Mid-Season Liverpool Player-by-Player Review

03.01.2016


Here’s Alex’s take on the players Jurgen Klopp needs to evaluate, and his assessment of their performance so far this season.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, December 10, 2015: Liverpool's players line up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match against FC Sion at Stade de Tourbillon. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Note: this is a follow on to Alex’s article here.

Mignolet – quite simply not good enough. Whether it be decision making, confidence, distribution, punching when he should be catching, he’s one of the main reasons we’ve conceded over 120 goals in the last 90 games

Verdict – C minus. Needs to be replaced. Back up keeper at best.

Clyne – the one player who can look in the mirror and not have to glance away from his reflection, A genuine upgrade to his predecessors.

Verdict – B. Consistent, but can add some more threat going forward. Needs to find the right balance.

Skrtel

Another almost ever present in the 120 goals in 90 games statistic, and it’s abundantly clear (at least to my eyes) why he’s part of that dire statistic. Yes, he makes many good challenges and yes he fights for the cause. But he’s positionally indisciplined, he lunges in when he shouldn’t, he backs off when he shouldn’t, and generally adds to panic rather than calm. It’s not a coincidence, or bad luck, that he scores so many own goals.

Verdict – C minus. His time as a first choice central defender is up.

Lovren

I know he’s had a couple of improved performances of late, but let’s not consider him as the new Alan Hansen just yet. He needs to show a level of consistency from now until the end of the season to show he’s up to the standard required. Maintains the tendency to panic when under pressure. Still, a recent glimmer of hope when a few weeks ago all seemed lost for him.

Verdict – C. The next 5 months will likely make or break him but his partnership with Sakho has seen 5 clean sheets in 8 games which should give Klopp some food for thought.


Sakho

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 31, 2015: Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho in action against Chelsea during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The only central defender who has shown anything like the form (or ability) expected, but has still been somewhat erratic. Injuries have curtailed his progress this season, but has the ability, and the heart, to be successful long term.

Verdict – B minus. Injuries have disrupted his season and still finding his feet, but he’s the best we have at the moment in the centre back area.

Moreno

Reminds me of Boris, my Beagle, when he would escape his lead and runs off into the sunset. For all his forward forays, the concern I have is the lack of development as a consistent, reliable defender. We all want to see full backs overlap and attack, but not at the expense of defensive liability. Sometimes I have to look around the entire pitch to see where he’s run off to! Far too often out of position, and must learn to focus on defending as his priority.

Verdict – C. For all his energy and passion, he’s been part of the defensive lapses, both personally and collectively, far too often. Needs to progress quickly as he has Brad Smith and others capable of replacing him

Lucas

Well, against seemingly the vast majority, I’ve never seen Lucas as the top quality answer needed in the defensive midfield role and he’s certainly not the answer recently. (Those who won’t hear a word against him, you can stop reading now.) He continues to offer nothing going forward, spends the majority of games trying to avoid a 2nd booking (which impedes his ability to fully do his job by the way) after a needless hack at an opponent, and it’s a fallacy that he brings protection to the back four. Take a look at goals against when Lucas plays. He’s also too slow for a Premier League where younger, faster players breaking quickly is becoming the norm now. Days are numbered.

Verdict – C minus. His lack of pace is now consistently exposed by players breaking past him, and his incessant need to foul to stop them. Wouldn’t make the first 11 of any other top 6 team.

Milner

European Football - UEFA Europa League - Group Stage Group B - Liverpool FC v FC Girondins de Bordeaux

A massive disappointment from a player I had genuine high hopes for upon his arrival. It now appears that being the consistent grafter in a team where he had Silva, Aguero etc. adding the sparkle, hid the fact that being a consistent grafter is all he has to offer. As a creative force he’s been non-existent and not having the Silva/Aguero type players around him has shone a giant spotlight on his limitations.

Verdict – C minus. Genuinely unsure that he has a future with us due to the one-dimensional nature of his game.

Ibe

Ibe remains a young lad with potential trying to find himself. His decision making will improve with time and coaching, but as of now, his inexperience means he’s choosing too many wrong options. Still, he’s giving his all, is one of the brightest youngsters we have coming through the ranks and certainly has time on his side.

Verdict – C. Must add end product to his game if he is to be successful, but I’m confident he will

Lallana

It’s hard for me to remember such a silky, skillful, technically gifted player who offers so little to a team. Some of his movement and ball control is a joy to watch, he works tirelessly and yet remains the Stewart Downing of 2015/16. No goals, and 3 assists just isn’t acceptable in 20 games. As a player, he’s been a disappointment – as a 26 million pound player, he’s been a disaster. I have come to the conclusion that he doesn’t have the mental strength to roll up his sleeves, dig deep and fight for the cause.

Verdict – C minus. Too weak physically and mentally.


Allen

As expected, rarely starts, and rarely does anything of note when called upon. Offers nothing defensively, nothing going forward, and nothing in midfield. What does that tell you?

Verdict – D. Bye Joe

Henderson

He’s a step up from several of his midfield peers, and you can never question his commitment. But should he be comfortably Liverpool Football Club’s most reliable midfielder? He’s a very good player, he’s captain, but a great like Gerrard, Souness, Molby, he is not. He’s another whose season has been hampered by injury, but even when he’s been fit has been nothing more than decent.

Verdict – C+. Needs better players around him, then his passing ability and energy can be better utilised.

Firmino

Firmino, Newcastle (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Let’s not beat about the bush here, Firmino has been absolutely dire. I’ve been watching Liverpool for over 40 years now, and (Man City aside) NEVER have I seen such a feeble introduction as the displays witnessed by this boy. I’ve truthfully never seen a Liverpool player s**t out of tackles like he does. Some of his first touches, passing and decision making have been League 2 standard at best. He might yet come good, but so far, he’s been awful.

Verdict D – Klopp has faith in him, so I’ll watch and wait and happily hope to be proven wrong.

Can

One of the few players so far this season who has earned his stripes. He’s not the finished article by a long stretch, but seeing as it’s his first season in his proper position, he’s been solid and decent – and if I could use those same terms for more players, we wouldn’t be languishing in mid table. He shows heart, passion and courage – three characteristics in short supply around him.

Verdict – B. For a young lad, in the absence of a consistent midfield partner he’s done well and is visibly growing as a player and an influence with each passing game.


Coutinho

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action during the Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield. (Pic by James Maloney/Propaganda)

The little magician seems to have misplaced his wand. Since the massively encouraging battering of Man City, Coutinho’s form has dipped alarmingly. He’s back to taking speculative pot shots from silly positions, but in contrast to his fellow Brazilian, at least he tries. He’s also offered 25% of our goals this season which can’t be sniffed at given our inability to hit the back of the net.

Verdict – B minus. Add quality alongside and ahead of him and he’ll be back. But cut out the attempts at worldies Phil.

Benteke

I think wherever Benteke plays he will score goals, He just has that instinct and eye for a goal. But, by god he has to do more! He can’t just pop in a goal every 2 or 3 games and feel his job is done. Aston Villa we are not! He needs to graft. He needs to work, and he cannot be so lackluster and static. We’ve heard him recently talking about how the manager is coaching him to be more involved and mobile, then I watch the games and he’s as statuesque as ever. Today, his lethargy stretched to his inability to even get off the ground, where he won 2 out of 13 aerial duels. I asked the question in a prior article, is he a half yard slow after coming back from injury, or is he just half a yard too slow? You decide… but let’s not forget he is our leading scorer and god knows where we’d be without his six goals.

Verdict – B minus. But time will tell if he has what it takes in a Klopp team

Origi

Early signs weren’t good but his hat trick against Southampton certainly helped his confidence and development. Has looked much more the part recently and his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. At least he’s built a foundation now so let’s hope he can flourish.

Verdict – C overall. One of the few (like Lovren) whose rating would be higher if based on his last few games.

Overall

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 6, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the Premier League match against Newcastle United at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

So there it is… overall we are a team far below average because too many players are far below average in either their ability or performances. The one major bright shiny object we have in our favour though, is a certain soft German at the helm.

He now knows everything we know, he’s sharing our pain at the kind of anaemic performances we experienced both today, and far too often this season. But I am certain we have a manager who won’t accept anything less than excellence and he will strive relentlessly for it.

We’ll need to live with some more ups and downs, and likely some more depressing defeats while Klopp realises his vision. We might not even make the lucrative top four which is becoming more of a harsh reality with every defeat.

But all is not lost – not by a long stretch. Short term, we need to brace ourselves for more struggles as Klopp separates the wheat from the chaff. But if you watch his reaction to what he saw in the post match interview today you’ll see it in his eyes…

… that longer term, we have exactly the right man to take us back to the summit.

Happy New Year Reds. YNWA.

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41 COMMENTS

    • I don’t know if you have seen the documentry on Klopp to the Kop , I think it’s something you’d enjoy very informative from growing up to his time at Mainz and Dortmund, I know you’ve alaways been a big fan of Klopp, I’ll send it to you on twitter, it’s very inspirational and hopefully alot of LFC fans will take pride from it, you can really feel this guys passion

    • He is our top scorer in his first season despite having minimal service from wide areas… I think there are merits in calling him a B-

      If anything, i’d say C- for Lallana is generous… If Firmino is a D, Lallana should be that too… More expensive, experienced, same league, second season with us. None of Firmino’s excuses should apply to Lallana.

      • I don’t recall seeing Lallana bottle tackles. Not seen Lallana looking lost and uninterested in games. Lallana gives his all for the team every game he plays, and although his goals and assist tally are not as one would hope, the fact that he creates space from his movement for others to exploit means he has contributed to the wins we have achieved, far more than Firmino has.
        Lallana C Firmino E

        • I’m sorry… i prefer to keep it simple. Job of attacking players is to get goals and assists.

          If Lallana cannot get those, he is just a more expensive version of Allen. Allen also throws in a tackle and gives his all for the team every game he played… so did Lambert, so why did we sell him?

          Work rates are great to have and i loved Kuyt for example… but he always popped up with an important goal when we needed it. Lallana so far hasn’t.

          • The real issue is he is another number 10 along with Couts and Firinmo. I have no doubt Lallana would thrive at a club where he played the central number 10 role….as he did at his previous club.
            To judge purely on goals and assists and not his entire contribution is foolish!

  1. Fair bit harsh on Henderson the nothing more than decent part, afters saying Lucas wouldn’t be in the any other top 6 teams, but Henderson, would walk into midfield’s of Tottenham, Everton, City and also would have for Mourinho’s Chelsea.

    And Moreno too.

    A sign of things no Sturridge.

    I guess I am so calm cause I am done with all the ranting by yesterday.

    • Exactly waaay too harsh on Hendo. If Can, Coutinho and Benteke are B then so is Hendo – when he was back he showed how critical he was to our midfield. Far too much Hendo hate!

  2. Allen

    As expected, rarely starts, and rarely does anything of note when called upon. Offers nothing defensively, nothing going forward, and nothing in midfield. What does that tell you?

    Verdict – D. Bye Joe

    what can i say still think your being generous to the welsh Xavi
    ps still chuckle everytime i hear the welsh xavi if that comment had been about any player from any other club and he had been so poor i would never stop laughing

  3. IMO the only ones good enough to stay, are…Clyne, Sakho, Can, Coutinho, Ibe,Origi and a “fit” Sturridge. I like young Smith, Teixeira and I know Henderson is not there, but I have never rated him.

  4. B- for Benteke? Oh come on! He’s been rubbish most of the time, lazy and inconsistent. He should score more then those few goals for a 35 mil guy.

  5. Well firmino is afraid of the physicality in the prem
    But had the other players been more clinical, he could have had almost an assist per game

  6. There is only really Origi, Clyne, Hendo and Can (and I suppose I should incude Coutinho) who can say they deserve to wear the shirt, all else have been woefully poor…
    Ibe is a kid, so we can cut him some slack, but I recall all this chat about spending the summer working with Kenny while all else were on their holidays… Not sure exactly what they were working on….
    Can and his all too often nonchalant touches of the ball wind me up no end.. Far too often he tries to be David Silva and knock the ball on with a cheeky and extremely casual flick, that never succeeds, but that aside, he’s alright that kid.
    Coutinho also does my nut… Everyone raves about him as if he the next coming, but I’ve known for a longtime, he’s blagging it… Thats right, he’s blagging his way through it, and I think because he is the best we have attacking wise, the rose tinted glasses are permanently on… He is selfish and one dimensional.. end of.. he very rarely has one of those games people like to claim are regular like, and more often than not, he is just…missing…
    There is alot we need, but fundamentally, it’s a shift in the way we think about Liverpool Football Club… It’s like an old race horse who refuses to believe it ain’t upto it no more…
    Problem is though, it’s at the very top this arrogance festers.. The board room, full of suits.. People who love the glamour of football, but don’t really grasp anything beyond the spreadsheet…
    We can’t just throw money at it and hope it works itself out, likewise, we can’t hope to stick to a strict policy of under 24’s only and hope they are talented enough to drive us forward, because lets face it, if Sterling sells for £49m, that ain’t going to work either.. To make it work, we would have top camp out in maturnity wards hoping to nab em before Barcelona got wind of em…
    We can’t spend £30 odd mill on a striker who doesn’t fit the managers style of football, and then refuse to spend the extra £1m to buy Salah for £11m, or spend an entire summer transfer window trying to negotiate a deal for Moreno that turns out to be £12m… We can’t do all that, and then refuse to meet the asking price for a truly world class potential goalkeeper…
    There is too much flapping… develop a plan, you now have one of the most coveted managers in world football.. Back him to succeed.. If not.. f”k off….and leave us alone.. we want to play and watch football, not some pathetic soap opera.

    • Regarding Ibe. Good you pointed out his summer work. I was thinking about that too. He is young and young players burn out. Do you think he might have overdone it by not resting enough in the summer?

      • I can’t have imagined it was too intensive, but at this time, Sterling went on holiday to Jamaica for 2 weeks, or was just dropped the season before hand, don’t think he played quite as many games as Ibe has initially…

  7. Morenos description had me in fits of laughter , it put this vision in my mind of a golden retriever running off down the beach , HAHAHA thanks for the laugh Alex, loved it

      • And won absolutely no trophies in that period? I’d give them 1/10 too. We’d be a bunch of chokers then. You don’t win a silver you lose a gold.

  8. Completely rediculous assesment. He has started with by pretty much giving everyone a C and working from there..

    How can this be sensible…?

  9. Some of the ratings are a bit harsh but I see where he’s coming from…the reason Benteke and Couts have gotten better ratings compared to the others is because they’re our 2 big goal scorers this season.

    Giving Hendo a C+ and Firmino a D is particularly harsh IMO…Moreno too could get a B-

  10. Well, if Benteke is worth a B, let’s sell him on for big bucks and buy someone who doesn’t need a map to find the goal or a kick up the pants to put some effort in.

  11. The problem with all of this lot is that they don’t seem to gel as a team or be on the same wavelength as each other.

  12. Overall hard to argue against his assessment although the marks accorded Henderson, Coutinho and Benteke just a tad generous. Milner to me is not a disappointment as I never expected much from him. A poor signing only mitigated by being a free, but the wages….that’s another thing. Klopp has his work cut out.

  13. All these guys should be made to fight 1 round with Rhonda Rousey before every match to shake & wake them up from lethargy :D

  14. Hi Alex, it’s always nice to see people putting in the effort to write something. So, with 2016 and news years resolutions a tip of my hat to putting in the effort.

    That said, I think it’s (just as the piece earlier about midseason ratings) it doesn’t reflect the actual ratings TIA hands out per game. So, I did the numbers.

    Migs 6,5
    Clyne 6,5
    Skrtel 6,1
    Skaho 6,6
    Lovren 6,6
    Moreno 6,3
    Hendo 6,4
    Can 6,4
    Lucas 6,4
    Milner 6
    Ibe 6
    Lallana 5,9
    Firmino 6,1
    Coutinho 6,3
    Benteke 6
    Origi 5,6
    Ings 6,4
    Gomez 6,7
    Sturridge 6,1

    Mind you, this is the league only.

    • According to this Lovren, Sakho and Gomez are best rated…and still our goal difference is negative (-2). IMO you can’t rate Lovren same as Benteke then. I know he scored two winners in last three games, but my point is that Ings, if on pitch, would score at least 4…not to mention his pace, agility, willingness and generally fighting spirit, which all of Bentke is lacking

  15. A comment on the most generous ratings:
    Clyne is just a younger Glen Johnson. Directly involved in loads of conceded goals, and going forward gets stuck dribbling into trouble too often.
    Can has more defensive errors than most players and does not compensate with attacking creativity. Plus he dribbles himself into trouble too often, sometimes recovering with great flashy efforts (this might fool people to think he is doing great defensive work).
    Lallana is a juggler, not a footballer.
    Benteke has scored a few, but is otherwise not contributing a whole lot.

  16. Not really grasped the idea of the internet have you Chris? Or fans having and sharing opinions?

    A fan writing his opinion for a fans website means he’s not ‘leaving it to the manger’.

    • Maybe, maybe not, but I don’t hide behind the name ‘Mod’ and am a little tired of so called ‘opinion’ crawling across social media as if it’s gospel. Maybe you don’t understand how the internet works!

  17. Fair assessment. I’d rate as an example, Benteke lower, and Firmino higher. But hard to argue with an overall grade of c/c+……..that equates to a finish somewhere between 8-11……….which is all we are at the moment.

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