the Bundesliga. The use of gegenpressing meant that Dortmund were able to fend off Bayern Munich to win the league. Despite Munich having a much better overall squad than Klopp’s men.
So, naturally, after the success Klopp had with gegenpressing in Germany, he implemented that tactic with Liverpool. However, he has enjoyed nowhere near the same amount of success in England. This could be down to the personnel in Liverpool’s team. However, the whole point of gegenpressing is to allow teams with lower quality players to win games as often as teams like Munich which is exactly how the tactic worked for Dortmund.
But given that the tactic has not worked that well at Liverpool and has overexposed their defensive issues more than anything, you would think it was time for Klopp to change up his tactics. He has not done so. This is another example of Jurgen Klopp’s stubbornness coming through. His unwillingness to change things up and admit his way of doing things is not always the best way is seriously costing Liverpool both through the personnel he is signing or not signing and his style of play.
Just an awful conversion rate
Another problem Liverpool are facing under Klopp this season is their awful conversion rate. In past seasons Liverpool have still had awful defensive problems. But they’ve been great going forward and often just outscored their opponents.
This season, however, even their attack is poor. Before their last game against Newcastle United, they had managed 181 shots on goal in all competitions. However, while this was the most out of all the Premier League teams, just one in five of those shots have resulted in a goal. That is a conversion rate of just 20%, the second lowest in the league with Southampton the only team with a worse CR of 16%.
This failure to outscore opponents has already cost them this season. Most recently against Newcastle United when they had 17 goal attempts and managed to score just one. One goal from 17 attempts is simply not good enough for a team such as Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp needs to take responsibility for this. In the past, he has been able to get away with being poor at the back as his team was always good going forward. But now both ends of his team are doing badly, some serious questions must be raised as the whether Klopp should be allowed to remain Liverpool manager.
Leaving it too late
Furthermore, Klopp also has a bad habit of not making substitutes until it is too late. This is yet another example of the stubborn nature of the German and another reason he may have outstayed his welcome. Klopp’s unwillingness can be seen several times already this season. The first vs Burnley when Liverpool drew 1-1, Klopp didn’t make a sub until the 78th minute. The second vs Sevilla when Liverpool drew 2-2, Klopp’s first sub came in the 84th minute. Finally, in the Watford game that ended 3-3, Klopp’s first sub came on 81 minutes. All of these games Liverpool dropped points in and a large reason for that is because their subs were made to late due to Klopp’s unwillingness to make changes.
Another stat Klopp will want to hide from is his win/loss record at Liverpool. Klopp’s win-loss record is a dismal 47.92%. That is extremely poor for a club that wants to play in the Champions League and challenge for the title. Even Brendan Rodgers had a better W/L ratio of 50.3%.
To put it into the perspective of other managers of big clubs who have been sacked, both David Moyes (52.94%) and Louis Van Gaal (51.92%) had much better W/L record’s than Klopp and they spent most of their time in charge of Manchester United being slated by most of the footballing world.
Jurgen Klopp also holds an awful record in Cup Finals. Something Liverpool fans have already felt the brunt off. In his last five finals, Klopp has lost all five. The most recent two losses have come at Liverpool. The first in the Europa League final, Klopp lost 3-1 to Sevilla in 2016. Also in 2016 Klopp lost on penalties in the League Cup to Manchester City. This shows that maybe Klopp just isn’t the man to lead Liverpool to the glory a club of their stature deserves. So, while Klopp’s time at Liverpool has been romantic, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
Overall, given that Klopp seems either unable or unwilling to address Liverpool’s glaring defensive problems, coupled with the fact Liverpool’s attack is getting worse and the fact his win-loss record at Liverpool is poor, plus his inability to win finals and his stubbornness, maybe it is time for Klopp’s time at Liverpool to come to an end.
*Editorial Note: The above opinion is that of this particular columnist and does not reflect the view of the editorial board at The 4th Official.*