Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed the content of the note he gave to Daniel Sturridge during his side's 1-0 defeat to Southampton in the EFL Cup on Wednesday was a "new system," per Mark Dobson for the Guardian.
The Reds striker was seen relaying information to several of his team-mates after receiving the note, which contained details of some new positions for the players during the semi-final first-leg fixture.
"New system," Klopp said, per Dobson. "Whatever we want to call it, 3-5-2. Lucas [Leiva] at the back, Emre [Can] in the centre, two wingers, two strikers. Half space for [Adam] Lallana and [Philippe] Coutinho. That’s all. No more information, but it was enough. Maybe it was a little bit too late."
Liverpool's surprising tactical change did not have the desired effect. Southampton continued to look the sharper of the two sides and may even be slightly disappointed to be taking just a one-goal advantage to Anfield on Jan. 25.
Southampton had been on a run of four matches without victory following the 2-2 draw with Championship outfit Norwich City in the FA Cup on Saturday, making the result even more surprising. Nathan Redmond scored the crucial goal in the first half, as tweeted by Southampton:
Southampton FC @SouthamptonFC
Advantage #SaintsFC! ⚽️ https://t.co/51DIIbOrB12017-1-12 00:01:19
Klopp acknowledged that the formation switch was perhaps made at the wrong point in the match.
"We gave the paper when the game was already running again, that was our mistake," he said, as per Dobson. "I would say seven or eight [of my players] knew immediately. Roberto [Firmino] needed a little longer. But he was close enough to us. Things like this happen."
The defeat was Liverpool's second successive match without scoring a goal—they drew 0-0 with Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round on Sunday—but Klopp was adamant that the note to Sturridge was not an act of frustration. As per Dobson, he said:
That’s not about being frustrated. That’s about thinking you have chance, that’s all. What type of guy would I be if I sit outside, if we play well, I think I’m a wonderful manager, that’s not like this, we tried to help. We thought it makes sense to have real wingers, high, make it more difficult for them to defend the wing, to have to play someone in the centre, Phil and Adam. Two strikers. Roberto with Daniel. That’s all, it’s not because we’re frustrated.
The German has yet to win any silverware with Liverpool despite reaching two finals in his first season in charge, losing to Manchester City on penalties in the 2016 League Cup final and falling to a 3-1 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League final a few months later. His chances of exorcising those demons by lifting the EFL Cup in 2016-17 were dealt a blow on Wednesday.
Klopp's team held 68 per cent possession at St. Mary's Stadium but only amassed two shots on target, according to WhoScored.com, highlighting the resilience of Claude Puel's side and the visitors' bluntness.
The Reds travel to Old Trafford to play Manchester United on Sunday and will be desperate to ensure they do not make it three consecutive fixtures without scoring a goal.