Don’t just blame defenders for our goals-against column, says Moreno
Liverpool must adapt to Klopp’s style, Spaniard tells Chris Bascombe
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