Jurgen Klopp was reluctant play his reserves during Liverpool’s injury crisis last season, with midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho often filling in at centre-back
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has expressed his regret at not trusting certain players last season.
The Reds lost several key stars to injury, as their Premier League title defence crumbled in the early months of 2021.
Liverpool’s injury crisis had a devastating impact on the heart of their defence, as Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez all missed large parts of the campaign.
Klopp signed Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies as cover in January, yet neither defender impressed at Anfield and have since left the club.
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After losing six consecutive Premier League games at Anfield between January and March, the German coach put his trust in reserves Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.
Klopp now has plenty of centre-backs at his disposal after welcoming Matip, Van Dijk and Gomez – as well as new signing Ibrahima Konate – back into the fold.
And he’s admitted he should have given Phillips and Williams a chance sooner, rather than drop his best midfielders into the defence.
“I learned a lot [last season],” said Klopp. “I made mistakes, so it’s easy for me to look back and think, ‘That was wrong, that was wrong.’
“But in the moment when we made decisions, when we put the midfielders back and then played without protection in midfield, last line deeper, not really compact in a lot of moments.
“Maybe we should have just played Rhys and Nat together earlier and trusted the boys more. In that moment I thought they were not ready, later on they were ready and they could both play.
“That would have given us a bit more stability in other areas. Lose a centre-half it’s like breaking a leg.
“But if you then put the midfielders in the last line and open up other gaps then you break your spine and all of a sudden you cannot walk anymore. That’s exactly like it was last year.
“It was not a lost season, I learned more than in other seasons, but it was a difficult season and finishing that season in third position was an absolutely exceptional achievement.”
Liverpool are back to their best this season, winning five consecutive games in Europe and beating Premier League rivals Southampton 4-0 at Anfield on Saturday.
The Reds are third in the table – one point behind leaders Chelsea heading into Sunday’s fixtures – and have a great chance of regaining the title.
But speaking after their win against Southampton, Klopp insisted his team cannot afford to give their opponents chances. The Saints had three shots on target.
“The chances they had were too big,” he said. “The saves of Alisson were too spectacular. That is space to improve.
“But I understand in a week like that when you win three games to keep concentration is a challenge as human beings.”