The important thing about Wednesday is that despite a lackluster performance and major squad changes, Liverpool defeated Preston North End 0-2 and advance to the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup, thanks to goals from Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi.
That’s about all we could hope for as fans, really, but manager Jürgen Klopp had a lot more thoughts about the match than this writer did.
“We didn’t play well, that’s how it is,” Klopp started following the match. “We started quite OK, but then we lost the structure completely and that was the problem. We were too lively, too desperate to get the ball. Everybody dropped and we didn’t have enough players between the lines, we didn’t have [someone] always in behind the lines.
“That’s normal, that can absolutely happen when you don’t play a lot together. These boys, they train a lot together but they don’t play that much [together], so that absolutely can happen. That makes it difficult especially because Preston was not too bothered about any kind of possession, they kicked the ball long and they fought for these balls. All of a sudden, they get set-pieces, the atmosphere comes, we lose the momentum, they get the momentum.”
The biggest challenge, as Klopp mentioned, came from changing the entire squad from the ones that decimated Manchester United last Sunday - 11 whole changes including Adrian in goal. There were still positives to be taken from the individual performances, with Takumi making an impact and a senior debut from Tyler Morton.
“Tyler is obviously a real talent, a real smart footballer,” Klopp continued. “You can see this. His natural movements, natural positions, are really good, so he is a real football-smart boy and the technique is really good.
“Taki is high quality. Taki’s problem is… actually, there is no problem apart from the other players in his positions are really good and thank God for us they are not injured. That’s it. Taki is absolutely fine, Taki is an outstanding moment, training-wise much better than he showed tonight but he was the most dangerous player and scores a goal, which is really important.
“He understands our game as well really well, so you can throw him in and he can be immediately a massive part of our football. Tonight he was, obviously. Taki was good, but we all know he can be even much better.”
The draw for the quarterfinals is on Saturday, 30 October, and will include Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur but not Manchester City, after they lost on penalties against West Ham. That means there is a couple more opportunities for more squad rotation, and potentially more room for a couple more youngsters to get some senior minutes.
“It depends really to the specific situations,” the manager said of those potential squads.
“I don’t think we could’ve lined up completely different tonight. Of course Bobby was here and Diogo was here but it was not really the plan to bring them – we wanted to get through this. We have to see. I really don’t make this decision two weeks or three weeks before we play the next round. We will see.”
Not bad for a club that’s lost out in this fourth round the past couple of years!