RAWK Round Table Southampton 3-2 LFC

Posted by BabuYagu on March 21, 2016, 04:28:13 PM

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"The problem with confidence is a little bit, I'm not sure if I've said it before,
it's a little flower and if you step on it it's away in a second. It's much more difficult to let it grow than to let it die"


- Jurgen Klopp, pre-Southampton press conference, 20 March 2016

It seems there are two types of people on RAWK right now. Those who think Skrtel is entirely to blame for this collapse & result.... and those who do not. I have to say I can see both sides of the arguement on this one.

In one hand, itīs too simplistic to just put everything at his feet. Itīs not his fault we didnīt put away 2 or 3 goals more in the first half - and we really should have done. They were a mess. Itīs not his fault the decision was made to disrupt our solid looking defence and bring on a player who has been out for a long time and looked anything but a pillar of strength in his recent reserves outing. Itīs not his fault Benteke failed to take the easy chance that Lallana gave him. Skrtel had absolutely zero control of any of those situations.... any or all of which would have prevented the second half comeback we witnessed.

However, in the other hand, if you look at the game purely from the point Skrtel was introduced, where he had the opportunity to influence the game, then I would argue that every moment from there was due to him. And itīs really harsh, he has been out for a long time, heīs not looked very solid in comeback games and to be honest for those reasons Iīd have had Lucas or Kolo on the pitch before him. But at some point he needed to be given the chance to play his way back into first team contention. Kolo & Lucas were both given chances and this was Skrtels. 2-0, in a game we looked in complete control of. Klopp felt safe enough in his footing in this game that he could withdraw Lovren, protect him from the emotion of the occasion and risk of a second yellow, and also give Skrtel 45 minutes of first team football to play himself back into match fitness. With hindsight, itīs easy to find fault with that decision of course. But, if you take out of it your worries about Skrtel and look at it from a management of resources point of view, you can see how that would make some sense.

However, what Klopp maybe didnīt realise, was that Skrtel is our flower trampler. Our defence for a long time has been a mess regardless of who played and which manager was in charge. However, for the first time in a while, Skrtel was out of first team contention and without him around our confidence began to grow. It didnīt matter who was playing either. Kolo, Lucas, Sakho, Lovren or even Caulker. The very raw Moreno. Flanno without any football in 2 years. Clyne having a stinker at Old Trafford. Milner trying to fill in at full back. No matter what was happening - Mignolet grew in confidence as did our defensive unit as a collective. Maybe itīs because they are all working together. I do believe a large part of it is down to the absence of Skrtel though. He is a nightmare for a goalkeeper. He hates attacking the ball. He much rather back off and try to get a block - which for goalkeepers means shots from closer distances, shots with obstructed views, shots being bent round players, close range deflections, more own goals... all these are symptoms of Skrtels style of (I call it) Ice Hockey defending. Thatīs not to mention him defending deeper than the backline a lot of the time and dragging every into his own box as the rest cannot push out.

And so Skrtel is introduced and within a couple of minutes heīs given away a penalty. It didnīt matter that Mignolet made a world class penalty save. And it really was world class. The damage had been done. The flower had been trampled. The confidence that had been growing and starting to bloom with a dominant Lovren and aggressive Sakho at the back was killed in a moment. Southamptons, on the other hand, started to grow. "We can get at these". "They look so vulnerable back there now". You just know that was in their minds.

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“Before you are tired, you think you are tired. If you don't think you are tired, it is easy."

- Jurgen Klopp, November 2015

When you lose that confidence, fear can start to take itīs place. Afraid of letting them back in the game. Afraid of pushing forwards. Afraid of taking risks, being creative, having a shot, making a tackle. Then you just want the game to end. You start to feel tired. Thinking "we just need to hold out, we have a 2 goal lead". "1 goal lead". "We still have an away point". Nothing.

Thankfully, in Klopp, we have a manager who understands better than anybody the importance of psychology in football. He is making us mentally stronger. To do that, he actually needs moments like this. We only have the league and the Europa League now to experiment in and if Klopp still has questions about his squad, then the league is absolutely the place he needs to search for those answers before next season. It hurts, it will be painful to watch and there may be other moments like this (hopefully only in the league and this season though). But as we have seen with Benteke, price, salary, status, value.... these things mean nothing to Klopp. If Benteke ruins our attacks, he wonīt play. If Skrtel ruins our defence, he wonīt play. He believes in giving people chances. Benteke had plenty. Maybe Skrtel will have more too. Hopefully, not in the Europa League though.

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