Football

Klopp insists he can solve Liverpool's defensive woes

Liverpool boss insists he can instil tactical discipline in his players

GROUP E
SPARTAK MOSCOW LIVERPOOL

No football manager has perhaps popularised the gegenpressing style more than Juergen Klopp.

The German has been synonymous with the high-pressing style of football with former club Borussia Dortmund and now Liverpool.

The Reds are a spectacle to behold when they are at their attacking best but, in recent times, Klopp has come under fire for problems at the other end of the pitch.

The Merseyside club ended a four-game winless run by beating Leicester 3-2 in the Premier League last Saturday, but have conceded 18 goals over 10 games in all competitions.

Klopp is determined to stop Liverpool leaking goals this season, but has faith in the way his side are playing ahead of the Champions League trip to Spartak Moscow tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

"It's obvious we concede too many, there's no doubt. That's really hard for me," said Klopp.

"Usually, I'm a really good defensive coach but, obviously, that has worked not too well so far. The main thing for defending is tactical discipline.

"I don't know everything about football, but I could write a book in the next two hours about which space we have to defend, why, when and where you have to be.

"When you have to step up, push up... all that stuff. I can't take a car and drive them out of the box. That's how it is.

"As long as not every player is doing it, we'll work on it.

"When everyone is doing it, I will make sure we're doing it for the rest of our lives."

Liverpool missed out on Southampton centre back Virgil van Dijk in the summer and, while left back Andrew Robertson was the only defender added in the transfer window, Klopp says he is happy with the squad.

"We will be fine. It's how it is. I have faith, not only offensive, in our squad," said the 50-year-old, adding that only the 5-0 defeat by Manchester City earlier this month was hard to recover from.

"Sometimes you need a punch in the face and we have had already a few - not too hard. Manchester City was hard, that was the only one.

"We were not really on the floor, but we always got up. We are here and we play good football. I like the shape we play."

Former assistant manager Phil Thompson, though, said that Liverpool made the mistake by selling defender Mamadou Sakho to Crystal Palace when they failed in their bid to sign van Dijk.

The 63-year-old Thompson feels that Frenchman Sakho should have been given a second chance.

He said: "Our best defender at the start of this season has been allowed to leave.

"Mamadou Sakho was our best defender. He was a warrior, a fighter, a battler all those things and you saw it at Crystal Palace last season.

"He was like that at Liverpool. I know there's fallouts in football all the time but, somewhere along the line, you can't cut off your nose to spite your face."

Klopp may finally get the chance to unleash his "Fab Four" against Spartak, with Mohamad Salah on the right, Sadio Mane on the left, Roberto Firmino in the middle and Philippe Coutinho dropping a little deeper to feed them from midfield.

But former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness said that the Reds do not have enough depth in the squad to cope with the double demands of Premier League and Champions League football.

"They had a clear run last year (a season without European football), but more games means you need more players and I don't think he's got that strength in depth.

"If they were to have a bad run of injuries and some key games came along, it would hurt them badly.

"Manchester United could survive, it wouldn't hurt City at all and those are the two teams you look at to do well in both competitions. They have stronger squads to pick from.

"What has happened with the Champions League is teams are focused on the next (European) game and not the (Premier League) one in front of them.

"You have to get results in both competitions." - WIRE SERVICES

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