It hasn’t been the start that Fabinho had hoped for when he signed for Liverpool over the summer. The Brazilian midfielder had a decent pre-season and most expected him to feature for Liverpool at the start of the season but so far he’s remained sidelined.
There was a lot of expectation with Fabinho. He had a really good reputation at AS Monaco. And he is an actual defensive midfielder. So, when Jürgen Klopp has clearly taken the option not to include Fabinho in either of Liverpool’s two opening matches, our feelings get weird. We trust Klopp and figure he has a plan. But also, we think, what if Fabinho is shit?
He isn’t. You were right, Klopp has a plan. The manager knows that he can be patient with the player acclimating to a new style of play. Klopp wants Fabinho to curb a tendency to drop too deep, but there could be other settling-into-the-league issues being worked out on the training ground. Meanwhile, nearly a full compliment of midfielders is available to Klopp at the moment. So, there’s no rush.
James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keita have started the opening two fixtures. Jordan Henderson is fully fit and expected to play against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. Adam Lallana is available. Xherdan Shaqiri has already shown that he can handle himself more centrally, too.
“Yes, it is about players understanding the position and who else is available as well – otherwise Fabinho would have been involved in the squad as he was in the first week,” said Klopp.
“That is it. It is different football to what he is used to but he is improving already with big steps. I can see that in the sessions and that is cool.”
Knowing what we know of Klopp, we can be sure that he is communicating directly with Fabinho and encouraging him and teaching him. The manager has a good reputation of coaching players into his team. Klopp was patient with Andy Robertson last year at this time when the newly-signed left-back couldn’t find his way into the team. Now, the Scotland international is Klopp’s (and everyone’s) preferred choice in the position.
“You see Andy Robertson running around here at Melwood now,” Klopp said, “and he’s a completely different person to the one who was here in the first three months. That’s how it is, but everything will be fine.
”Fabinho is used to playing at a high level in France. It is not about who we play but about how we play. For sure it is not nice for a new player. It never was, but it is all fine.”