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2yrs & 4 windows: Why is Klopp still working with Rodgers' Liverpool defence?

COMMENT: 'They'll get sick of 'im. By the third season, he'll have consumed them. Burned 'em up'. So one source at Borussia Dortmund told us of Jurgen Klopp two years ago - almost to the day.

The theory from Germany was everyone at Anfield would grow tired of him. The intensity. The demands. From the players, to the staff - even the Liverpool fans. It was predicted Klopp would "burn the place down".

But after Sunday at Wembley, is it actually the Premier League which has left Klopp completely drained?

"That's the lowest I've seen him," so said Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool midfielder and manager, after Tottenham's rout. "He wants to cane Lovren. But as a manager you can't. Not in public."

To be fair, Klopp didn't have to. The message had already been made loud and clear. Hooking Dejan Lovren inside the opening half-hour with Spurs already 2-0 ahead was enough. He was to blame. Klopp made sure of that. No words from the manager in the aftermath could match the humiliation the Croatian felt being hauled off a quarter of an hour before halftime.

But it's not like this is all new. For three years the back four at Liverpool have been questioned. As has the goalkeeper. The only one from the five to feature on Sunday not inherited from Brendan Rodgers was Joel Matip. And he joined on a Bosman.

Nothing changes. Nothing ever changes at Liverpool. Is this why Klopp was so down in the post-match? The inevitable groundhog day of error prone defending, questions of transfer policy and why Virgil van Dijk is still running around in a Southampton shirt?

Or could it have been another flap from Simon Mignolet, which led to another goal conceded. That was Spurs' fourth. Harry Kane's second. And, inevitably, ten minutes later the knife in Klopp's ribs was twisted just a bit more.

With the points in the bag and a comfortable scoreline to show for it, Hugo Lloris wasn't going to let standards slip. On 67 minutes he produced one of the saves of the season, somehow pushing Philippe Coutinho's drive onto the frame of his goal. It was breathtaking. As good as anything his teammates served up on the day.

What difference would Lloris make to this Liverpool team? The one of Sadio Mane, Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah? Has Liverpool had a more exciting group of attackers on their books? Certainly not in modern times. But what hope do anyone of them have of reaching their potential when goals continue to be shipped with such little opposition?

Not since the 1964/65 campaign has Liverpool conceded so many goals at this stage in a season. Klopp knows. This isn't getting any better.

The whisper now coming out of the media box - in London it must be said - is that FSG aren't as flush as is claimed. The reason why Mignolet is still at Anfield - and the same applies to Loris Karius - is that the wage demands of higher ranked keepers are out of Liverpool's reach. The refusal to do business with Barcelona over Coutinho and that €90m deadline day bid for Thomas Lemar would suggest otherwise. But when you examine the actual individuals of Sunday's back five...

If the cash is there. Then Klopp must take responsibility. Come January, it'll be FIVE transfer windows he's had to fix Rodgers' defence. His all or nothing approach needs to be questioned.

Sir Alex Fergu... Okay, okay, it's going to slay the Reds fans reading. But this point needs to be made... Sir Alex Ferguson only ever landed Eric Cantona from Leeds United as a plan C signing.

"In the summer (of 1995) we tried for Alan Shearer. Then we went for David Hirst. We were knocked back for both," said Ferguson, who went onto describe how Martin Edwards, the then United chairman, offered him Cantona after a conversation with his Leeds counterpart.

Forget the personalities involved. The point is Ferguson had his plan A, plan B and signed a player as a plan C who would transform the club.

In contrast, Klopp is keeping Liverpool waiting for his plan A. For Van Dijk. And nothing else. It'll cost Liverpool a title challenge. Maybe even a top four finish. But he won't waver.

This'll be the message before Saturday's game with Huddersfield. The questions will be like those before. The answers from Klopp will be the same.

But after two years and four transfer windows, Sunday's performance proved - from Rodgers to Klopp - nothing changes. This defence isn't getting any better.


Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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