“Abject in all departments” – How the papers reacted to Watford 3-0 Liverpool

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Following Liverpool’s abject 3-0 defeat at Watford on Sunday, we take a look at how the morning newspapers saw the game.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 20, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp looks dejected as his side's slump to a humiliating 3-0 defeat by Watford during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Vicarage Road humiliation was Jurgen Klopp‘s worst game as Liverpool manager to date, with his side producing a shambles of a performance against Quique Flores’ team.

Adam Bogdan’s early howler set the tone for the rest of the game, and Jordan Henderson was arguably the only starter to play close to his normal level.

It is another defeat that is tough to take, and Liverpool’s so-called easy run of fixtures has started appallingly, with just one point earned from matches against Newcastle, West Brom and Watford.

Here is how the morning newspapers reacted to the game:

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 20, 2015: Liverpool's goalkeeper Adam Bogdan fails to catch the ball cleanly leading to Watford's opening goal by captain Troy Deeney during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo didn’t hold back in his assessment of Liverpool’s display, and feels reinforcements are needed in January:

Liverpool produced a performance so lacking in any redeeming features that Jurgen Klopp simply has to make some late changes to his festive wish-list.

The Reds weren’t just beaten at Vicarage Road, they were embarrassed by newly promoted Watford.

Liverpool were abject in all departments. This wasn’t just the worst display of Klopp’s reign, the Reds haven’t plumbed these kind of depths since the debacle at Stoke on the final day of last term.

Klopp has been adamant that he wouldn’t splash the cash in January. The German wanted to give the current crop an extended opportunity to prove they should be part of his Anfield revolution.

But now he has to reassess. Some are too young to be relied upon to deliver on a regular basis at this stage, others don’t look as if they will ever look the part.

The Telegraph‘s Jason Burt was critical of the Reds’ mental strength, in particular the way in which they responded after conceding:

The way in which Liverpool reacted to the goals was far more hurtful to Klopp than the concessions themselves as the manager struggles with trying to determine how a team can destroy Manchester City and Southamp­ton, scoring 10 goals in the process, and yet still be so fragile on occasions.

They badly miss Daniel Sturridge but there were precious few other absentees. The consignment of Christian Benteke to the substitutes bench – Klopp first turned to Divock Origi as he, interestingly, then pushed Lucas to centre-half – spoke volumes of the £32?million striker’s current standing.

Klopp, though, is not deluded. He knew, when he arrived, there would probably be a reaction and then a reaction to the reaction from a squad that has obvious weaknesses to it, although the way in which they folded was alarming.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 20, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the Premier League match against Watford at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Daily Mail‘s Matt Barlow bemoaned the performance of Bogdan, who failed to show that he can challenge Simon Mignolet as Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper:

Bogdan was not the only Liverpool player who started badly, but his mistake set the tone. A simple catch spilled from his grasp. Perhaps he was distracted by Troy Deeney running across his eye-line but he should not have dropped it.

Under pressure, the goalkeeper claimed the ball was kicked from his hands as he scrambled to recover. He might have had a point, but no foul was given and Ake forced it over the line from a few inches out.

[…]

For Bogdan, making his Premier League debut for Liverpool after some fabulous form in the Capital One Cup, it was a dreadful start on a day when he was desperate to impress. Simon Mignolet was out injured this was a big chance.

Bogdan was soon picking out the second, this time courtesy of a precision finish by Ighalo.

Mike Walters of the Mirror felt Klopp’s decision to play no striker back-fired:

One of the biggest anomalies in modern football is the infuriating fad with playing attacking midfielders as a ‘false’ No.9.

Most fans hate it – because it’s a sign of weakness, a timid admission that your centre forwards are not up to the task.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopps’s commitment to high-pressing, high-tempo, high-energy football looks like a false prospectus when Daniel Sturridge is injured and he leaves both Christian Benteke and Divock Origi on the bench.

Martin Skrtel’s tortured afternoon, which became short-lived because of injury, allowed Herr Klopp to throw on Origi before the break, probably admitting* under his breath “Ich habe ein Fehler gemacht” (*I made a mistake).

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 20, 2015: Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho in action against Watford's George Byers during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There were woeful individual performances all over the pitch, and in his ESPN player ratings, David Usher felt Mamadou Sakho, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino were Liverpool’s worst players on the day:

Sakho – Had a torrid time in his first game back from injury. His game fell apart after the break when he was all at sea and simply couldn’t cope with the power and desire of the Watford front two. That said, most problems were his own making as he over complicated things time and again.

Lallana – Completely ineffectual and frequently lost possession cheaply. Fortunate to last as long as he did before being substituted for Jordon Ibe on 72 minutes.

Firmino – Contributed absolutely nothing and that performance in the 4-1 win against Manchester City last month is looking increasingly like a false dawn. He’s been utterly woeful ever since. Replaced by Christian Benteke after 72 minutes.

> Video: Jurgen Klopp’s post-Watford press conference

> Bogdan Blunders, Key Men Hide & Reds Spineless: 5 Talking points from Watford shambles

> Watford 3-0 Liverpool: Player Ratings

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