Liverpool’s VAR curse struck again as the depleted Reds were controversially denied victory in injury time at the Amex Stadium.
Pascal Gross converted Brighton‘s second penalty of the game to snatch a point on a day the Reds saw two goals disallowed, two spot-kicks awarded against them and yet more injuries collected.
The rub of green deserted Klopp’s side and taking a point back to Anfield represents a solid effort at a time everything seems to be going against us.
Here’s how the media reacted to the controversial draw.
Reporters felt the match showed how football has lost its way with technology & schedules ruining the game…
The Telegraph’s Jim White wrote how we saw a new, stupid type of result with a manager being “beaten by technology”:
It may have been a draw, but this was a manager beaten by technology.
The Guardian’s Barney Ronay summed up every football fan’s view of the farcical and simply incorrect way that VAR is utilised by officials:
Was it a clear and obvious error? Is anything clear right now? Andy Robertson went to punt the ball away, but ended up kicking Danny Welbeck’s foot as he nipped in. In slow motion it looked like a foul.
Then again, the game is played at full speed and there was little Robertson could do to avoid making contact in what is, after all, a contact sport.
Writing for Goal, Neil Jones focussed on how the current situation is making for a “diminished” product, as injuries and fatigue ruined both teams making for a “dire” game:
The ‘product’ – another thoroughly modern footballing word – continues to suffer. There will be supporters back in stadiums next weekend – a welcome step in the right direction, for sure – but the quality of football they will be watching is diminished, to say the least.
It’s football, yes, but not as we know it. Not now, not this season. The standard certainly suffered here. It was dire stuff at times. Laboured, heavy-legged, disjointed. Both sides struggled.
Ian Doyle, of the Liverpool Echo, wrote that the fans soon returning to stadiums will find a competition that is now “a very different beast”:
Even if precious little is recognisable from the last time Liverpool supporters were able to watch their Klopp’s side in action.
Certainly, the 2,000 fans who will hopefully return to Anfield on Saturday will find the Premier League is a very different beast, a competition where tiring players are now reluctant to overly celebrate goals and technology is now dictating games television frame by television frame.
The media targetted Klopp, criticising the German’s rants and assessing them as counter-productive…
To write that was the Mail’s Oliver Holt, who thinks Klopp’s complaining is in danger of making the players feel sorry themselves with the suggestions everything is against them:
Even he is aware that he has talked himself into a situation where there is a danger his players feel the world is against them.
Everybody is suffering. Everybody is trying to nurse their squads through the fixture overload. Liverpool deserve sympathy like the rest but Klopp is in danger of overplaying his hand.
Peddling the same narrative was fellow Mail writer Daniel Matthews, who wrote that there is almost a feeling of Klopp losing the plot and Liverpool on the verge of imploding:
Instead Klopp’s frustrations are snowballing. Their foundations are crumbling and their performances are suffering now too.
Tom Hopkinson, of the Mirror, thinks Klopp’s rants dangerous for another reason, that being that they are letting the players off the hook for the points being dropped:
Because the danger is gripes can quickly turn to excuses and when they do they will offer his players an out for the points they are dropping.
Klopp, of course, is just trying to protect his players but his frustrations have become the narrative rather than what is happening on the pitch.
Ronay thinks the real problem is the amount of football to be played, rather than the actual scheduling of fixtures:
The real problem is structural: too much football, too little time.
Meanwhile, Jones, in a resigned manner, thinks Klopp is ultimately fighting a losing battle taking on the football powers on this point:
Klopp should certainly not be accused of feeling the pressure, given his side’s lofty position. His points over scheduling and substitutes are born out of genuine concern for his players.
Journalists were split on whether the performance was a case of glass-half-full or half-empty…
Starting with a positive, Doyle felt the match was reassuring as it showed Liverpool still have the “core values” which have driven the Reds’ to success, despite the never-ending difficulties:
But if there was any solace to be taken from a controversial afternoon at Brighton and Hove Albion, it’s that the core values that have helped the Reds to a glut of silverware remain very much intact.
The Mirror’s Alex Milne assessed the display as the latest in a series of underwhelming performances, though strangely failed to acknowledge the impact of the current injury crisis:
This was yet another Liverpool performance which looked worlds apart from their superb displays last season. The Reds lack conviction going forward and look shaky at the back, and unless things improve dramatically soon they will really struggle to retain their Premier League title.
Jurgen Klopp has a lot of thinking to do over the coming days to see how he can put things right as soon as possible.
The BBC’s Emlyn Begley felt Liverpool did well in extremely testing circumstances and felt the Reds were unlucky not to collect all three points:
The result, and not the performance, was the most important thing in this manic schedule – and they were moments away from getting the result they wanted.
ESPN’s Liam Wheeler criticised Liverpool’s lack of “defensive discipline” in giving away two penalties:
You can’t give away two penalties in a game and expect not to be punished, and Klopp will be frustrated by his side’s lack of defensive discipline.
Takumi Minamino came into midfield and was asked to play the role which links defence to attack, supporting from deep and moving the ball quickly, but he was far from accurate or metronomic in this.
Neco Williams struggled at right-back on and off the ball, giving away possession and the penalty in the first half and being caught out of position several times.
Milne lauded Jordan Henderson‘s impact, noting how Klopp’s side looked a different team upon the captain’s introduction:
Without him [Henderson] the Reds looked hesitant in midfield and toothless going forward, with Takumi Minamino in particular still not proving an adequate replacement playing further back than usual.
Henderson came on at half-time and the side immediately looked more confident, controlling the possession more effectively and constantly looking to their captain for guidance. It was the type of game which needed leadership, and Henderson stepped up to the plate yet again.
Finally, Milne thinks Klopp should alter the high defensive line as the current available defenders are not suited to playing such a way:
The high line is simply not as effective without the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, and Jurgen Klopp has some serious thinking to do about whether he can use it with the players he currently has available.