Red Trenches Match Day 14

Gearing Up for GW 14

    On Saturday, Brighton travel to Anfield to face the boys at the top.  After a decent start to the season, the Seagulls have hit a rough patch of late losing 3 of their last 5.  That’s not to say it will be a cake walk for Klopp’s men.  The Reds came up flat against Napoli and, depending on who you ask, were lucky to escape last week with 3 points at Selhurst Park. Recent form, and the news that Fabinho will be out for the entire month of December and it’s not all sunshine over Merseyside.  Fortunately, they can put the news of Fabs to one side as he was originally suspended for this game.

     To continue the winning run and snag all three points, we will have to be at our best.  Graham Potter’s men are more then capable of making the bigger teams squirm. Overall I think this is a great test for how Klopp intends to set up Liverpool in a near future without Fabinho.  

Word on the Street 

Across the Fence- The Fab Gap 

     By now we’ve all hear the news we’d been dreading since Fabinho went down before halftime against Napoli.  The biggest question on everyone’s mind is:  Who will fill the role that Fabs has made his own without question?  Social media is awash with every armchair manager’s brilliant fix for this Fabinho size gap the midfield face in December.  The good news is that with Shaqiri coming into fitness, and Kieta, Lallana and the Ox getting back into form Klopp will have a few toys to tinker with to get the system just right. So what are the three most discussed options? 

Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum

     This option has the least disruption to the current system.  Having Milner in the holding midfield role, with the ability of Hendo and him to rotate duties as need throughout the game or even to flip the triangle when pressed through the center.  The biggest issue is that Milner isn’t the player he was two years, even one year ago.  Klopp and Millie himself seem to understand this as he’s been given a bench role this season.   Can the man hold his own for a run of 10 games?  Highly unlikely, but he could prove a vital piece of the puzzle. 

Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain

     With Henderson already having spent a season and a half in the holding role for Klopp, and Alex coming into form again, this is probably the smartest option (Sorry Jordan!).  We know Hendo plays better in a freer role forward, and his performances are sometimes hindered in his old role, but when duty calls no one is more willing than our captain.  He will undoubtedly swallow his pride, and perform to the best of his abilities in Fabinho’s stead.   With Virgil now back there behind Henderson things may go better than they previously for him in this role.  Unfortunately, dropping him back will expose him to the anti-Hendo looney toons, as there will be flaws when comparing him to Fabs in the same role. Regardless, when we lift the cup at the end of the season, people will look back an realize how valuable someone like him is.           

Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana/Shaqiri

     This is one of the most unlikely of the three, with a change of shape and flow being sacrificed for stability.  With Salah’s ankle also becoming an increasing problem though, four through the middle may be an option Klopp is forced into. The good news for the midfielders is, the combinations are endless and it will give all of them a good chance at plenty of minutes.  The biggest downside is obvious.  Changing a system completely halfway through in a season where you’ve been ultra successful is sometimes the equivalent of slamming the brakes on a car running 100 mph.  

The Verdict

     The good news is that the man making the decision is one that all of us trust whole-heartedly.  He is a man who we trust to make the required changes until it works for his teams, and a man we will give time too if he needs it.  The other good news is that none of us are involved in influencing Liverpool in the changes either because I’ve seen some outlandish opinions in the last few hours.  Stick to supporting the team and not advising.  The truth is that all of these will be utilized in some way or another.  Lines will be tinkered and systems adjusted, Klopp will hold the team together with duct tape until Fabinho is fit enough to rejoin the club.  If we play with the heart we have show in the first 14 weeks of the season, we will come out on the other side more confident, and with an arsenal of formation options.  Have the faith and continue to give this team the benefit of the doubt.  Points may be dropped, but we can still turn this into a positive if we all stick together. 

Concur and Conquer 

In Klopp We Trust

     Last week it was Pochettino, this week it was Emery. The crazy carousel of managerial changes has begun and it’s nice that we’re not involved in it.  It reiterates what a gem Klopp is, and how lucky we are that the German landed on our doorstep.  In fairness, it is probably Klopp and Pep who are to blame for good mangers like Poch and Emery to walk after both bringing their respective teams to European finals not 6 months ago.  The league’s standards are being set by what we and City have managed in the last 3 years. 

     It’s hard to imagine that we were in a similar place not very long ago.  Uncle Roy, a distant King Kenny, Rodgers, always chasing the ghost of what we once were and coming up short.  Now we are living in the moment.  Instead of being held to the standards of the 70s and 80s, our gaffer has used the past as a foundation to build a future.  This new era is one is one in which shares a lot with the one Shankly built all those years ago.  Mainly focused on the holy trinity, the community, and building a team instead of buying individuals.  Liverpool FC is the city, and Anfield is our church, Klopp gets that and it has lead to unbridled success. 

     One thing we need to understand is that these times are fleeting and we must enjoy it now.  Look at Manchester United for the most recent example.  The 90s and early 00s were a great time to be a Manc, and now they’ve been in a dark winter that’s lasted multiple seasons.  Every time I see the squabbles on our fan sites, I see supporters who are so lost in the moment they can’t see how rare this time is.  We are witnessing possibly the greatest Liverpool outfit of all time.  In the face of multi-billionaires funding teams, and corrupt footballing bodies, we are still one of the most feared teams in the world.  In December, we will have a chance to prove that once again, advancing in the Champions League, winning the World Club Cup, and advancing in the League Cup. 

     The most optimistic notion I can leave you all with is that history has a tendency to repeat itself.  When Shankly stepped down in 1974 with 11 years under his belt, he had earned 10 club honors (4 league titles,3 Charity Shields,2 FA Cups and a UEFA Cup) a formidable return.  However, his most lasting contribution was leaving Bob Paisley at the helm.  Bob doubled Shanks return in only 9 years.  Most notably he and Carlos Ancelotti are the only managers to have lead teams to 3 European Cups, but Paisley is the only manger in the history of the game to do it with the same team.  He signed the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, and Graeme Souness.  He turned Liverpool into the most impressive and successful side in the world, but he couldn’t have done it without Shankly.  My hope is that Klopp is paving the road to his successor, and that his successor will take us to new, unimaginable, heights. The question is… who?

What do you think?  Let me know. Have your say below.