Jurgen Klopp turned an old cliché on its head to describe Liverpool’s defending. It is, according to the Kop manager, not like riding a bike.
Some may have said the defending for Leeds’ three goals was more car crash than pedaling along.
But Klopp’s exercise to defend his back line wasn’t just a line peddled, it is the balance needed considering the strange pre-season they have just had.
Added to the fact that their defenders were scattered all over Europe playing internationals just a few days before the Premier League’s start.
He can also take solace in the fact the last time the Reds conceded three goals at home in successive league games was 1982 when both Nottingham Forest and Luton came to Anfield.
They didn’t do badly that season as they made a successful defence of their league title on their way to three-in-a-row.
This time the three goals in a row came over two campaigns with Chelsea’s treble before the Reds lifted the Premier League trophy back in July.
Now it was newly-promoted Leeds and the brazen football of Marcelo Bielsa’s side who capitalised on a rare poor show from Liverpool’s defence.
It led to Jack Harrison’s stunning strike, Patrick Bamford capitalising on a Virgil van Dijk error and then a fine finish Mateusz Klich after some sloppy midfield covering.
“I didn’t see us struggling defensively but the way they play you cannot defend 100 per cent of the time,” said Klopp.
“But for the first goal both full-backs were deeper than the centre-halves and that should never happen in football.
“The second goal was a misunderstanding between Virgil and Alisson and I don’t think we will see these situations very often.
“The third one we changed Henderson not long before and our formation was moving and we didn’t close one gap and again to use a situation like that you need the game plan and bravery of Leeds.
“It is not an excuse, it is just an explanation.
“The back line played for England, Holland and Scotland four days ago – all top teams but different ways of defending – and if things are not settled early in pre-season defending is not riding a bike – so there is space for improvement.”
Improvement needed maybe but last season the defence was also questioned early on when a switch to a high line took time to acclimatise to and left some cracks until they were filled in. Again, they didn’t do too badly last season. No need to panic just yet.
At the other end, Liverpool picked up from where they left off thanks to the brilliance of Mo Salah and a powerful header from Van Dijk.
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Two may have come from the penalty spot from Salah, but the goal sandwiched between those that flew into the top corner was breathtaking. Not since John Aldridge in 1988 has a Liverpool player scored a hat-trick on the opening day.
No Liverpool player had ever scored in four successive opening games until Saturday. The list of records to his name is almost as long as the Nile river which runs through his homeland in Egypt.
But, as Klopp says, Salah is more than the stats. Without his pressing, harrying and intensity then Liverpool would not have got their first title defence in 30 years off to a winning start.
“The numbers tell the story a little bit,” added Klopp.
“He put three more goals on his scoring list, but the performance all-round was absolutely exceptional in a game like this.”