Jürgen Klopp has said he trusts Liverpool’s defenders to improve and justify his decision not to sign further reinforcements in the summer transfer window.
The Liverpool defence is again under scrutiny having conceded five goals at Manchester City last Saturday, albeit with 10 men for four of them, and undermined an otherwise dominant Champions League display against Sevilla on Wednesday. Klopp added Andy Robertson to his defensive ranks in the summer but did not expand his search for a new central defender beyond Virgil van Dijk after Southampton reported Liverpool for allegedly tapping-up the Dutchman,
The Liverpool manager, who believes there is too much focus on his team’s defensive flaws and not their attacking prowess, insists improvement will come via the training ground. “Sometimes we make mistakes because we are offensively that strong,” said Klopp before Saturday’s game against Burnley. “If we lose the ball in the wrong moment, it is the most difficult thing to do to defend these situations. It is not that I like it but I still work on it. It is not like I can fix it like this [clicks fingers].
“We are in a very dominant mood and good playing here and there. We were really good from the beginning [against Sevilla] and yet their first offensive situation resulted in a goal. It is not that we don’t see, it is not that we don’t want to fix it, it is not that we ignore it – I said if there would have been a solution out there we would have done it.”
When it was put to him that Van Dijk could have been a solution, he replied: “I cannot speak in this country about any players I tried to get.” He added: “We watched all of them [potential new centre-halves] 500 million times and, to cool the people down, what if the new player doesn’t hit the first ball and he makes exactly the same mistake [as Dejan Lovren did against Sevilla]? A mistake they all made in their life but it is like: ‘He is a £65m signing, he will improve.’ Why do you think the other one cannot improve? I don’t understand that.
“A big part of football and life is really put faith in the people you work with – trust them – because they all can improve. They are all good out there but they are not that good that you say yes, they help immediately. I had to make a decision and the decision was our boys are not worse than them.”
While Lovren was culpable for Sevilla’s opener in the 2-2 draw Klopp insists the team should take collective responsibility. He said: “I didn’t speak to Dejan about it, I spoke to the team about it. It was obvious that he missed the ball. Things like this happen and it’s all about reacting to it.
“With all the history before I came in and since I’ve been here with how people talk about these players, you should try one time to go out there and ask other clubs what they think about these defenders and whether they would like to pick them. You would be really surprised.”