So far, it has been a season of extremes for Liverpool. While the club put out quite a few scintillating performances, like Wednesday's 7-0 thrashing of Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, they also faced humiliation at the hands of Premier League rivals Manchester City (0-5) and Tottenham Hotspur (1-4). Even as they qualified for the Round of 16 stage in the Champions League, they trail league toppers City by 14 points.
While a lot of praise gets heaped on manager Jurgen Klopp for the brand of attacking football Liverpool play, he has also copped flak from the club faithful for not doing enough to bolster the defence. On being asked about this flaw, some of the club's biggest legends, all seemed to agree on one thing: Klopp is the best man for Liverpool.
Speaking on the sidelines of 'LFC World' event in Mumbai on Thursday, the likes of Robbie Fowler and Sami Hyypia said that the German manager is doing terrific work at the club despite the defensive infirmity the team has shown.
"He is a good manager who brings the best out of his players. The manager has shown lot of faith on players and we (players) like that. If the manager has a little bit of confidence in you, then you want to go out there and perform a little bit better. The form of the players now is tremendous and that's down to the man management of Jurgen Klopp," former Liverpool striker Fowler said.
Hyypia played over 300 matches for Liverpool, and went on to become one of the club's best centre-backs. He helped the team win a slew of trophies, including the prestigious Champions League in 2005. His defensive partnership with another Liverpool legend, Jamie Carragher, became the backbone of the team and the both players' on-field leadership guided as well as inspired the team when they were in dire straits.
In contrast, Klopp's current team have suffered the most defensively. The issue was prevalent last season and it is very much a problem now. The drubbing at the hands of City and Spurs coupled with a 3-3 draw against Sevilla in a match where Liverpool were leading 3-0 at one stage have highlighted the defensive frailties of the team. The reason has been largely attributed to the fact that the team is missing one or two quality centre-backs. Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan have been inconsistent since the start of the season and Klopp's critics have pointed out the manager's inability to sign a world-class defender repeatedly.
When Firstpost asked Hyypia whether Klopp was at fault for the failure to bring in a new defender ahead of the season, the Finnish national came to the manager's defence saying, "Maybe Klopp didn't have the right centre-back to buy at that time. I don't see it as a failure from the manager's side. We were discussing about how Klopp keeps everyone positive. At this moment, that's what is important.
"Before the start of the season, I have been asked the same question and I said 'we have good centre-backs'. I still think we have good centre-backs. Of course, they will try to get better."
Hyypia also stressed upon the fact that buying a player just for the sake of filling a position doesn't make sense. The club has to make a decision on bring in the right kind of player into the team. Particularly in Liverpool's case, Klopp should look to buy a player that he thinks is right for his style of play. Hyypia also urged the fans to trust Klopp because any manager would always want the best for his club.
Apart from backing Klopp, Fowler also showed confidence in striker Daniel Sturridge. Once a formidable force in the attacking department, Sturridge is no more a sure shot starter in Klopp's team. Due to his perennial struggle with injuries, Sturridge has been overshadowed by the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho. There is a lot of speculation about Sturridge's future at Liverpool. Given the lack of game time, him switching allegiances in the coming months might not entirely be a surprise.
"Daniel has a future with Liverpool because the manager thinks so. I still think he's a very good player for the club. But it's up to Daniel to really get into the team and start playing well again. It's tough now because other players are slightly ahead of him and performing better. Daniel cannot have any complaints because the other lads are playing well," Fowler told Firstpost.
From the time when Fowler and Hyypia played the game, the most significant change in football has been the kind of money top clubs spend in acquiring talented players.
Luis Garcia, who was also present at the event, said that such things are beyond anybody's control and it is just the nature of the game.
"Football has always been growing. It's something which is difficult to stop. It's the market that dictates terms. The market wanted to pay €222 million to Neymar because a lot of clubs wanted him to be part of their team," he said.
However, Vladimir Smicer, another former Liverpool player stated that spending so much money on a single player can have adverse effects on that player. "It doesn't necessarily help a player like Paul Pogba when Manchester United got him on a costly fee. He's always under pressure from all quarters to perform. Does it help him at all?" Smicer asked.
Updated Date: Dec 08, 2017 10:46 AM