It’s a tale as old as time — or as old as this season anyway: Liverpool lose the lead in the dying minutes of a game. Last Saturday it was against Chelsea, but before that it was Sevilla, and so on. This has been something of a theme for the Reds this season, and Klopp has recently had to defend his game management skills as a result.
Many believed that the boss should have made changes sooner in the second half, expecting to see Sadio Mané or Roberto Firmino come in when Liverpool were defending their slim lead over the champions. Instead, Klopp chose to bring on Gini Wijnaldum for Danny Sturridge in the 66th minute, a move which saw little benefit, and then Adam Lallana and Mané didn’t make it onto the pitch until the 89th minute, when the lead was already lost.
“You can always say game management is an issue but if you think about the opponent, you have to say it’s not that easy,” Klopp said.
“You need moments to adapt to it, to react on it, and in these moments the other side can score a goal. We lost the lead in two games but making a big story of it, I don’t get it.
“It isn’t that, it’s just the quality of the other team. You have to defend sometimes with luck but if you all want us to defend deeper, as many teams are doing in situations like this, they need luck. They need a crossbar, they need a post. We didn’t have it.
“They didn’t create many or plenty of chances. The goal was not even a chance, it was a cross, and usually Simon (Mignolet) gets it or another defender can get it. Then we talk about this, it makes really no sense to be honest.
“We can always do better but in this specific game I don’t think it was possible to do it better.
“The performance was absolutely okay. If somebody wants to make a game management thing of it then that doesn’t help because you cannot ignore the quality of the other side.”
Chelsea are a great side, but Saturday’s game was Liverpool’s to give away. With incredible talent like Firmino and Mané at Klopp’s disposal, it’s hard to understand why they weren’t utilized when the team needed them.
Klopp’s protestations aside, this is going to continue to be discussed until improvements are made or the team can find a way to see out tight games. Becaue right now, it feels like no lead is safe enough in the last 15 minutes