Neil Humphreys: Groundhog Day for Klopp as Pool lose to Leicester
Liverpool's defensive failings still evident two years after German took over the reins
Early next month, Juergen Klopp will celebrate his second anniversary as Liverpool manager. As it stands, the German doesn't have much to celebrate after being bundled out of the League Cup by Leicester City with a 2-0 defeat yesterday morning (Singapore time).
1) WHY IS EVERY DAY GROUNDHOG DAY?
Liverpool dominate possession, but fail to translate their superiority into goals.
Opponents penalise them at set-pieces, profiting from the obvious gaps in central defence.
That was the match report against Manchester City, Sevilla, Burnley and now Leicester City in the League Cup (with the slight exception that the Reds didn't dominate possession against Pep Guardiola's swashbucklers).
The Foxes went ahead through Shinji Okazaki, after Liverpool failed to clear a corner.
Islam Slimani curled home Leicester's second, after Liverpool failed to clear a throw-in.
Slimani's goal was the 16th conceded in nine games for Liverpool, an unacceptable stat that's doomed to end in a trophy-less season if it isn't addressed.
Klopp acknowledged how "sick" he felt after witnessing the schoolboy errors.
But he's a broken record playing over Liverpool's comedy routines at the back.
How many training sessions are required to fix this or are Liverpool's defensive failings beyond repair?
Either way, Klopp must shoulder the responsibility.
His supporters will argue that he made eight changes, but Craig Shakespeare made seven for Leicester.
It was a battle of the reserves and the Foxes triumphed, reinforcing the suspicion that Klopp has no defensive Band-Aid.
2) WHY THE OBSESSION WITH ONE DEFENDER?
Klopp's dealings in the transfer market were either naive or incompetent.
If Virgil van Dijk wasn't allowed to leave Southampton and Liverpool failed to sign the second defender on Klopp's shopping list, then that's incompetent.
If there wasn't a second name on the list, that's naive.
City, Burnley and now Leicester have all amplified the Reds' fumblings in the transfer market.
Spending sizeable sums on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane boosted a forward line that is now being undermined by a failure to strengthen at the back.
As the transfer window was about to close, Klopp had £35 million (S$63.7m) to spend and he wasted it on the wrong player.
3) WHY DID REDS BUY THE OX?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain almost scored against Leicester, but Andy Robertson's low cross towards him was blocked. That was it.
That's what £35m seems to buy these days.
Liverpool's new signing started on the right side of a front three, but did nothing to suggest he's capable of challenging the status quo.
The former Arsenal winger doesn't dislodge Salah or even Adam Lallana, when he returns from injury.
Even Philippe Coutinho is capable of floating over to the right.
Klopp has suggested a wing back's role for the Ox, based on scant evidence.
At Arsenal, the 24-year-old was already drifting into Theo Walcott territory, unable to live up to initial hype or find a regular position.
Against Leicester, his contributions were negligible.
Obviously, he needs time to settle.
But a poor showing raised more questions than answers, such as does Oxlade-Chamberlain even get into Liverpool's best XI?
And shouldn't the £35m have been spent on a centre half instead?
4) WHY TAKE OFF LIVERPOOL'S BEST PLAYER?
On a micro level, it's worth briefly pondering the coaching decision that changed the game's complexion.
Foxes coach Shakespeare said as much. Klopp gave him an early Christmas present when he removed Coutinho at half-time.
The German had made the decision before kick-off, but the Brazilian's excellent performance should've triggered a shift in thinking.
Coutinho started on the left, but cut inside repeatedly, pulling every string.
After scrappy appearances against Sevilla and Burnley, he was more accomplished against Leicester.
Everything flowed through him. But Klopp wasn't for turning.
He took off Coutinho and the game turned in Leicester's favour.
The decision cost Liverpool a shot at a trophy - the only trophy the club have won since 2012.
5) WHY IS KLOPP ESCAPING WRATH OF RODGERS?
No one is calling for the German's head on a spike.
He inherited a defensive basket case from Brendan Rodgers.
But he's had two years to weave his magic and the basket case remains full of holes.
Just imagine Rodgers going four fixtures without a win and conceding 16 goals in nine games.
There would be calls for his head on a spike, as indeed there were. Perhaps a comparison between Rodgers and Klopp is a case of apples and oranges, at this stage.
But there are only so many times Klopp can feel sick over the Reds' defensive ineptitude.
He must find a cure for his ongoing sickness before the mood turns on Merseyside.
Klopp's resume is obviously stronger than Rodgers'. But it's not a bulletproof vest.