Reds’ “complacency and lethargy” to blame for “self-inflicted” derby frustration – Media on Liverpool 1-1 Everton

11 December 2017

The media felt Liverpool were the architects of their own downfall and were unimpressed by Jurgen Klopp’s rotation in the 1-1 draw with Everton.


The spoils were shared in the 229th Merseyside derby after the Reds carelessly let slip a winning position to drop two points.

Mohamed Salah’s stunning strike before half-time gave the Reds a deserved lead, but a moment of stupidity from Dejan Lovren gifted the Blues a penalty and a point after Wayne Rooney converted.

A lack of ruthlessness also contributed, with Liverpool wasting several good openings to find the second goal that would have killed off the contest once and for all.

Klopp will be frustrated to see another lead slip, and the draw adds pressure to Wednesday’s clash with West Brom which the Reds must take all three points from.

Before attention turns to that clash, here’s how the media assessed the frustrating derby-day draw.

 

The media felt Liverpool were their own worst enemies in surrendering victory, and discussed where the Reds went wrong

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 10, 2017: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton, the 229th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce was among numerous journalists who felt Liverpool ultimately cost themselves, labelling the loss of all three points as “self-inflicted”:

But if Liverpool really wanted someone to blame they only had to look in the mirrors of the plush home dressing room.

Their wounds from the 229th Merseyside derby were self-inflicted.

The BBC’s Neil Johnston assessed Liverpool’s inability to turn dominance into goals was the Reds’ biggest failing:

Liverpool clearly felt it was a soft decision yet the hosts must also look at themselves for their inability to secure victory after failing to turn their long spells of possession into more than one goal.

This Is Anfield’s Karl Matchett went one further on the wastefulness and directly pointed the finger at Sadio Mane for “unforgivably” wasting the big chance to kill the game:

Only one goal up in the derby and with three players waiting an easy tap-in, it was unforgivable. It was a bad day all round for Mane, but that moment was simply not acceptable.

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe felt Klopp’s side paid the price for taking their foot off the gas in the second-half:

There will be denial, of course, but it was the home side’s complacency and lethargy once ahead that was their undoing.

 

Reporters offered general thoughts on the 229th derby, with some shocked by the “gulf in class” between the sides

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 10, 2017: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Everton's Ashley Williams during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton, the 229th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Firstly, Iain MacIntosh, writing for ESPN, noted the almost disproportionate difference in quality between the two sides:

The gap in quality between the two clubs has rarely looked so vast.

Pearce likened the clash to a cup tie with “the minnows trying to pull off a giant-killing act”:

At times it was like watching one of the minnows trying to pull off a giant-killing act. The gulf in class was vast but Liverpool paid the price for not being ruthless enough.

The Mail’s Matt Lawton was pleased to see such a vast amount of English talent on show in such a fixture:

There were 11 Englishmen in the two starting line-ups and 13 British players in all, with a healthy sprinkling of young players now attracting the attention of England manager Gareth Southgate.

For Dominic Solanke and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, team-mates in that Under-20 World Cup winning side and now leading the attack for the two teams here, it represented a wonderful opportunity.

 

Klopp’s selection sparked plenty of debate, and there were mixed feelings on the German’s rotation

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 10, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks with Dominic Solanke after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton, the 229th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Writing for Goal.com, Melissa Reddy defended Klopp’s rotation and explained the result cannot be pinned on this as Liverpool’s performance was so superior:

The suggestion that Klopp’s selection is the reason for his side matching their longest-ever unbeaten run against Everton with a draw rather than victory is a result-based analysis rather than one taking into account the contrasting performances as a whole.

Bascombe criticised Klopp’s decision to rotate for such a key fixture:

If teamsheets can surrender momentum, Klopp had already offered the visitors hope before kick-off. He left out Coutinho and Firmino, both on the bench.

No doubt the Liverpool manager will argue the glut of fixtures means rotation is essential, but in a Merseyside derby?

Oppositely, the Mirror’s David Maddock thought the selection illustrated that Klopp “has an understanding, and not a lack of respect” for the historic fixture:

Liverpool needed to treat this as a derby, not another cavalry charge, and they did with Henderson and Milner scrapping in midfield and Solanke physical up front.

That shows Klopp has an understanding of this fixture not a lack of respect for it.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 10, 2017: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson and Everton's Tom Davies during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton, the 229th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Guardian’s Andy Hunter labelled Klopp’s rotation “careless” and felt the weakened selection unnecessarily “offered Everton a lifeline”:

Rotation resembles flawless management when it works, needless caution when it does not. Needless caution offered Everton a lifeline and Rooney seized it.

[…]

Klopp’s careless rotation policy has worked well throughout a hectic winter schedule but it was not hard to imagine the havoc his team could have wreaked with Firmino and Coutinho on from the start.

Bascombe also assessed it was the wrong decision because Liverpool needed the threat of individual brilliance against the negative, deep-sitting Blues:

It would need individual quality to breakthrough. This is where Liverpool are evolving, even with the South Americans watching on.

On a similar train of thought, This Is Anfield’s James Nalton felt the lack of creativity the selection left in midfield was a major problem:

His midfield lacked creativity though, choosing both Henderson and Milner when one of the other players at his disposal.

Meanwhile, Matchett assessed Klopp’s subs as a bigger issue than the rotated selection – especially that which saw Salah withdrawn with the game still ultimately in the balance:

But just one goal up in the derby, taking Salah off when Mane was underperforming and still 25 minutes remaining might not have been the best move.

 

The watching journalists provided thoughts on individual performances

Almost all reporters felt it was a penalty, but ESPN’s Dave Usher thought Lovren was “unlucky” to see the spot-kick awarded:

Somewhat unlucky to concede the penalty as Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin initiated contact and then tumbled to the ground. There was very little the much-maligned Croatian could have done to avoid it but given his track record of costly errors few will be prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Nalton was impressed with Joe Gomez and feels the right-back is showing he’s ready to play centre-back if the struggles of first-choice options tempts Klopp to reshuffle:

Looks like he could be a big part of Liverpool’s future. Reads the game well and then has the strength and speed to intervene.

[…]

If the other defenders continue to make mistakes then he could get the nod in the middle come the latter half of the season.

Matchett thought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produced “one of his displays in red so far”:

Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, put in one of his best displays in red so far, playing a hybrid role between central midfield and runner into the wide areas.

His closing down, delivery into the box and general approach to the tactical role was excellent, and he again served notice of his ability to be a regular player in big matches for Liverpool.

And finally, the Liverpool Echo’s Andy Kelly felt Jordan Henderson responded to being left out in midweek with “typical professionalism” in a “decent showing”:

Jordan Henderson responded with typical professionalism, something which shames those for whom he remains the first-choice Anfield boo-boy.

[…]

A decent comeback from the Liverpool captain.

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