With Jürgen Klopp stuck at home thanks to a positive Covid-19 test result yesterday, Liverpool’s assistant manager, Pep Lijnders, was in command when the Reds kicked off against Chelsea in London this evening.
The frantic match featured multiple wonder-goals, missed chances, defensive errors, potential red cards, inconsistent officiating, and lots of stress for fans of the two sides playing. It was a fair result that will leave both sides feeling like they could have taken the full three points.
Despite another uneven, frustrating performance, manager-for-a-day Lijnders went pretty easy on his players in a post-match interview with Sky Sports. He instead chose to focus on the drama and entertainment value Liverpool provided once again, even if the result wasn’t what they desired.
“It is never boring with us” admitted Lijnders. “Incredible intensity from the start with both teams. We would have wanted more control, we had so many good counter-attacks but it was just missing the last pass.”
“Overall, for the public, it must have been an unbelievable game. I have to say, the situation we are in it is a big compliment for the team. We could have made a lot of excuses for today but our boys fought hard with all the heart they have.”
“We want to approach each game like it is a final. In each game we play, whoever is wearing the shirt or on the bench, we are showing this character.”
It’s understandable that the assistant manager wasn’t as critical of the performance as Klopp likely would have been, but it’s hard to share his desire to find the positives after squandering another two-goal lead. Even if the squad has been thinned by injuries and Covid, the inability to defend a lead has grown into a real concern.
While the performance left much to be desired, it did take two fantastic goals, including one that Mateo Kovačić likely couldn’t replicate given 100 tries, for Chelsea to snag the draw.
“Two incredible goals,” Lijnders conceded. “You always try to put organization in place to stop these situations but two incredible goals.”
Lijnders also seemingly alluded to his thoughts on Sadio Mané’s controversial elbow in the first minute of the match, which had many calling for the Senegalese winger to be sent off.
“It was good that game was 11 v 11. We are here to entertain and to win each time and as I said at the start of the interview it is never boring.”