So that happened. Liverpool’s ineffectiveness in 2017 has been simultaneously puzzling and utterly unsurprising. A lousy run of games got worse as Liverpool crashed out of the FA Cup in a deflating manner, succumbing to Wolverhampton Wanderers by two goals to one at Anfield. The sole remaining Reds supporter who was feeling optimistic about Chelsea’s upcoming visit was last seen trying to use expired gift cards at Starbucks.
What did manager Jürgen Klopp have to say about all this? For starters, it seemed as though Klopp was - is? - as perplexed as anyone else about the stark difference in Liverpool’s form once the calendar flipped the page to 2017.
“We started bad, it didn’t get better,” was Klopp’s 100% accurate summary of the proceedings. “There’s not a lot of good things to say today about this game. Difficult to explain. Of course the start gave them immediately confidence we were obviously not ready in this moment. Second half was better but it should be, to be worse was nearly not possible.”
Asked about the mix of youth and experience called upon to start the match, and whether or not he was disappointed in the collective response, Klopp quickly shut down the “players didn’t show up” narrative, but also very pointedly noted that he alone bore the responsibility for the lineup as well as for taking any lessons away about individual performances.
“I’m responsible for the lineup,” stated Klopp emphatically. “It’s not allowed to blame single players and say you didn’t do that or you didn’t do this. Of course I see the players playing. You learn a lot about players in these situations too. It’s my responsibility, I’m responsible for this performance 100%.”
So, whither Liverpool Football Club? Another defeat mid-week against a well-drilled Chelsea machine will not only represent a further disappointing nadir, it could also do lasting damage to the Reds’ tenuous grip on a Champions League spot. At the risk of overstating the obvious, defeat by Wolves may have consequences other than simply closing the book on cup success this season.
“We will see,” noted Klopp ruefully when asked about the significance of this match on the season as a whole. “We can’t say nothing happened because the opposite is the truth. It’s not allowed that we suffer more than we already did, obviously. Our problems today, it was obvious that we caused them ourselves. We should have played better, but we didn’t, so that’s a fair result.”