After Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw by Fulham in their Premier League opener, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher gives his thoughts on where Jurgen Klopp’s side stand and the rest of the first weekend of the season.
Saturday’s draw at Fulham wasn’t the Liverpool we know. Nor the Liverpool that we’ve seen over the last two years. It was one of the poorest performances we’ve seen from a Jurgen Klopp team. Even the Liverpool manager came out and said that.
The way Fulham set up: they did to Liverpool what Liverpool want to do to other teams. They were energetic and more ready for a game of football. It’s not too often you see Liverpool not ready for a game of football.
But going to a newly-promoted team for the first game of the season, with all the energy there for their supporters, is sometimes too difficult to stop. You expect a team of Liverpool’s quality to be able to do that but it just wasn’t to be.
We can’t be too critical: it’s the first game of the season. This team have produced so much and you can see that the quality is there. It’s not the end of the world, there’s still 37 games to go.
Most people would say Liverpool’s midfield could now be strengthened, not in terms of numbers but maybe in terms of quality and offering something different to what they have in midfield. It’s not having a go at the midfield players that they currently have, it’s just the age profile of some of the midfielders there, who are getting into their 30s.
Liverpool’s first-choice midfield – and the one that played at Fulham – is getting towards the 30 age-mark. You think a younger and more energetic player at some stage is needed, they’ve got those players there in reserve but they’re all injured.
I would only want Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool to do that if they get the midfielder they want. Liverpool’s success in the transfer market has been down to not panicking, it’s not what they’ve done in the past, it’s not what they’re doing now and it can’t be what they do in the future. If there’s no midfielder they want out there, don’t get him. But if they feel there’s one who has that quality and is available, I would like them to do it of course. But don’t panic.
That’s the way Liverpool assess things in the transfer market. If you think about the deal with Virgil van Dijk, that deal fell through in the summer and they waited until January. They didn’t get another centre-back – and they did need one – but they waited for the guy that they wanted. That proved very successful and that’s what they’ll do in midfield.
Man Utd can’t be any worse than last season
No matter how poor Manchester United are at the moment, you would still expect them to beat Brighton at home.
It just shows what a manager who has been in the job for two or three years and had that time to implement what he’s about with his team can do – and you can see that with Graham Potter and Brighton.
Even though they lost big players in the summer, the rest of the team was set up and they know what to do. Manchester United are not at that stage right now with a new manager.
I still think Manchester United will improve on last season. You can’t see it getting any worse with their points that they got and the goals they conceded. The window’s not closed, they’ve still got a couple of weeks to get some players in.
There’s a criticism of the players they’re trying to bring in, but I’ve been in that position myself at Liverpool when you’re trying to chase the top teams and at times you have to think: “Should I take a chance on this player?”. Whereas a Liverpool or a Manchester City don’t have to take those chances. That’s the benefit of being successful.
You can’t judge the squad until the window’s closed and you’ll see where they go from there. Ten Hag has got a great pedigree in what he did with Ajax and how good they were in the Champions League. He built two teams there – so you have to keep the faith with the manager.
Chelsea and Spurs can challenge top two
A lot of people may be down on Chelsea this season, but I think a couple of players could still come into Stamford Bridge before the window closes. They could be in a completely different position come the end of August.
Spurs could compete with Conte, especially looking at the results they got away at Liverpool and Manchester City last season. The Italian is a coach who can quite rightly go up against Klopp and Guardiola and not feel in any way inferior due to the success he’s had abroad and here in the Premier League as well.
Spurs look a lot better than they did last season and they’ll join Chelsea in trying to close in on the top two.