Liverpool lack a leader, says Gary Lim
Klopp has his hands full rebuilding this Liverpool team
MAN UNITED 1
(Wayne Rooney 78)
By the final whistle, Liverpool had used up all the ammunition they had.
They hunted in packs and swarmed forward from the first minute to the last, determined to give Manchester United a battering they wouldn't forget.
The Red Devils retreated and retreated, then dug in to patiently wait for the target to come into sight.
Even an occasion as infectious as this could not get Louis van Gaal to unshackle his men from his pragmatism.
United won, thanks to skipper Wayne Rooney scoring the only goal of the game with their first and only shot on target in the 78th minute.
Liverpool lost, committing football's biggest sin of not taking the many chances that came their way.
Juergen Klopp will undoubtedly feel a sense of injustice but, in truth, it was just what Liverpool deserved.
They showed their dominance but not the cutting edge.
They bared their fangs but couldn't bite.
They won respect, but not the points.
Unlike his predecessors, Klopp had inherited a team devoid of a leader or a world-class player.
Where are the Steven Gerrards, Luis Suarezes, Sami Hyypias and Robbie Fowlers?
The one closest to that bracket, Philippe Coutinho, was absent, another victim of Liverpool's injury curse.
Why should the defeat be any surprise then?
The Reds lacked a leader to grab the players by the collar to show them the way, like Gerrard would during his time at Anfield.
Captain Jordan Henderson displayed plenty of guts, but ultimately lacked the finesse to make things happen.
Neither did Klopp have anyone to change the game through a moment of individual brilliance.
Roberto Firmino was about the most dangerous player for the Reds and that said a lot.
That was the main reason Liverpool couldn't make the breakthrough at Anfield yesterday.
It is why they have scored a pathetic 25 goals in 22 Premiership games this season.
It is also why Klopp has struggled to get the team to consistently perform at a level expected of his calibre - his league record of five wins, four draws and five defeats tells the story.
The deficiency is most obvious against teams who sit back, when they tend to struggle for ideas to break down a packed penalty area.
Adam Lallana found himself with just David de Gea to beat in the 11th minute, but couldn't head the ball past the onrushing Spaniard.
James Milner soon after found himself in another excellent opportunity, but unwisely let the ball run across him which in turn narrowed the angle too much for him to find the target.
Emre Can, given more freedom to roam forward because of the inclusion of holding midfielder Lucas Leiva yesterday, could have opened the scoring shortly after the break, but also couldn't beat de Gea.
In the 66th minute, Can smashed a belter which looked destined for the back of the net, but Man of the Match de Gea came to the Devils' rescue once again.
Then Rooney struck. It was a sweetly struck volley, although van Gaal's men hardly deserved it.
But that was the difference between the two teams yesterday.
After the match, a glum-looking Klopp said rather philosophically: "We have more chances, we have more of everything but, in the end, we have nothing."
With each passing week, it's becoming increasingly clear that Klopp won't progress much with this current lot.
It's time to bring in some leaders and stardust.