Jamie Carragher slammed Liverpool’s back four and Jurgen Klopp’s tactics after the Reds’ humiliating 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa.
Dean Smith’s side inflicted the first defeat of the season on Liverpool, who looked a shadow of the side that romped to the Premier League title last term.
Villa were more than deserving of their five-goal victory and in truth they could have won by a more favourable margin, such was Smith’s side superiority over the champions.
Liverpool were continuously undone by the side’s high line, which allowed Villa to play down the channels and into bundles of space behind the Reds’ defence.
While Carragher believes there’s nothing inherently wrong with the ‘high line’, he believes the defenders rested on the tactic as an excuse to fail to track back if a pass breached their backline.
‘I was almost laughing at the end, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. You don’t associate this with this Liverpool team,’ said Carragher.
‘It’s a shocking result and performance, certainly the worst under Jurgen Klopp, no doubt about that. The only thing for me it was evident early on that Liverpool did not start this game well, even in the first few minutes it looked like there was danger for them.
‘For me, even though Liverpool have good defensive record, I don’t like it and I don’t agree with it, the way they are trying to catch people offside. I don’t like that as a defender, I’ve been in this position myself.
‘This team play a lot higher up the pitch and almost sacrifice one big chance a game with the opposition going through on goal. But they look at the benefits of winning the ball, they play so high and press so high, but when someone beats your press around midfield you’ve got to get ready to go back.’
Though three of Villa’s goals were via a deflection, the nature of Liverpool’s defending will worry supporters.
Joe Gomez looked particuarly shaky, while Adrian failed to make a save with Alisson Becker set for a prolonged period on the sidelines.
Carragher, though, believes it was on Van Dijk as the leader in the defence to abandon the tactic.
‘I just couldn’t believe it was Virgil van Dijk at the back, to say, ‘listen boys, the game’s gone, it’s 5-2, let’s step back and let’s not make this any worse’. But it did get worse. They are fortunate it was not eight or nine,’ said Carragher.
‘Listen, you can’t be too critical, you look at what this team have doen under Jurgen Klopp, it’s just one of those mad, freak results that happens.
‘My problem is when they are in that position they stand and wait and try and play offside. I hate teams playing offside. I hated it when I was a defender myself. I think in that position you’ve got to be ready to run back.
‘Not so much the Liverpool defenders, this comes from the manager, no doubt, and the coaching staff. Listen, what can you say, they’ve been so successful. I just think within those positions when someone kicks the ball they’ve got to be ready to run back. They just hold the line and wait for the linesman’s flag. More often than not they get it, okay, credit to them, but I just don’t feel comfortable as a defender, or even a Liverpool fan, watching it and thinking someone’s going through on goal.
‘You accept it maybe once a game, but it felt like it was going to happen every time the opposition attacked. If that press isn’t there, I just wanted Virgil van Dijk to say, ‘listen lads’ let’s just drop 10 or 15 yards, we can’t make this more more embarrassing’. 5-2 away to Aston Villa is embarrassing, but 7-2 I can’t quite believe it.’
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