Reds' upswing continues

Liverpool captain James Milner celebrating with Emre Can after scoring from the penalty spot. That was the only goal in the game, which took the Reds to sixth place on the Premier League table.
Liverpool captain James Milner celebrating with Emre Can after scoring from the penalty spot. That was the only goal in the game, which took the Reds to sixth place on the Premier League table.PHOTO: REUTERS
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp (left) can take credit for presiding over their revival, even if performances have not improved significantly. But one win in 10 league games is the kind of run which inevitably increases pressure on Swansea manager Gerry M
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp (left) can take credit for presiding over their revival, even if performances have not improved significantly. But one win in 10 league games is the kind of run which inevitably increases pressure on Swansea manager Gerry Monk.PHOTO: REUTERS

New boss has stabilised Liverpool but results are actually improving faster than quality

LONDON • The presence of Brendan Rodgers' successor in the adjacent dug-out offered Garry Monk, the under-pressure Swansea City manager, an unwelcome reminder of managerial mortality. But it is the manner in which Juergen Klopp has galvanised Liverpool that should concern him more.

For all that stability can bring, a sixth win in seven games, albeit against a Swansea side of limited ambition, provided a strong argument that change can sometimes be for the better.

Taken in isolation, a 1-0 Premier League defeat by a rejuvenated Liverpool at Anfield is no reason for a manager to lose his job, particularly when Swansea contested and were only denied a point by the award of a penalty from which James Milner scored.

"It hits his elbow and (Swansea left-back) Neil (Taylor) is facing the other way," Monk argued.

TOUGH RUN

We play again on Wednesday against Southampton and that's my problem. I would like to have a break to enjoy the win, but we don't have that. ''

JUERGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on their recent good form

"I thought hand-ball had to be intentional. It clearly wasn't intentional but the linesman had his flag up very quickly at the Kop end where all around him were howling for a penalty."

The problem for Monk is that this was a loss that fits in with a sequence of poor results.

One win in 10 league games is the kind of run which inevitably increases pressure on the man in charge.

 

TOUGH CALL

It clearly wasn't intentional but the linesman had his flag up very quickly at the Kop end where all around him were howling for a penalty.

GERRY MONK, Swansea manager, on the hand-ball decision which resulted in Liverpool's penalty

His side, who were fourth at the end of August, are only four points above the relegation zone.

And, regardless of Monk's appeal for perspective, he also recognises that a combination of poor form and a perilous league position makes him vulnerable - despite the fact that he led Swansea to eighth place last season - their highest league finish since 1982.

It was that reality that accounted for Rodgers, one of his predecessors at Swansea and a guiding light in his career, when Liverpool's standards dropped.

The introduction of Klopp has acted as a catalyst for improvement in terms of results, even if performances are not yet of the kind of consistent quality that would allow the new Liverpool manager to buy into the sense of momentum that others are experiencing.

"Maybe I should feel we have momentum, but I don't," he said.

"We play again on Wednesday against Southampton (in the League Cup) and that's my problem. I would like to have a break to enjoy the win, but we don't have that.

"We have to fly to Southampton, then fly back and then fly to Newcastle.

"We are on the road this week but everybody is limping in the dressing room."

Importantly, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, who both made their first appearances under Klopp as second-half substitutes, were not among those feeling the ill effects of a hectic run of games.

"It is good news to have these two important players back after injury," added Klopp, who indicated that influential midfielder Philippe Coutinho should play tomorrow after recovering from a hamstring injury that had sidelined the Brazilian since late October.

Significantly for Sturridge and Henderson, they have come back into a side who are on an upward trajectory after having exited it during troubled times.

Anyone who watched Liverpool toil against Swansea would be hard pressed to make a case for significant improvement having been made since Rodgers departed.

But, on a day when Swansea nullified their main threat - the counter-attack - by sitting deep in a low block, this was a game when getting a result by whatever means necessary was all that mattered and Klopp's team achieved that objective.

"For most of the game we had the ball," the German asserted.

"We had to fight in difficult circumstances and that's what we did. We deserved the win, and that's all we should care about."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline 'Reds' upswing continues'. Print Edition | Subscribe