LONDON: Jurgen Klopp’s pleasure in the 1-0 win at Stoke which lifted Liverpool within 90 minutes of going to Wembley for the League Cup Final was marred by the latest round of injuries.
Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren went off with hamstring injuries and Kolo Toure ended the game with a similar problem which is likely to force Klopp to think again about his stated intention of not buying any new players before the end of the month.
“This is something we have to think about,” said Klopp after praising the way in which his reorganised team held on to the first-half lead provided by Jordan Ibe, on for Coutinho.
Six of Klopp’s injured players have hamstring problems. In addition to Coutinho and Lovren similar problems have sidelined Daniel Sturridge, Martin Skrtel, Divock Origi, and Jordan Rossiter.
With Mamadou Sakho also out, Klopp added: “Two weeks ago we had three centre-backs. That was a good situation. When Liverpool started the season they had five and now it’s nil. We could say: ‘White flag, sorry, no [strong] team for Stoke next week, we play somebody else against Stoke and somebody else against Exeter.’ That’s not possible.”
At least Liverpool produced the energy and determination which had been lacking in last weekend’s Premier League defeat by West Ham.
Stoke failed to reproduce the form which had brought home wins against Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United. When they did break through, Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet saved well from Glen Johnson and Joselu. Substitute Jon Walters wasted their best chance in stoppage time.
Klopp’s handling of Liverpool’s fitness situation is coming in for increasing criticism.
Raimond Van den Gouw, the former Manchester United goalkeeper turned goalkeeping coach, told BBC Radio: “It has been obvious that Klopp has been Russian roulette with his players. First of all there is always an increase in injuries when a new manager arrives because players want to prove themselves.
“But Liverpool were already then on the edge of an injury crisis which Klopp should have taken into account.”
Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool captain, agreed.
He said: “At first all the chat was about pressing further up the field. It’s hard work to do that for 90 minutes. You can do it in bursts. You can do it for an hour, you can do it for 70 minutes, but to do it for 90 minutes is a big demand on your legs.
“I think they’ve fallen foul of that. It’s not a coincidence, five hamstrings all at one time, I think they have to look at what they’re doing in training.”
Klopp disagreed, pointing out that the busy schedule does not allow for heavy training.
He said: “We don’t train, we only recover but no problem, really. I am responsible for these things, and if you want to make me responsible for our hamstrings then that’s the next step. I know this.”