Liverpool went down to another dismal Anfield defeat as Fulham earned a thoroughly deserved victory on Merseyside.
A fine strike from Mario Lemina shortly before half-time proved to be enough to give Scott Parker’s side the win, with the hosts again displaying an alarming lack of quality in front of the goal.
Jurgen Klopp had made seven changes to the side that lost at home to Chelsea on Thursday, but those changes had no effect on his side’s efforts.
Diogo Jota made available a smart save from Alphonse Areola in the second half, while substitute Sadio Mane hit the post with a looping header.
Can you so desire Plan A that you never even think of a Plan B?
That is how it has seemed for Liverpool of late, as Klopp sends out his patched up – and today, heavily rotated – side to try and play in the same manner as last season’s champions.
Liverpool actually isn’t that team anymore, and Klopp’s inability to change his game plan – sticking to strategies like the high defensive line and full-backs leaving center-backs isolated – is completely destroying his side.
In the mist of the issues at Liverpool, plenty of managers would focus on making their teams tough to beat first and foremost, and protecting their clean sheets, but the German isn’t doing that. Seven changes from the Chelsea defeat is a lot, but actually, it didn’t really feel like Klopp was making changes from one game, more a series of them.
The current, disheartening, home setbacks which have forced the Reds to issues point all seemed to unfold in broadly the same manner, and by making the change the manager was able to bring in players who weren’t burdened by those failures.
But, well, those substitutes simply aren’t the best.
The Liverpool squad is stretched to the limit right now, and there are simply players who are currently available – Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, maybe Thiago – that Klopp can’t do without. All of a sudden what had looked to be an insurmountable task is getting more and more likely.
If we’re to presume that Sheffield United and West Brom have gone – because, well they’ve gone – then the fight to avoid the third and final relegation spot is on, with just one point separating Fulham, Brighton and Newcastle.
Lemina’s fine strike before the break was just a reward for the visitors’ attempt, as they approached the game in a manner that implied they’d read the script of Liverpool’s recent home matches.
Jamie Carragher might have written them off early on in the season, but the changes made since then have been stark. The banner certainly was an alternative take on the usual calls for a sacking/celebration, but after another bleak performance how much longer before the text changes?
Klopp will definitely see out this season, but instantly his long-term prospects in the job looks dangerous.