A Turf Moor defeat that could prove extremely valuable

Saturday 20 August 2016: Burnley2, Liverpool 0

Premier League web site’s official match report (in full)

Sam Vokes and Andre Gray scored their first Premier League goals as Burnley beat Liverpool for the first time in the history of the competition.
The pair struck in the first half to give the Clarets their first Premier League win over their opponents at the fifth attempt.
Gray created Vokes’ early opener – robbing Nathaniel Clyne and feeding the Wales international, who turned and fired home from the edge of the area.
Gray then found the net himself with a low left-foot shot from the edge of the area, after he had collected a pass from record signing Steven Defour on his debut.
Liverpool dominated possession and had numerous chances but could not find the net.
Roberto Firmino came closest early in the second half but Clarets goalkeeper Tom Heaton superbly tipped his goalbound effort past the post.
Clyne and Georginio Wijnaldum had late efforts but Burnley held out to record their first win of the

Ever since that one abysmal Turf Moor performance in this season’s second game, Liverpool has played nine more Premier League games, winning seven and drawing two. The Burnley away defeat remains our one and only loss of the current season thus far, and to put things into perspective the four points dropped in those two draws have been two points against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane and then another two points against Manchester United at Anfield. Those teams are not exactly teams like Hull City, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City. You know what I mean.

What I have discovered and re-discovered time and again (every single time I possibly could make this discovery again) after that Turf Moor defeat – to the point of paying very close attention every time Jürgen Klopp attends a pre-match interview and a post-match press conference at Anfield or in some other English or Welsh town (Swansea) – is the German manager’s very clear messages both to British and German sports journalists, Liverpool fans and players listening to what he says (yes, I do feel absolutely convinced Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp demands that all first team squad players watch TV and listen closely to whatever he has to say to journalists before and after every single competitive game that will be played or has just been played, as he sets a few examples each and every time he has a TV directed at his face).

Let me quote Klopp’s Polish winger / forward Jakub Błaszczykowski now: Jürgen Klopp isn’t just a great coach; he’s a great psychologist, a great man. He makes decisions based on what he sees, not on what other people are telling him. That’s extremely important because we could sense that. He knows how to deal with different characters and different egos.’

The first Liverpool player to really learn that simple lesson is Mamadou Sakho. But Sakho doesn’t seem able to take any lesson on his own character and ego. It may be unfortunate for Sakho, but he only has himself to thank for being an amateur fool, an arrogant twat, and not a model professional with any useful form of work ethic or intellect.

As I myself and other fans watched that Burnley defeat at Turf Moor, we all thought Liverpool would never learn from experiences of last season, as we kept on playing well and beating big Premier League clubs while at the same time playing badly and losing to less prestigious and far worse teams in the same Premier League. 

Clyne’s sloppy pass and poor defending led to Sam Vokes’s first goal. Seriously bad defensive effort also made it very easy for Andre Gray to score the second. 

Ragnar Klavan simply made no real effort to defend and Simon Mignolet had absolutely no chance to saving Gray’s free shot from close range because of Ragnar Klavan believing he was on vacation in Estonia and nowhere near Burnley town as the easy cross arrived inside the Turf Moor box.

Liverpool’s reaction to being two goals behind was a lot of empty passes, very slow running, and no offensive penetration. There just were no conviction to be observed from the Liverpool players in there yellowish-green third shirt. No passion, no will-power. No really good shots taken to get a goal back. All in all 90 minutes of quite typical Liverpool misery.

Liverpool created few goal opportunities, but Burnley defeated us 2-0. Very deservedly so.

Jürgen Klopp’s post match after the Burnley defeat was more or less all about Liverpool having more than 80 per cent ball possession and a Burnley team with two effective strikers and a lot of unnamed Liverpool players’ big mistakes both in terms of defending and attacking. Klopp was obviously very disappointed, and said but of course, usually in a game like this, we win, if we don’t make the mistakes in the wrong moment, but we did. And now we have to accept the result and have to carry on.’

One month later Liverpool had managed to get a 1-1 draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, a 4-1 win against Leicester at Anfield, a 2-1 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and a 5-1 win against Hull at Anfield. We would go on beating Swansea 2-1 at Liberty Stadium, and get a 0-0 draw against a big bus parking lot under José Mourinho’s Manchester United side at Anfield. We then defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at Anfield, and beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

A detour to experiences from the past: some words uttered by John Barnes

‘Losing to Wimbledon in the 1988 F.A. Cup final was a huge shock. I learnt at Liverpool and Watford that if you take it off the price, anything can happen, and nothing surprises you in football. So Liverpool were a very humble side, and as much as we were a great side we understood that – look, at Barcelona now, when Barcelona lose they know that they deserve to lose, because they don’t perform. So, I tell you, the biggest lesson I learnt at Liverpool is the way to treat triumph and disaster. When I won my first league championship for Liverpool I expected this huge celebration because we won the league. Then the coach came in – a very wise old guy (Ronnie Moran) – and he just had the medals in a plastic bag. And all he said was Preseason training July the 7th. What that does, it keeps you hungry for success, does that mean you retire? Does that mean you just wallow in your glory? No, you don’t, you have to be hungry for more success, and that keeps you hungry.

Similarly, when we lost – not just the cup final but when we lost to Arsenal the next year in the league after 92 minutes – same thing: losers’ medals in a plastic bag, Preseason July the 7th. We didn’t get carried away with it, because you can’t wallow in your self pity when you lose either. So therefore, when we won we enjoyed it but we forgot about it straight away, because if you ask a young player, a young person, what’s your ambition, and he says my ambition is to win the world cup, and he wins the world cup at seventeen, does he then give up because he’s won the world cup? It has to be the repetition of success. And how do you keep that hunger and that desire? By not paying too much importance to it. And on the conversely, when you lose you don’t pay too much importance on that either.’

Jürgen Klopp’s recent press conferences

In the pre-match press conference before the Crystal Palace game at Selhurst Park, a crucial part of the interview talk occurred to me as being this one: ‘This is, of course, a good team. They are a very experienced team, very experienced in defence. High quality defence. Made good signings in the summer, obviously. My opinion is, they can go for Europe, that’s a really good team. It’s a really tough and strong opponent, but that’s like nearly all the other Premier League teams, so that’s no surprise.’

Now, just imagine what the Liverpool players listening to this pre-match press conference must as a matter of simple common sense actually heard their boss telling them. Something in the line of ‘if you guys underestimate the opponent this time around, I’m gonna get extremely angry at all of you straight away, none of you will get away with any silly excuses, and my honest wrath will come to haunt you in training!’

We were 3-2 up at half time, having taken the lead on three occasions. Emre Can scored our first goal after 16 minutes, then two minutes later Dejan Lovren’s horrible defensive error allowed the Scottish Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur to head the ball home, no real effort required. Three minutes later Dejan Lovren made up for his embarrassing mistake by scoring Liverpool’s second goal on a header. After 33 minutes, McArthur scored another goal. Yet again a header. No wonder, really, we all knew Crystal Palace is a very good team in terms of offensive dead balls, and to be good at that certainly makes any good header of a ball coming into the box very handy. Just before half time Joël Matip scored his first ever Liverpool goal. An extremely powerful header from a Philippe Coutinho corner.

In the second half Christian Benteke had three chances for another equaliser after the break and Roberto Firmino made the match safe on 71 minutes when he dleicately chipped skipper Jordan Henderson’s brilliant through-ball over Crystal Palace keeper Steve Mandanda, and the final score line read Crystal Palace 2, Liverpool 4

In the post-match press conference Jürgen Klopp, amongst other things, said ‘We scored nice goals, really good goals, created unbelievable chances, so it was a good moment for our game, we were really … (pauses) … we could have scored more goals, I think everybody agrees in this. Then we opened the game again with ourselves again, so it was like … there’s not a game without excitement when Liverpool is part of the game. The first goal, especially, was a present. And the second goal wasn’t good defended. In the end, nice header, so it opened the game and the atmosphere was really intence. 2-0 would have been better for half time, but now everything is good.’

Jürgen Klopp concluded: After conceding these goals, I’m happy with the reaction. Not with the situations, not with the start of the game, that’s what we have to work on, but I’m happy with the reaction. We will work on it ...’

The pre-match press conference before the Watford game at Anfield Sunday 6 November 2016 was highly interesting for a host of different reasons, but I will for this article concentrate on what our manager said about the Watford game and what he deemed to be important for Liverpool fans and players to hear him say in his own –  as it always is – fascinating ways.

We are in a good moment, that’s right, or we have been in a good moment, now we have to show that we are still in a good moment. So, eh … yeah, phuh … the crowd was fantastic in the last home game – even at Crystal Palace all the way the supporters were really fantastic, even in a game when it was a little bit difficult. So it’s still quite positive in and around LFC, and we have to use this and it’s quarter past two Sunday afternoon, and it’s the best moment because we have no other moment to play our football and to celebrate the LFC mood, if you want. And that’s what we have to show, because it’s a difficult game. For sure. You always think after a game you have this moment when you won it, and there’s a moment when you think Oh, it’s really good and you’re happy with this and that, and you start preparing the next game and it’s like Whouh! Again difficult, so … and it’s not only Deeney and Ighalo, it’s a really strong side with a very experienced manager, and we need all we have to win this game.’

‘The Crystal Palace and Watford games are over, the International break has come and gone and a lot of things have happened since then, and Premier League big football – and not only Premier League, but especially Premier League – is really being ready for the next opponent with its different style of play, it’s different things to do. Things can happen. Early goal scored, early goal conceding, we need to be ready for the solution, work on solutions before we have the problems, that’s what we try to do. So it’s … yeah, we need to stay really angry, all that stuff, and we need to do everything right things in the right moment, that’s how it is.’

Written by @MagneLeoKarlson

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