Arsenal scored three goals on the weekend, and Alberto Moreno wasn’t the primary culprit in any of them, and yet following the match you could almost have thought the Spanish left back had intentionally kicked the ball into Liverpool’s goal such was the reaction of many fans and pundits.
It might be convenient for those on the outside to find a culprit on whom to blame all the club’s on the pitch problems, but as he prepares for the club’s second game of the season, manager Jürgen Klopp said he wasn’t interested in that criticism.
“I cannot be interested in criticism of other people,” Klopp said. “When somebody has a poor performance and wasn't too good, we talk about him. I'm used to that. Alberto was involved in the penalty situation, so that's something we spoke about. He could have done better, that's right, but that is all.”
When asked about the problems caused by Moreno, Klopp only pointed to one incident—an incident that didn’t lead to an Arsenal goal. It was an unfortunate tackle, an wildly out of control lunge that recalled some of Moreno’s worst moments, and it was fortunate not to lead to a goal. But it didn’t.
The other goals, the goals Arsenal actually did score, weren’t about Alberto Moreno’s tendency to distraction and overreaction. As for the larger question of why the club haven’t strengthened a position where depth is thin even if one accepts that Klopp rates Moreno, the manager insisted it’s not a budget issue.
“It's not about money,” Klopp said when asked why the club have passed on bringing in a left back so far this summer. “It's about playing style, defensive skills, offensive skills. If we'd found it, then you'd know because we'd have made the transfer. Only if it's really the guy we want.
“We have a lot of players who can play in our style of play at left-back. You could say 'he's not a left-back' but that's how it is. We saw [James Milner] play there against Barcelona and is not bad. I had a talk to him and what's his opinion about it. I don't want to force a new position on a player.”
For Klopp, the only reason to bring in a player is because he sees him as the perfect fit. Change for the sake of it isn’t something he seems interested in. There’s also the issue of skill-set, and that while some fans may not like seeing an adventurous left back, that’s the kind of left back Klopp wants.
That he’s comfortable with the hyper-attacking Moreno and a converted midfielder and, barring a shock late change in plans, nobody else is proof of that. That’s the sort of player Klopp wants, and if he’s going to bring in a new guy he has to be sure it’s worth it in the long-term.
“Only if it's really the guy we want,” Klopp added, stressing the need to build a squad rather than just collect players. “We have to build a squad. The problem with transfers is nobody cares about the players who are still here. What do we do with the ones who are still here? Put them away? Get them to leave?
“It's about commitment. If we expect commitment from the players, we have to show commitment too, to work and development.”