Six things bothering Klopp: Gary Lim
Klopp feels the heat as problems mount for Liverpool
SEMI-FINAL, 1ST LEG
STOKE CITY 0
(Jordon Ibe 37)
King of the Kop? Maybe not.
Juergen Klopp is feeling the heat as the realities of English football hit him hard.
Injuries to key players, inconsistent league form and altercations with fellow managers have made the German (right) realise that being a Premiership manager is not the bed of roses he might have wished for.
Here's a catalogue of problems that the Reds boss has to contend with.
Liverpool's win over Stoke City in the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals at the Britannia Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time) came at a huge price.
With Philippe Coutinho (right) and Dejan Lovren hobbling off the field clutching their hamstrings, and Kolo Toure pulling up towards the end, the Reds are down to the bare bones for Saturday morning's FA Cup tie against Exeter.
They have no fewer than 11 players in the queue forming outside the treatment room, including Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Divock Origi. They could also be without a recognised centre back, with Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez also expected to be unavailable for selection.
The upcoming match against Exeter will be their fifth in two weeks.
The extent of the injury crisis has forced Klopp to admit that he is looking for defensive reinforcements this month.
He will be hoping that the owners back him in the transfer window, with Joel Matip, who is out of contract with Schalke at the end of the season, one of the possible targets.
CRITICISM FROM CRITICS
As the wounded list expands, so does the criticism.
Former Liverpool midfielder and manager Graeme Souness said that the injury crisis is not a coincidence, but a consequence of Klopp's high-pressing game which demands too much from the players.
Others, such as ex-Everton player Kevin Kilbane who is now a football pundit, think the change in training regimen since Klopp arrived at Anfield last October is the cause.
Outspoken fitness guru Raymond Verheijen even predicted the injury woes two weeks ago and, after the Reds' win over Stoke yesterday morning, tweeted his hope that "the next generation of coaches will learn from these obvious mistakes by the current generation of coaches".
Klopp can expect the scrutiny on his training methods and match tactics to intensify.
CLASHES WITH MANAGERS
An animated figure on the touchline, Klopp has seen his fair share of rows with his opposite numbers.
Following the end of a 2-2 home draw with West Brom in mid-December, he refused to shake hands with manager Tony Pulis, and claimed that Liverpool were "not allowed" to lose to such opposition who "only play long balls".
Then Jeremain Lens' horror tackle on his defender Mamadou Sakho saw Klopp involved in a heated row between both dugouts during Liverpool's 1-0 win over Sunderland on Dec 30.
In retaliation, Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce called Klopp a "soft German".
In an interview with Talksport yesterday, Allardyce said that "Klopp has not realised just how ferocious our league is during this period of time".
RIGHT APPROACH, WRONG PLAYERS
Coming into the Liverpool job mid-term has proven to be tough act for Klopp, who found himself without plenty of parts for his mobile, high-pressing game.
The most obvious example of this could be seen against Stoke, when he left Christian Benteke, his only fit senior striker, out of the starting line-up.
The £32.5-million ($68.3m) Belgium international is seen as too one-dimensional for his dynamic gameplan.
Klopp also found himself overloaded in the attacking midfield department and without ample cover in other areas.
He has had to make do with an unbalanced squad he inherited from Brendan Rodgers.
With Simon Mignolet always looking prone to individual errors, the Reds have linked with a move for a top goalkeeper for a while now.
In a report by Sky Sports last month, using statistics from WhoScored.com, the Belgian (above) is pointed out as the most error-prone goalkeeper in the Premiership in the period starting from the 2013/14 season.
When he flapped at the cross which led to WBA's opening goal last month, it was his eighth mistake directly leading to a goal during the time.
No Liverpool side have been as goal-shy as Klopp's team.
Their Premiership goal tally of 22 goals from their opening 20 matches is the worst in the club's 124-year history.
Their reliance on injury-prone striker Daniel Sturridge has cost them dearly, as the England international has been able to start just three league matches this season.
The long-term injury to Danny Ings has robbed Klopp of an alternative, and Divock Origi's recent hamstring injury will see him out for perhaps another couple of weeks.
A reluctance to play Benteke, presumably because of his unsuitability for the striker's role in Klopp's gameplan, has seen the German field midfielders as false No. 9s recently. Liverpool's four recognised strikers have combined for a paltry 11 league goals this season.
A new manager comes in and all the chat was about high press further up the field. You can do it for an hour, you can do it for 70 minutes, but to do it for 90 minutes is a big demand on your legs. I just think they’ve fallen foul of that. I think they have to look at what they’re doing in training.”
— Former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness
Injuries? Yeah, that’s it — we will look at our training! We don’t train, we only recover. That is the situation now. There is no training. I am responsible for these things and, if you want to make me responsible, then it’s okay.
— Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp
BY THE NUMBERS
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Ibe's three goals this season have been scored in cup competitions - two in the League Cup and one in the Europa League.
Don't blame training regimen, says Lallana
Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana insists Juergen Klopp's training regimen is not to blame for a spate of hamstring problems which have brought injuries to crisis levels at Anfield.
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho and defender Dejan Lovren both succumbed to hamstring issues in the 1-0 League Cup semi-final, first-leg win at Stoke yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Klopp now has a total of 11 first-team players unavailable - including six either with or recovering from hamstring injuries - and the German admits it is likely to force him into the transfer market.
He currently has only one fit centre back in Kolo Toure, who gave his manager a scare with a late bout of cramp at the Britannia Stadium.
There has been much conjecture about whether the introduction of Klopp's "gegenpressing" style mid-season after he took over from the sacked Brendan Rodgers has led to the injuries - former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness said it was time for the manager to consider modifying training - but Lallana rejected that.
"We have had a change of manager this season. When that happens, lads look to impress more and give more," said the England international. "But I don't think these injuries have got anything to do with any changes to our training.
"We've had so many games recently that we've mainly been doing recovery sessions between games, so it's not as if the training has been really intensive. You can't blame that.
"Sometimes you are just unlucky with injuries and we've had a lot of bad luck recently.
"I know from my time at Liverpool that we've got a world-class medical team here. We certainly can't point the finger at anyone.
"It's a big blow losing Philippe and Dejan, and we just hope they aren't going to be out for long."
Liverpool's packed schedule - Saturday morning's FA Cup trip to Exeter will be their fifth match in 14 days - is more likely to have a contributing factor, Lallana reckons.
"It's just a physical game," Lallana added. "Look at the amount of games we've had over the Christmas period.
"It's been a tough run and, with the demands on players nowadays, there's bound to be injuries.
"If you look at teams around the league, I bet you'll find the number of injuries has definitely increased.
"Not every club is in the semi-finals of this competition (League Cup), playing in the Europa League and about to get going in the FA Cup on Friday night.
"But we'll all stick together. I'm sure the lads who are out will be working extra hard to get back fit."
Klopp has already pointed out his team are doing more recovery sessions than training because of the fixture congestion and the gradual drain on resources has put additional strain on the remaining fit players.
But his biggest concern is in central defence where he is hoping Toure will be fit enough to face Exeter, but Mamadou Sakho, who missed the Stoke tie with a minor knee problem, appears unlikely to return.
"The problem is if all the players in this moment had no injuries in pre-season, they are still in the race and can cope with this intensity, but they have had little things and had no chance to recover," he said.
"We have no break, no chance to recover, but we couldn't wave the white flag.
"We can't say we have games against Arsenal and Manchester so we can have another team against Stoke. We have to get on with it and see.
"I don't know if any have a chance of being fit. Sakho? I don't think so. Kolo said it's only a cramp, but don't know for him either.
"We now have three injured centre backs and the only fit one got cramps at the end of the second half, so that was not the funniest thing in the world."
- PA Sport.