Liverpool are coming off from a devastating 5-0 loss at the hands of Manchester City at the Etihad last weekend which comes at the worst possible moment as Liverpool prepare for their long-awaited Champions League return.
The Reds got thrashed by more dominant Manchester City side as Pep Guardiola gave Jurgen Klopp a taste of his own medicine with an exciting high-pressure and fluent performance which – from Liverpool’s point of view – pushed poor Ragnar Klavan straight to the limelight.
The German manager did promise a wild ride upon his arrival to Anfield.
Still, as a fan of this wonderful football club, I will take the liberty to speak on behalf of (at least of the majority of) fans around the globe and tell you we got more than we bargained for. Going from a 4-0 win over a team such as Arsenal one day to losing 5-0 the very next will give even the strongest one of us a stomach-wrenching feeling only a convincing Win to Nil at 9/4 price over Sevilla would be able to rectify.
Who’s to blame?
Media and the fans alike were quick to point their finger at poor Ragnar Klavan.
The 31-year-old Estonian defender was a surprising choice in the starting team ahead of Dejan Lovren who seems to have just beginning to create a sort of understanding with Joel Matip – at least when it comes to who is going to cover which area during set pieces and lofted crosses. But that’s an entirely different issue.
Anyhow, Klopp decided to rest the Croatian defender who picked up a knock on international duty and fielded unfortunate Klavan who was completely dismantled by the fierce Manchester City attack.
Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero were seen doubling Ragnar Klavan on a number of occasions to effectively rule him out of the run towards the ball. The Estonian boasts neither speed nor skill to effectively neutralize such huge threats as Jesus and Aguero, which is exactly why these two players ended up being left alone far too often in the box.
Klavan is simply a player of not enough quality to compete at the highest level in the Premier League, but as a player who was a substitute in all of his team’s three matches of the new season, Klavan should not be the one to take all the blame for the Etihad drubbing.
Is it Sadio Mane?
Placing the entire blame of Ragnar Klavan’s back is plain wrong from a number of reasons.
The Estonian defender was the only one taking on two players at once which would have been avoided hadn’t it been for Sadio Mane’s studs-up challenge on Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes.
Liverpool winger used excessive force and completely unnecessarily lifted his foot up in an effort to win the ball in a dangerous area and it’s fair to say that it is his recklessness that cost Liverpool a defeat.
Up to the point of Mane’s dismissal, Liverpool were a better side on the pitch, putting in a competitive performance against Pep Guardiola’s men. Had the two sides remained level on terms when it comes a number of players available, Ragnar Klavan could have possibly avoided the misery.
Is it the terrible transfer window?
Ultimately, the Manchester City defeat is a bitter proof of Liverpool’s lack of activity during the transfer window.
And even though Jurgen Klopp should be praised for maintaining his approach that money will not necessarily buy you success and quality, the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are there to prove him wrong.
The lack of investments – or better yet – the lack of power and authority to land top-class players and attract high-quality players to Anfield is proving to be a huge problem.
One cannot but ask whether Virgil van Dijk instead of Ragnar Klavan would result in Liverpool registereing this high of a loss. Of course it would. The chronic lack of quality in the Liverpool backline is by no means a poor man Klavan’ mistake.
The club – in agreement with the manager himself – appear to have identified areas others than defence as a key to boost. They ended up bringing two strikers in – one of which is considered a top signing for Liverpool – and a midfielder, with no additions to the defence.
But Liverpool did bring Andrew Robertson, someone will shout. They did. Utter respect to former Hull left-back, but his £9 million transfer is nothing but Jurgen Klopp’s weak attempt to imitate Arsene Wenger and his move for Kim Kallstrom in 2014.
A smokescreen used to mask the fact you failed to bring those you wanted or needed, whatever the reason.
And in Liverpool’s case – I’m afraid – it’s got to do with the fact they are slowly losing the race with all the clubs mentioned above in terms of popularity, stature and overall appeal.
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