Jürgen Klopp had an old-school José Mourinho moment against Chelsea on Tuesday night but it failed to give Liverpool what they needed and one man missed his chance.
Ahead of the game against Chelsea, Jürgen Klopp had spoken of needing a reaction, promising changes that were necessary after the drubbing against Manchester City just days prior. But even so, no one had expected the radically-changed starting XI he fielded on Tuesday night.
The level of changes was reminiscent of José Mourinho when he came to Anfield back in the 2013/14 season with a completely ‘reserve’-looking Chelsea side, having one eye on the FA Cup final, and still stunning Brendan Rodgers’ men with a shock victory. But this time around Klopp’s risky strategy failed to pay the rewards with none of his second-string players really catching the eye enough to warrant the kind of result Liverpool was looking for.
Especially, not in the way Chelsea’s stars were able to back in 2014.
The star of Mourinho’s tactical masterpiece back in that game was Tomáš Kalas, who was rarely used by Mourinho in those days but came in to deliver an outstanding performances to thwart Liverpool’s attack.
Kalas facetiously described himself as a ‘training cone’ back in those days as per Bleacher Report Football, saying:
“I am a player for training sessions. If they need a cone, they put me there.”
Of course there is a certain level of jest in his words, but his situation at the time can be comparable to the kind of exile Curtis Jones has faced all season at Liverpool. Rarely used on the pitch, and sometimes even missing from the matchday squad, including against Manchester City at the weekend, this game against Chelsea was a rare start and a rare opportunity for the England U21 international, who had recently done well away from Anfield on international duty.
Liverpool Chelsea Curtis Jones
Curtis Jones struggled to make an impact for Liverpool against Chelsea. (Image: Clive Rose/Getty Images)
But Jones did not deliver. It was a meek Liverpool performance overall, however, Jones did nothing to liven up the proceedings. If anything he looked awkward and made the wrong decisions, dwelling on the ball for far too long, which often resulted in him losing possession.
A feature of his game far too often this season, instead of giving Klopp something to think about, Jones simply confirmed the Liverpool boss had been right to keep him away from the side. Jones lost possession of the ball a total of three times, which was the most by any player on the pitch.
Of course, it’s a little harsh to judge him considering he is far from match fit and definitely hasn’t really been able to get into the pace and rhythm of the game in the short time he has spent on the pitch this season.
But then the question must be posed, if not now, amid Liverpool’s midfield crisis, then when? And the answer is becoming clearer and clearer. Like Kalas did at Chelsea, sooner or later Jones may just have to leave for pastures as well, unless he can engineer a serious turnaround.
At his age, it will do him no good to play once every few months and then simply warm the bench — or even worse, the stands — for the vast majority of his time at the club.
Jones needs to play in order to develop. He needs game time to adjust to the pace of the game and get into a flow of things. None of these things are currently possible at Liverpool, and Chelsea may have just hinted at what the future could hold for the youngster. Certainly, he cannot rely on too many more ‘Mourinho moments’ from Klopp in order to get game time.