Clean sheets looked to be a bridge too far for Liverpool at the start of the season. Of the fourteen goals that have passed through Liverpool’s net since August, five of them were conceded in the opening two games. There was worry. Things were said. People with access to keyboards were crafting exquisite tirades of abuse towards unfortunate defenders.
But, manager Jürgen Klopp has kept faith in his players and in his methods. His Liverpool team must defend together as an eleven-player unit. There is no scapegoat for conceding a goal and Klopp was quick to call out those in the media who look for one every time the bad things happen.
“I was never worried about the defence’s performance, strength or skills,” said Klopp before giving the journalists at his pre-Bournemouth press conference at little poke.
“I respect one hundred percent that you all have to speak about a few things. And when we score a lot and concede a few then it’s something you have to talk about.
“We have to think more about it from a logical point of view: you cannot play football all the time without conceding goals. It’s part of the game. You make a mistake and the other team is doing well, so you concede a goal.”
Liverpool have not been mistake-free for the last three matches, but they have kept three consecutive clean sheets against Southampton, Sunderland and Leeds. For Klopp, this uptick in defensive stability and a team-wide facility for recovering from blunders is a product of the team having trained together for longer and should be a reward for all the players.
“It’s a team game,” said Klopp. “It’s teamwork and defending together and having together the luck in the right situation.
“You have to defend together, close the spaces together and make it as hard as possible for them (opponents) to come through.”
No word yet on whether the journalists will work together to defeat scapegoatism. But, as Jürgen Klopp shows, with a little training there’s hope.