Micah Richards believes Liverpool are ‘caught between systems’ as they continue to endure a difficult season and has accused Jurgen Klopp of being ‘too loyal to some’ players at Anfield.
The Reds suffered their ninth Premier League defeat of the season, and third in a row in all competitions, on Saturday as Manchester City cruised to a 4-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium, despite Mo Salah’s first goal in the 17th minute.
Such was the class gulf between the two teams that even the German publicly criticized most of his players for their performances over the weekend (according to the Daily Mail), something he has rarely done during his time at the club. .
Richards feels that the intense pressing that Klopp’s Liverpool were previously synonymous with is now ‘non-existent’, with continual mid-game formation changes affecting team cohesion.
He wrote in his latest Daily Mail column: “What is happening with Liverpool? You’ll have to go a long way to find someone who has more respect for Jurgen Klopp than I do, but I’m really baffled by what I see from his team.
“Had they kept up the momentum and consistency of last season, to be in the title race, we would have been talking about them as one of the best teams in Premier League history.
“The levels they had shown were off the scale, which makes what is happening now so puzzling. Liverpool are stuck between systems (they kept switching between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 at Manchester City) and that fierce pressure from them now doesn’t exist because one man will charge alone and there is no cohesion.
“All season I’ve thought, ‘Liverpool will show up today’, but I can’t say that now. Your senses tell you when you show up to see them that you’ll see a quality side, but then the game starts and you can’t figure out what’s going on.
“Klopp has been too loyal to some of the men who have been with him all the time and too slow to catch up.”
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Interestingly, Soccerment stats show Liverpool lead the way in this season’s Premier League in gegenpressing intensity at 58.81%, and that metric shows how often a team tries to regain possession immediately after losing the ball in attack areas.
However, the naked eye can spot that Klopp’s side aren’t pressing opponents with the same energy they had during the peak years of his reign at Anfield, with their current woes epitomized by how Trent Alexander-Arnold doesn’t keep up. It goes back to Jack Grealish. fourth goal on Saturday.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what the Reds’ biggest problem is at the moment, with several facets of their performances this term open to scrutiny, though Richards’ observation about formation changes affecting their pressing game is interesting.
The simple reality could be that this team has gone down the drain so many times under the current manager, especially during his relentless four-pronged quest in 2021/22, and that a rejuvenation of the squad in the summer could bring renewed vigor to Liverpool on next station.
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