When Jurgen Klopp arrived in Merseyside in October 2015, it seemed he could do no wrong. However, as his first full season in charge draws to a close, it’s clear that even Klopp isn’t perfect.
He came to the Premier League as one of the most respected managers in Europe following his success in the Bundesliga with Mainz and Borussia Dortmund. Klopp certainly made his mark in his first six months in England too; Liverpool reached the finals of the Europa League and the League Cup but were unable to celebrate with any silverware at the end of the season.
However, following a busy summer transfer window, fans hoped 2016-17 would bring success and they were in the title race before Christmas. A poor start to the new year and back-to-back defeats in the EFL Cup and the FA Cup ended their trophy hopes but Champions League qualification will go some way in making up for that disappointment.
Despite exceeding expectations in the opening stages of the season, Liverpool’s title chase fell apart and some fans will feel aggrieved. Could Klopp have done more to impact the Reds’ Premier League season? Did he make mistakes in the cup competitions?
EPLIndex have selected some of the managers most costly mistakes in 2016-17…
1) Failure to bring in several new signings in January
Ahead of Klopp’s arrival, it was clear Liverpool needed to bring in several new signings in some key areas of the starting XI. Klopp went some way to addressing the defensive issues by securing Joel Matip’s services in August but the centre-back has been fairly injury-prone this season and has struggled to gain regularity in the side. Sadio Mane was also a huge boost but his absence in January was always going to be an expected loss.
What was most concerning was Liverpool clearly needed attacking additions to stand in for Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge during their absences this season and Klopp failed to address this in the winter transfer window. Injuries in midfield also disrupted their progress and with a bench that regularly featured inexperienced teenagers, it was clear strength in depth was needed. Klopp didn’t address this issue and Liverpool suffered for it as their fringe players were unable to ensure progression in the cup competitions and the Reds’ title chase faded in January.
2) Too much rotation in the FA Cup
After failing to invest in the January transfer window, the Liverpool squad looked thin going into the busy new year schedule. Klopp chose to rotate the squad a bit too heavily though, making up to 10 changes to the Liverpool starting XI for their clashes against Plymouth and Wolves in the FA Cup. It didn’t pay off as the youngsters struggled to find the necessary creativity to breakdown Wolves and were beaten 2-1. Liverpool were knocked out as a result and in the space of two weeks, they were out of two cup competitions and their title hopes seemed to have faded.
3) Late substitutions
At times, Liverpool have needed some injection of pace, creativity or just fresh legs. However, while every supporter has been screaming at their TV for changes, Klopp has looked hesitant on making substitutions. It’s clear he has chosen the starting XI with full belief they can do the job but sometimes it just hasn’t worked. Sturridge’s introduction against Southampton was deemed far too late by many and that was not the first time Klopp waited until at least the 70th minute to make a change.
4) No ‘Plan B’
Klopp’s philosophy is an exiting one and when it works, Liverpool can be one of the deadliest attacking sides in the Premier League. However, when one or two key players are missing, Liverpool don’t look as fluid in possession and they have struggled to breakdown teams who sit back and defend. Disappointing results at home to West Brom, Bournemouth and Southampton have highlighted this and when faced with the problem, Klopp has been criticised for failing to provide a ‘Plan B.’
Klopp has often ignored the opportunity to play centre-forwards Sturridge and Divock Origi together and where Liverpool have lacked width, he has been unwilling to re-introduce left-back Alberto Moreno. If Liverpool want to compete with the best, they must be able to adapt to different tactics; unlike this season, where they have remained predictable.
5) Use of Daniel Sturridge
With Mane, Lallana, Coutinho, Origi and Firmino all missing out at points this season, it is surprising that Sturridge has only notched up just five Premier League starts in 2016-17. The England international is clearly not favoured by Klopp but there have been times when his exclusion was questionable. Against Southampton, Liverpool lacked threat in attack but Klopp waited until late in the second-half to introduce the striker. Sturridge was easily the Reds’ best player and his sharpness, pace and goal-scoring instinct made him a threat. Whether or not Klopp intends to sell him in the summer, Sturridge has been wasted on Liverpool’s bench far too much this season.