Just when you think all is good and life is sweeter than a Gary Rhodes dessert menu, some bastard comes along and sticks two big fingers up at you and flushes all your fun, success, hopes and buoyancy down the Kazi. Then fate, bad luck and a myriad of other intangible forces conspire to declare open season on making your next few weeks about as much fun as a no-lube rectal cavity search, with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the latex driving seat.
What on earth must Klopp be thinking of right now? Other than penning a mail thus;
“Herr Lerner I’d like to change my mind about not taking that £60M transfer pot for the January window after all. We have hit a bit of a bump in the autobahn. It appears that having beasted the lads in pre-season they are now all falling into little itsy bitsy footballer pieces in January and everyone is sicker than a Sturridge and when they do eventually return to play they have lost all of the ability they had previously, like a Sturridge. I promise to buy more robust players than Brodge & Woy did. Yours Jurginator.”
Klopp must have been very close to throwing a clot off on several occasions since the turn of the Year. One of the regular blood boiling occurrences for the Stuttgarter will be the errant form of fellow German Emre Can. Buddha only knows what the hell has happened to the usually dependable (at the drop of a hat) midfielder. He has lost his first touch, his box to box engine which, had made quite a few believing he was probably going to develop into the real deal, appears to have blown a gasket. The radar precision passing of 2016 has given way to the distribution more akin to a criminally insane eighty-year-old woman spraying her shit inside a mental hospital. His confidence is lower that a snake’s rectum and he has missed a shed load of relatively easy chances that last year he would have bagged.
It is no coincidence that as Can was forced into more regular action as Henderson went out of action. Strangely enough, Hendo’s comeback has been slower than a Sturridge, this also applies to Milner, Lallana and Coutinho who have all struggled to get back to the sizzling form that left them snapping at Chelski’s heels and posing as a genuine threat or at least a sniff at being contenders for the title not so long ago. The problem with a brutal pre-season can be that mid-season knocks can lead to slower comebacks and players find it harder to find their form.
Add FIFA into the equation, in a way that only those crazy megalomaniacs do, decided that Matip’s choice to retire from International football was not, in fact, his decision to make. No, by simply playing an international at some stage in your life, your parent nation can arbitrarily decide to overrule your decision. They may select you against your will, pull you out of retirement per se and FIFA being the cretinous subnormal’s they are, actually back up this lunacy with a clause in their book of lies. While Matip’s absence hasn’t led to an influx of additional goals being leaked at the back, it has though further destabilised an already weak defensive platform. This, in turn, has played a part to unsettle the likes of Can.
Notwithstanding all that additional pressure the creative platform has been weakened even further with Mane departing for the AFCON and Sturridge’s erratic return to the match day line-up leaving most Liverpool fans wishing they had offloaded him when they had the chance. His undoubted talent appears to have waned much like LVG’s credibility as a footballer manager did last year. Sturridge’s game was never centred around blistering pace (although he was no slouch) but when you’re slowing down game on game like a Vauxhall Viva with a slow flat, most defences will find a way to contain you. Perhaps this is the end for Sturridge after all? Too many little niggles and some proper injuries have taken their toll as much mentally as physically and Klopp will surely have to trade off a decent wedge for him, focus on Origi and invest it another deep-lying centre midfielder who can be relied upon to support Wijnaldum and Hendo.
Not planning for these eventualities (with the exception of Matip’s situation) is just bad planning and subsequently not being able to react to stop the rot has exposed the true underlying frailties. But until Jan it has been nice to watch.
On the upside, Karius has looked better as a No.2 given his heroic performances versus Southampton in the Mickey Mouse. Moreover, no one would have expected Mignolet to come back in and shine from the off, as he has done. Young Ben Woodburn looks like a talent as does Alexander Arnold, but you can feel Klopp’s hesitation to blood the boys unless he absolutely has too, as he doesn’t want them to suffer in a bad patch. What Klopp is forgetting or has yet to fully appreciate is that the Anfield faithful admire their manager’s blooding homegrown youth and will most likely accept short-term inconsistency, if it means producing the next Fowler or a Gerrard. Unlike the ‘classless one’ 37 miles to the East, who felt he had to document the youth he has developed over the years because he quite clearly hadn’t, Klopp has the faith of the fans and some bold moves may just maketh the Red Men.
So while it’s all turned into a steaming pile of arse clumpage for Klopp in January he could argue he still in the top 4 (just) with a better fixture list than most. He has youth in the pipeline who are ‘ready now’, owners who are willing to invest, allegedly. Players who will return to form soonish and are likely to remain stronger later in the season, he has a key player back from the AFCON and their best defender fully back into the side because he has actually retired from International football. By the time this is posted after Wolves in the FA Cup, we’ll have a better understanding of whether Sturridge is a bonafide busted flush or if he should be given the chance to try to get back to yesteryear standards or if the immediate future has Woodburn’s name all over it, at least as no.1 back up.
Where to next? Given their fierce rivalry which has produced 186 minutes of utter rubbish this season it wouldn’t be fair to pass up a similar analysis on the red side of Manchester. Some of the detritus being served up by Jose’s United, and I don’t mean that cremated lamb shank with jus de mud avec vegetables al-concrete that gets regurgitated up in the Executive Club every third week, isn’t much better than the LVG offering, nor the Moyes malaise for that matter.
Being pinned together by an ageing (yet quite brilliant) Swedish sociopath has all the hallmarks of nasty two season and off he goes again feel about it. However, Jose has nowhere else left to go!! So, he seems to be quite contented to sit back moan at everyone and bore the arse off the Old Trafford faithful. While I bet the locals (loosely termed at Old Trafford) are happy to be close to the ECL places I’m not sure how long they will permit BS on the field as well as the regular BS Jose provides off it. Currently, the only way he appears to be able to get a result these days is to play the oldest lineup possible. Sod the youth he want’s Carrick, Mata, Rooney, The Swede, Young, Valencia and Fellaini whose average age is 41 to be strategically positioned as follows:-
Firstly, put the big goal mogging lump up top for 90 minutes and see what happens.
Secondly, put DeGea in Goal.
Thirdly, stick the 6ft 3in £89M coiffeur who is better at ‘dabbing’ than playing football, somewhere in the middle.
Penultimately, get Mickey-T on the park if he bows to your superiority complex.
Lastly, the seven remaining OAP’s are to surround the aforementioned hairstylist for when he drops a knacker. I hear Paddy Crerand still has boots Jose, if you’re interested? Best keep him away from journalists post-match though eh?
Oh yes and if anyone asks ‘what about the youth?’, they are all on the bench which, in Jose’s mind is a great demonstration of both their talent and his ability to develop them. If anyone points out that Borthwick-Jackson, Lingard, Fosu-Mensah, Slim Shady Shaw, Rashford and Martial have all done the square root of sweet Fanny Adams this season, then get moody, diss Wenger or Klopp, laugh at Pep, drop mic and exit stage left in a tantrum.
Chelsea are in such good form and only if Liverpool destroy them next weekend will they be caught. Citeh will likely get better under Pep because let’s face it Bravo can’t get any worse. The Gooners will remain in the race (flattering to deceive as only they know how to), as long as they keep Sanchez up front. Spurs will keep grinding out results as long as Kane and Ali are fit and firing and Hugo Lloris doesn’t go totally berserk every game. So, both Klopp and the Moody One had better find ways of moving forward from here or they’re both likely to be battling it out for a Europa League berth at best.