Rachel Riley called Tottenham ‘bottle jobs’ on Friday night after they failed to extend their winning run, and whist the comment from this fledgling Friday Night Football presenter got the widespread condemnation it deserved from the actual experts within the game, it certainly opened up a channel of debate on the subject as to which clubs had lost their nerve and deserve greater scrutiny for their performance this season.
Whilst the two Manchester clubs were undoubtedly at the forefront, given the money spent and the reputations of the two managers, it was Liverpool that were under interrogation the most given their seemingly inability to grasp the opportunity to take a Champions League spot.
It is hard to disagree, given they have only been out of the top four once since September and without the added pressure of European football to contend with – like Chelsea – it should have been a procession given the demands on their direct rivals.
Let’s be honest, at times Liverpool have been breathtaking to watch and their displays against the top six clubs in particular must leave their fans shaking their heads in amazement, whilst confusing the hell out of the neutrals looking on as they surrender points against the lesser sides – especially at Anfield.
You would think a manager like Jurgen Klopp would have all the motivational skills in the locker to inspire this group of players. However, you have to wonder how many of them are actually listening.
All players understand the importance of big games, as do fans who ensure the atmosphere is cranked up an extra level and that resonates with effort levels on the pitch. However these aren’t the games that necessarily win you the big prizes and it is the ability to grind out results that shows your inner strength as a team. I wonder where the leadership is at this football club at present and whether Klopp is flattering to deceive.
When Klopp arrived it was a deemed a breath of fresh air on Merseyside. He’s likeable – charming in fact – and his CV suggests he is more than capable to walk the walk. However, in a little under two seasons, is the club really evolving and a real improvement on Brendan Rodgers’ rein?
For all of Klopp’s fist pumping on and elaborate celebrations, the excuses for failings are becoming lamer by the passing week – with a dry pitch the latest to be added to this season’s hall of fame.
Of course he maybe simply using this deflect the attention away from his players’ performances, but after what has started to become a frequent occurrence – isn’t this actually a reflection of his own?
James Milner suggested this week that it would be a sickening blow if Liverpool weren’t to make the Champions League this season and lets be honest, it is far from certain while the likes of Arsenal have games in hand and the experience in getting themselves over the line when necessary.
It would be grave shame if they were to miss out given some of the sumptuous football they have displayed this season but something is missing and I find it hard to believe that with a manager who displays so much passion, that his team has shown a continued lack of it at key times this season.
Whatever it is that’s missing, it feels that Klopp’s demands are falling on deaf ears.