Don’t just blame de­fend­ers for our goals-against col­umn, says Moreno

Liver­pool must adapt to Klopp’s style, Spa­niard tells Chris Bas­combe

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football -

Life as a Liver­pool de­fender de­mands the wear­ing of a tin hat as much as shin pads. Jur­gen Klopp’s side are of­ten de­fined as the epit­ome of care­less­ness, the flam­boy­ant at­tack­ers un­der­mined by a fee­ble back four. Only once in the Pre­mier League era have a Liver­pool side con­ceded more goals after six league games.

But for those on the re­ceiv­ing end of crit­i­cism, direct­ing blame solely at the de­fend­ers is un­just. “It’s a team is­sue,” says left-back Al­berto Moreno.

“Eleven play­ers have to at­tack to­gether and de­fend to­gether. It would be a pretty tough job if you only re­lied on the four guys named in de­fence and the goal­keeper. So to at­tach blame only to the de­fend­ers is al­ways going to be a lit­tle un­fair. It’s about work­ing to­gether as a team and as a block, and that’s a job you do with 11 play­ers.

“We can’t deny the fact that ir­re­spec­tive of whether we’re get­ting crit­i­cism or not, we know we have to im­prove de­fen­sively – and that we’ve been con­ced­ing too many goals. So it’s some­thing that we are work­ing on – to try to con­cede less as a team.”

A trip to New­cas­tle, a fix­ture once fa­mously dubbed an ex­hi­bi­tion of ‘kamikaze football’ dur­ing the Kevin Kee­gan and Roy Evans era of the mid-90s, is a re­minder that some mod­ern prob­lems are rooted in tra­di­tion.

Klopp, like Evans and Bren­dan Rodgers (for the record Liver­pool con­ceded more at the start of the 2012/13 cam­paign), favours cre­ativ­ity over cau­tion. As un­der those pre­de­ces­sors, it prompts the lament that Liver­pool are a dom­i­nant centre-back or de­fen­sive mid­fielder away from a bal­anced side. “You do get some teams where the wide men tuck in, drop back and make it a lot eas­ier,” said Moreno. “The team as a whole de­fends deeper and you are get­ting help from mid­field­ers.”

But the Spa­niard is adamant that the broad prob­lem is not one of style.

“Lack of con­cen­tra­tion,” he says. “You would put it down to that more than any­thing else. It’s just at par­tic­u­lar mo­ments, maybe from a quick throw or the sec­ond ball drop­ping from a cor­ner, we’ve not managed to clear. We’ve re­ally got to fo­cus on not los­ing that con­cen­tra­tion. The man­ager’s ap­proach has al­ways been to de­fend well, but at the same time when we at­tack, at­tack in num­bers. That is his most fun­da­men­tal idea: as soon as we lose posses­sion, do ev­ery­thing we can to get it back as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Get stuck in: Al­berto Moreno puts in a firm chal­lenge

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