Exeter replay adds to Liverpool's fixture woes
Hard times beckon for Klopp's men, as they face crowded fixture list amid lengthy injury list
EXETER CITY 2
(Tom Nichols 9, Lee Holmes 45)
(Jerome Sinclair 12, Brad Smith 73)
Juergen Klopp finds himself, three months into his Liverpool reign, channelling the spirit of Charles Dickens.
From the best of times to the worst, the honeymoon has quickly unravelled. Anfield's epoch of belief has become one of incredulity; everything and nothing stands before them in this current winter of despair.
But the effusive German continues to resemble an unrepentant jailbird, insisting that he would do things exactly the same if he had his time over.
Thanks to his meddling kids, he almost got away with it yesterday morning (Singapore time).
In truth, Exeter City would have preferred the eventual outcome, possibly more than pulling off one of the greatest shocks in FA Cup history.
For a club in the fourth tier of English football, an Anfield replay that will multiply their earnings almost 10-fold is a blessing.
For Klopp, it is another stroke of bad luck. Liverpool now face a gruelling period of two games per week for the next month.
Highly conditioned athletes should have no concerns about such scheduling.
But recent evidence suggests that he is overseeing a side far from being at the peak of their powers.
Injury problems continue to mount at an accelerated pace and no longer purely by the hand of mere misfortune.
Seven players simultaneously sidelined with hamstring problems have cast increasing aspersions of the drawbacks behind Klopp's notorious high-pressing philosophy.
That approach came back to haunt him with a patched together line-up comprising misfits, outcasts and callow youth.
There was only a slight degree of mitigation as Klopp was forced to sacrifice "gegenpressing" for babysitting.
Liverpool's recent philosophy of "if you cannot beat them, sign them" has again come home to roost as their previous assailants continue to falter in their famous red shirts.
Where Christian Benteke was able to break Anfield hearts, notably during last season's semi-final at Wembley, he now infuriates them.
The Belgium international's immobility continues to belie his previous reputation as a fearsome and free-scoring front man.
A flying start to his Liverpool career offered a glimmer of hope that his £32 million ($68m) price tag would not see him becoming Andy Carroll's heir apparent.
But, outshone by his teenage strike partner in Jerome Sinclair, Benteke continues to represent an increasingly poor fit.
Like several who stuttered through at St James' Park, he will not be long for Liverpool.
Neither will Adam Bogdan, another player who failed to transfer his previous form against his current employers.
The appalling judgment shown as Lee Holmes' in-swinging corner found its way into his net on the stroke of half-time was a far cry from the player who delivered a perfect shut-out when Bolton Wanderers secured a draw at Anfield in the competition just 12 months ago.
As quickly as he threw down the gauntlet as Simon Mignolet's understudy, the Hungarian has shown himself to be no more infallible than his superior.
It is a theme which runs through Liverpool's current ranks and is threatening to extend to their manager.
"Liverpool need a goalie, like Jack butland. if a goalie that you have had over the last six or seven years is losing you six points a season and a goalie comes in and saves you at least six, that is a 12-point turnaround, which is a lot of points. So Jack butland i am sure will be on a lot of teams’ lists."
- Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson