Problems at the back were undoubtably one of the main reasons we couldn't take that final step last season, lots of problems, problems defending set pieces, problems with individual errors, problems with positioning, we were defending to deep, problems with communication, problems with players form, problems with goalkeeper, this list seems almost endless.
this season with a change in personnel, Lovren, Manquillo and Moreno all added to the squad it was felt that we had addressed most of these problems, but have we? Things don't appear to have changed much with only one clean sheet in the first seven games, seven games and eleven goals conceded and any team would be struggling to accumulate points.
Problems defending set pieces seem to have been a problem for Liverpool for years and it appears not to have changed this season, we appear to be unable to mark players with only the slightest movement needed to to lose our players, we often seem to concerned with grabbing players and holding them rather than getting to the ball. Players often don't appear even to look at the ball as they are fully concentrated on physically holding an attacker.
Individual errors will always be present, that's the nature if the game, the better the player, the less errors they make is to simple an analysis, we need to consider age, experience, pressure, communication, weather conditions, game situation, nerves and so on. I think in the case of Liverpool we are playing attacking exciting football that by it's very nature leaves us short of cover and vulnerable defensively, putting a lot of pressure on defenders making mistakes more likely, then creating a viscous circle of nervous players, who are under more pressure because of previous mistakes and pressure from the crowd who therefor make more mistakes creating more pressure and so on.
Problems with positioning have in my opinion been due to the style of the players we had, we were asking players to defend with a high line who were not natural at this preferring to defend deeper, dropping back. Bringing in Lovren who is a front foot defender should help with this and keep that defence close to its midfield. It appears to have had the opposite effect, with Lovren taking to many risks trying to get on the front foot
it's widely thought that Liverpool suffer at the back with lack of communication and leadership with all the four or five regular defenders and goalkeeper being quiet, somebody needs to take control and organise, the goalkeeper should be organising and controlling his defenders and when a bollocking is needed somebody needs to dish one out. Everybody in the ground could hear Carragher but since he has retired nobody has taken over his role. Again we are looking at new signing Lovren to at least partially solve this problem he is known for his leadership and we are hoping he can bring this to Liverpool and solve this issue. I don't know how the other two new signings are in his regard but they are both Spanish so there will be, at least initially, a language issue,the players need to learn and adapt quickly. Having watched a few games now it appears that Mignolet is also attempting to take responsibility for leadership But in my opinion both Lovren and Mignolet appear to have mistaken arm waving for leadership and random shouting for organisation, we currently seem to be worse than last season in my opinion.
The form of players last year was a major problem with Johnson and Cissokho in particular suffering from loss of form, there is nothing that can be done apart from replace the players and for them to work hard on the training field, last season Flanagan was brought in and did very well but we had a shortage of other players available, Moreno and Manquillo have joined alleviating the problem at least in the full back positions, just hope the form of our players goes the other way this season with everybody finding top form.
Mignolet is undoubtably a good shot stopper, one of the best around but is perceived to have problems in that, as mentioned above, he is not a great communicator, he doesn't command is area, often appearing rooted to his line and if we are to play a high defensive line we need more of a sweeper keeper. It's obvious that he has been working on some of the elements mentioned and is constantly trying to improve his distribution but is it enough, I'm not sure. We are rumoured to be bringing in Valdes, more of a Rodgers style of keeper, if true, this may solve some if the issues with the keeper as well as adding competition in the position that has been lacking.
We do appear to be addressing the issues mainly by bringing in new personnel. It is obvious that the manager and coaching staff are aware of the problems and working towards solutions, can they do it? Will the new players make a differance? I hope so, it will definitely take time for changes to take effect, new players need to settle in and find their place, I think with time we will see improvement, I certainly hope so.