Alberto Moreno. Dejan Lovren. Simon Mignolet. Just a few names in the current Liverpool squad that manager Jürgen Klopp has given numerous reprieves to.
The German is known for building a strong rapport with his players, both on and off the pitch through his famous hugs, endearing team talks and all-round ‘nice guy’ persona.
This lends itself to showing perhaps more faith in his players than your average football manager, but does this sometimes come back to bite him?
The most recent (and perhaps most talked about) example of this would be with the ever-divisive Alberto Moreno.
The young Spanish full-back has long split Liverpool fans over his abilities on the field, and he’s seemingly done the same to his manager.
After spending the vast majority of last season on the bench, some decent pre-season performances and some hard work on the training pitch seemed to make Klopp see Moreno in a new light. Since then, he’s been Liverpool’s regular left back option, ahead of summer signing Andy Robertson.
Like a phoenix from the flames, it seemed as though Moreno had turned a corner for the better – but a horrible second half performance in Seville in the Reds’ 3-3 Champions League draw quickly reminded everyone of the ‘old Moreno’, and saw fans questioning their manager as to why he has kept the faith with him.
The same can be said for Dejan Lovren, another member of the squad who fails to win universal praise from the Kopites.
He’s very hot and cold is Dejan. A player who can sometimes look like the composed defender Brendan Rodgers hoped he’d purchased from Southampton, yet in the next breath not look fit to play in a pub team.
He too has been publically back by Klopp, and continues to be part of his first choice centre back pairing alongside Jöel Matip, and he too has reminded Liverpool fans this season as to how costly his inconsistencies can be.
Remember the 4-1 hammering by Spurs at Wembley when Lovren was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after just half-an-hour? I don’t think I need to say any more.
Mignolet too continues to be Klopp’s number one choice between the sticks, despite some very shaky moments. Goodness knows how he wasn’t sent off for a rash challenge on Diouf against Stoke on Wednesday night, by the way.
My point being with these three, glaring examples, is that while loyalty is a trait that’s hard to come by in modern football, it does perhaps backfire on Jürgen more than he’d hope it would.
There are times when his unmoving faith in players that consistently keep making mistakes that cost Liverpool vital points or change the game at pivotal points draws criticism from all corners, and rightfully so.
Klopp has been in charge at Anfield for a little more than two years now, and these problems should have made themselves very apparent to him by now. If all of us as fans can see it, he certainly can, or should be able to, from the dugout.
He’s a man that likes to try to improve players, to improve their game rather than dip straight into the transfer window for a quick fix. But he must see by now, that there are some players that are simply beyond his help.
Yet he still keeps the faith – and in doing so, almost invites the criticism when things go wrong for him.
Now, it’s not to say that I think Klopp should be publically lambasting his squad every time something goes belly-up. That’s no way to keep a squad ticking over.
But there has to become a point of no return for some players who consistently do not repay the faith paid in them by their manager.
In a day job, if you were constantly making crucial errors, there’s only so long you’d go without being called into your bosses office or even worse – being handed your P45.
I’m all for giving players a little more time than is the norm in modern football, but I think there must be a limit on this.