Jurgen Klopp Hits out at Criticism, 'Expectations' Aimed at Liverpool

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2019

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp reacts after the final whistle of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on February 24, 2019. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp has hit out at the criticism his Liverpool side have received over their performances in recent weeks. 

The Reds failed to impress as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, but Klopp isn't happy with the level of expectation placed on his team.

Per the Daily Mail's Dominic King, he said:

"One generation has to break through, to make it happen and then for the rest it will be easier. It would be nice if we could be that team. The development of this team is unbelievable.

"We've played in three finals. I don't know a lot of teams who have done that.

"We improve constantly in the table, then the moment we don't improve it's immediately, 'That's not exactly how it was. What's gone wrong here?'

"No plant grows as quick as expectations here. It's like you get an eye problem when you have to watch our football now compared to when we played such wonderful football a few weeks ago. Sorry for that disappointment.

"Yes, there were moments when I wish we would fly a bit more, but you don't fly because you want to fly. You fly because you work for it. Why is it such a problem for us to win 1-0?"

It was Liverpool's third draw in their last four Premier League matches, and their fourth stalemate in five games including their UEFA Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.

On Sunday, the Reds failed to capitalise on United—who were already without Anthony Martial and Nemanja Mariclosing Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard to injury in the first half, while Marcus Rashford played on despite picking up a knock himself.

Football writer Joel Rabinowitz was concerned by the showing:

Joel Rabinowitz @joel_archie

A point at Old Trafford itself is no disaster, it's the performance which is the real worry. Just a total lack of urgency to Liverpool's play, and a ridiculous number of sloppy, misplaced passes and poor decision-making in the final third. United were there for the taking.

As Goal's Jack Sear observed, the Reds' level of performance has been up and down throughout the campaign:

Jack Sear @JackSear

From then up until the Fulham home win or the Watford away win, the performance level seemed to drop in a similar way to how it has now. Not playing with the same intensity. There was the home draw with City, didn’t look quite right away at Huddersfield, Arsenal, Red Star either.

Last season, Liverpool were among the most entertaining teams in the Premier League as they attacked and pressed with almost unrivalled intensity, with each of their front three having superb campaigns.

The Reds have been more measured this time around and more willing to grind out results where needed, but as a result they've been less free-flowing going forward.

That said, it's worth noting that at this stage last season, they'd only scored two more goals than the 59 they've managed in this campaign, so their attacking output hasn't been significantly affected by the shift in approach.

Liverpool have also picked up 12 more points than they did after 27 games last season and conceded 16 fewer goals, so it has paid dividends for them to change things up.

Manchester City won the Premier League title by 19 points last season, having scored 106 goals and routinely blew opposition teams away with heavy wins, but if the Reds lift the trophy this season it won't matter that they didn't do the same.

In the 2015-16 campaign, Leicester City won seven matches 1-0—four of them in a row—on the way to their incredible title win. 

The Reds are one point clear of Man City with 11 matches remaining, so their fate is in their own hands.

They don't necessarily need to recapture last season's swashbuckling approach to keep ahead of the Sky Blues, but they do need to rediscover their clinical edge in front of goal, starting with Wednesday's match against Watford.