Sept 16 (Reuters) - The sight of Virgil van Dijk reappearing in Southampton colours on the same day that Liverpool suffered another defensive calamity hardly improved the mood of Anfield supporters starting to question manager Juergen Klopp’s methods.
The failure to buy the Dutch centre half — or anyone else as an alternative — remains a sore point on Merseyside where Liverpool’s substandard defence was exposed for the third match running in a 1-1 Premier League draw with Burnley.
No one blamed Dejan Lovren on Saturday because the Croatian, who was badly at fault in conceding Sevilla’s Champions League equaliser on Wednesday, was injured, but his replacement fared little better.
Ragner Klavan, and partner Joel Matip, were criticised after failing to clear the ball and allowing Burnley to score. That left the home side facing an uphill struggle to secure the win demanded after last week’s thrashing by Manchester City and the disappointing midweek draw.
Klopp did his best to put a positive spin on the result but it is again hard to look beyond the club’s failure to solve their recurring problems in central defence.
The manager said he was “angry with the result but pleased with the performance” after Liverpool failed to make their subsequent dominance pay.
“It’s our fault. We were dominant, fantastic attitude. We played good, were fluent with seven changes, but only one goal,” added Klopp, who recalled that last season Burnley beat them 2-0 at Turf Moor.
“It’s the best we have played against Burnley since I have been in. In the past we didn’t feel good in the game. Today I saw fluid movements, passing between the lines, speed, crosses,” added Klopp, whose side registered 35 efforts at goal to the Clarets’ five and enjoyed 70 percent of possession.
“We have to take the point and carry on.”
Klopp’s midweek assertion that his scouts had been unconvinced after watching potential alternatives to their main target Van Dijk about “500 million times” attracted scorn on social media with some fans complaining that the German was starting to sound like former manager Brendan Rodgers in his final days.
Even the sight of Philippe Coutinho starting his first game of the season hardly lifted the mood with Klopp’s case probably not helped by a parade of former Liverpool greats before kickoff as the club marked their 125th anniversary, a celebration that only highlighted the current problems.
Ultimately, Klopp will be measured against the achievements of the past, which is never far away from Anfield. With the club already five points behind leaders Manchester City, it is starting to look like a long, hard winter for the German. (Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Clare Fallon)