Sunday, 20 December 2015

Can Jurgen Klopp Afford Another Flop?

Watford 3 Liverpool 0: Perhaps Jurgen Klopp is now realising just how much work he needs to do to revive Liverpool’s fortunes.

A side that had been struggling under Brendan Rodgers have look transformed since the German’s arrival in October.

But a loss against Newcastle, a fortunate last-gasp point against West Brom last week and a comprehensive defeat here, the heaviest loss of his short reign to date, suggests January’s transfer window can’t come quick enough. There appears no quick fix for Liverpool.

What will grate Klopp so much is the fact that this was no fluke result for Watford. They outfought and outthought a Liverpool side who lie ninth after two goals from the in-form Odion Ighalo and Nathan Ake saw Watford cruise to their fourth win in a row.

The Watford PA announcer, perhaps tongue in cheek, revealed how Watford were a point off the Champions League places at the final whistle. A top-four finish for Liverpool, on this evidence, looks off the mark in a season of unpredictable results.

Klopp said: “It was a bad start and not the best reaction to the goals. We lost our minds and stopped playing football.

“It’s the most disappointing moment in my whole Liverpool life. We don’t feel good today. We came here to do something different. We have accept the result, keep on working and must play better football. Watford didn’t surprise me.”

Liverpool were chasing the game from as early as the third minute which highlighted just how Klopp must identify a new goalkeeper.

With the erratic Simon Mignolet out with a hamstring strain, his replacement Adam Bogdan committed the cardinal sin of dropping the ball under no pressure at the feet of Ake.

On second viewing it appeared the Hungarian had the ball in two hands before Ake kicked it out, but he should not have presented the defender with the simplest of chances by dropping Ben Watson’s tame corner in the first place.

Bogdan said: “I dropped the first ball which is a mistake, I hold my hands up, but I felt I recovered the ball and he kicked it out of my hands. But if I catch the first one it’s not a goal. I had both hands on the ball but we are talking about a split-second. It’s not easy for the referee to see.

If there was some debate over the opening goal there was no doubting Ighalo’s strike in the 15th minute.

Troy Deeney’s chipped through ball through saw the Nigerian striker shrug off Martin Skrtel before dispatching the ball past Bogdan from the angle.

It could have gone from bad to worse for Liverpool after 33 minutes. The visitors somehow scrambled the ball clear after a shaky Bogdan had punched the ball onto his own defender and Jurado’s follow-up was pushed wide by the Hungarian.

Skrtel limped off injured to add to Liverpool’s woes and Klopp showed his intent by introducing Belgian striker Divock Origi in the defender’s place.

Liverpool were struggling to find any rhythm and besides a tame curling effort from Philippe Coutinho at Watford goalkeeper Heurelo Gomes.

A half-time rocket from Klopp was coming and his words were probably still ringing in the players’ ears as Alberto Moreno and Origi threatened inside the opening two minutes.

Ighalo could have wrapped up the win in the 63rd minute but saw Bogdan make some amends for his earlier error by pushing the striker’s shot wide.

Ighalo had the last say when he headed home Valon Behrami’s cross with five minutes left.

Watford might have been all about the prolific pairing of Ighalo and Deeney but this was their eighth clean sheet of the season. Only Manchester United have amassed more shutouts.

Quique Flores, the Watford manager, said: “It was important to get a good start for the confidence of the players. It’s important for the Premier League what other teams can do to other teams. You never know what’s going to happen in every game.”

Flores’ biggest job might be keeping onto 12-goal Ighalo and said: “He is clever. He chose to stay with us five months ago. I think he will stay this season with Watford and after that who knows?”

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