Buy right player, Klopp
Liverpool need holding midfielder to plug gaps
Rabbits caught in the headlights make quicker decisions than Emre Can.
Liverpool's holding midfielder didn't know whether to stick or twist against West Brom because he's not a reliable holding midfielder.
The German is the latest square peg squeezed into a round hole, the latest unwitting victim of a transfer policy that makes little sense.
Virgil van Dijk was not the answer to all of Liverpool's problems, just one of them.
The men who stood either side of him at Anfield - Can and Simon Mignolet - are long-standing issues that the Reds haven't addressed.
Liverpool lost their best footballer for £142 million (S$262.8 million), but appear reluctant to buy their most important footballer - a defensive midfielder - to save their season.
Virgil van Dijk was not the answer to all of Liverpool’s problems, just one of them.Neil Humphrey
Can didn't offer enough protection against West Brom in the FA Cup yesterday morning (Singapore time), or enough creative intricacy going forward.
Across the board, his player ratings read like a cruel joke.
Beaten to the ball before the second goal, beaten to almost every other ball, weak in the tackle, erratic in possession, Can wore the captain's armband like it was a cheap gag.
He offered a parody of an imposing enforcer, unable to mind the gaps that his manager seems unable to fill.
Always the diplomat, Juergen Klopp hasn't criticised his employers' lack of investment, but he may need to voice his concerns soon because his job security is at risk here.
Liverpool have lost back-to-back games against the Premier League's bottom two. The Baggies have won on the road just once in the EPL since August and yet their margin of victory should've been wider.
With only one trophy since 2006, the Reds fielded the strongest side available and never looked like winning once the visitors equalised.
Instead, their inherent failings were ruthlessly exposed.
Gareth Barry and Grzegorz Krychowiak have 63 years between them but breezed past Liverpool's sputtering engines.
The hosts improved, only marginally, once Can was put out of his misery and Jordan Henderson and James Milner came on to offer a little gumption in a brittle midfield.
But those late measures were never going to be enough and Liverpool under Klopp are beginning to resemble Arsenal under Arsene Wenger in the last decade, turning a top-four finish into a "trophy".
Liverpool's owners appear satisfied with regular Champions League qualification to pay for Anfield's extensive stadium renovations, echoing the Gunners' thinking with the Emirates.
But Wenger still produced the odd silver bauble when his career depended on it, popping up with an FA Cup or two to silence critics for another season.
Klopp has nothing. For a third consecutive campaign, Liverpool have gone out in the fourth round. But the personnel involved makes the West Brom defeat the most damning yet.
Apart from the poor Trent Alexander-Arnold, this was not a cast of kids or an audition for second-stringers eager to impress the boss.
Klopp had his favoured three up front, an experienced midfield and the best back four available. And they were abject.
A smattering of boos at the final whistle was a worrying sign for a genuinely popular manager who understands the Anfield psyche and the native Scouse wit.
But the locals' self-deprecating sarcasm will turn to scathing criticism if the transfer window closes without Philippe Coutinho's massive fee being entirely reinvested.
They missed the little Brazilian at the weekend.
Beyond his swaggering brilliance, Coutinho bought time. He gave his teammates a breather against rambunctious opponents like the Baggies.
Liverpool missed his brains and the brawn of a half-decent gatekeeper on the halfway line.
Joel Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Alberto Moreno and, most worryingly of all, van Dijk were uniformly inept at set-pieces, tracking markers and anything else that typically falls within a defender's trade description.
The Baggies read between the lines and realised that there was literally nothing there, just an incriminating chasm that hints at Liverpool's lack of ambition.
Every other club in the top five have at least one defensive midfielder, the definitive representation of today's surging game.
Whether it's Nemanja Matic, Fernandinho or N'Golo Kante, he sits while everyone else goes. He's one man with two lungs, the umbilical cord between defence and attack in swift transitional phases.
Teams can't win leagues without one.
Liverpool can't seem to win anything without one.
Klopp has three days to sign a reliable defensive midfielder of his own or the boos around Anfield may turn into an outright rebellion.