Last season was the first in over a decade in which Liverpool could field competent right and left backs simultaneously. For a significant part of the season, the club had impressive operators in both of these positions. Robertson and Trent, in particular, could link up with the attack at will, while also managing to remain defensively sound.
Going in to the next campaign, it would be easy for over-confidence to set in. However, if the club is to build on it’s momentum, then there must be strong players in each position. If a serious title challenge is to be mounted, it is time to get ruthless and take a proper look at the options at Klopp’s disposal.
Strong on the right
Fabinho’s signing has added an extra option at right back. The Brazilian can slot in there if needs be, and adds to Clyne Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold as extra cover. On the surface there is strength there. However both Gomez and Clyne have well documented fitness issues and Trent is not yet twenty. It would be unfair to heap so much pressure on the local youngster, despite his obvious talent. With four players there, though, Liverpool should have enough bodies for a full campaign.
Offensively, Clyne and Gomez are not good enough, and this will need to be addressed at some point down the line. Gomez looks a more natural centre-half and may well switch over in the near future. Clyne, on other hand, may only get the next few weeks to prove his fitness. He looked short last season after his injury set back and the concern will be whether the lay off has taken too much from his game.
Nothing on the left
Andy Robertson was a revelation last season. His slow burn in to the first team was a genuine highlight of the campaign. His signing for £8 million from Hull City must go down as one of Klopp’s best transactions. His pace, direct runs and general menace on the flank is a fantastic asset for the club. He’s also a strong and brave defender. With Robertson at left back the first eleven looks more balanced and composed.
Beyond the Scot, though, they are struggling. Moreno simply cannot be considered a serious option. The fact he is still at the club collecting a wage is bad enough. If worst case scenario occurred and Robertson was out for whatever reason, fielding the error prone Spaniard would be a massive concern. Gomez can play there, and has done well enough whenever he’s been called on. However, he feels like a square peg in a round hole there. If Milner has to play there then the something is likely to gave gone seriously awry. A better option as cover must surely be sought.
It was the elephant in the room for years under five different managers for eight years. The full backs were useless and costing the club games. People made bizarre excuses for Johnson’s weekly blunders, while a procession of terrible left backs came and went. How many games were lost on that defensive vulnerability? It’s an area Klopp has had to spend considerable time and money to rebuild since his appointment.
At long last, the club is in a better place in that area. Interestingly, Lovren looked more assured and confident once Robertson was installed as a regular starter. This highlights the importance of the area for any side with serious ambition. If there is weakness in either full back area then it upsets an entire back four, and will be exploited.
This is surely why Moreno must now be jettisoned and a better option for cover brought in. Robertson will need to be rested at times so it is vital the club does the sensible thing with the transfer window open. It would be useful to sign a versatile player who could also operate as a centre-half, giving us more depth. Whatever Klopp chooses to do, he must be ruthless and build on his already strong foundations.