Football: Klopp takes it on the chin

Wolves forward Andreas Weimann scores the winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup. The under-fire Reds will be hoping to get their season back on track with a positive result against Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Wolves forward Andreas Weimann scores the winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup. The under-fire Reds will be hoping to get their season back on track with a positive result against Premier League leaders Chelsea.PHOTO: REUTERS

A home league loss and two domestic Cup exits in eight days leave Reds boss reeling

LONDON • Manager Jurgen Klopp accepted responsibility for Liverpool's stunning FA Cup fourth round exit as Championship club Wolverhampton earned a shock 2-1 win at Anfield.

Klopp's line-up featured three teenagers and right-back Connor Randall starting his first game of the season, a selection which resulted in a third consecutive home defeat in the space of eight days.

A home loss to Swansea all but ended Liverpool's hopes of catching Premier League leaders Chelsea, while Southampton also won at Anfield in the League Cup semi-finals in midweek.

Fixture congestion goes some way to explaining why Klopp chose such a weakened line-up against Wolves but the Reds boss was criticised by pundits, including England legend Gary Lineker and Liverpool great Mark Lawrenson.

"I'm responsible, I feel responsible for this performance," he said. "I thought we could do better and obviously we couldn't. I have to think about this, learn about situations, players and all games. It was an important game for us and we couldn't deliver.

"I was asked if it is the low point of my Liverpool time until now and I don't know if it is.

"But if it is, it's a perfect point to turn around because it is not possible to go lower. It is absolutely right that it feels bad."

Yet things could get worse for the Merseyside club, as they host leaders Chelsea in the Premier League tomorrow.

The last time Liverpool lost four straight games at home was way back in 1923.

Lineker was particularly damning of Klopp's approach to the FA Cup, a competition Liverpool have won seven times.

"Don't get Klopp playing his reserves with no European football," said Lineker via Twitter. "Shows a lack of knowledge of the depth in English football and respect."

Liverpool's hopes of winning silverware this season are in tatters. But Klopp refused to be critical of any of his youngsters, or the other senior players in the line-up.

"We played a Championship team at Derby in the (League) Cup and they had not a percentage of a chance. That is not years ago," Klopp said. "It is not right to judge people in a very bad moment. It is not about not wanting, it is not about getting the right players in the transfer window.

"We have to go through the history of Liverpool, better sides lost against worse sides. We know what we have to change, only we have to show it. I cannot explain every single thing of today. I don't look for excuses."

Richard Stearman headed Wolves in front inside the first minute before Andreas Weimann doubled the lead before the interval.

Divock Origi scored a consolation goal in the 86th-minute, with Liverpool unable to end Wolves manager Paul Lambert's record of never having lost at Anfield, as player or manager.

"I've never been beaten here - that's with Celtic, Villa, Norwich - but that one is the best," Lambert said. "That surpasses everything because of the gulf in leagues, the gulf in players.

"I thought we deserved to win. On the counter-attack I thought we were incredible. We had four 18-year-olds in the squad and to a man they were outstanding."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp takes it on the chin'. Print Edition | Subscribe