Jurgen Klopp leaves Swansea having picked two fights and lost them both

Graham Thomas
The Independent

Jurgen Klopp left South Wales having picked two fights and lost both as well as his team’s unbeaten 18-match record.

The Liverpool manager was frustrated by his team’s inability to prevent the Premier League’s bottom club from turning this game into a scrap which Swansea pinched with a counter-puncher’s hit and run method masterclass.

Klopp even came off wounded from an angry verbal exchange with a Swansea supporter, a dust-up he knew he was never going to win and admitted he would have done better to avoid.

The row concluded a miserable night for the German whose team missed a glut of opportunities late on after Swansea defender Alfie Mawson scored what proved to be the only goal of an intense, compelling game.

The result leaves Liverpool still three points shy of Liverpool in third place and only two points above fifth-placed Tottenham.

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But it could prove a decisive turning point for Swansea and their recently appointed manager Carlos Carvalhal. They remain bottom of the table, but will fancy their chances of completing another successful survival attempt having narrowed the gap between themselves and the safety mark to just three points.

Klopp said: “I am more frustrated about the performance than the result. We were just not good enough, especially in the first half. We didn’t play how we wanted to play. We didn’t keep the right positions we needed to, to cause them problems and didn’t stretch them.

“We gave them the opportunity to score and then we did exactly what Swansea wanted. They didn’t need to play, they needed to fight and we did exactly what they wanted and their confidence grew.”

Sadio Mane could not find a breakthrough (Getty Images)
Sadio Mane could not find a breakthrough (Getty Images)

Liverpool missed opportunities for Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in either half and paid the price when Swansea clung on to a lead provided when Mawson swept the ball in at a corner in the 41st minute.

Liverpool’s £75m record signing Virgil van Dijk was at fault for the goal as his misplaced header struck Fernandez before Mawson reacted sharply to shoot home from eight yards.

The frustrations provoked Klopp into his verbal dispute with a Swansea fan around the hour mark and he admitted: “He was shouting t me all the time but I reacted.

“I am a human being not just a professional manager. I am sure I am not the first manager who has problem. He probably has a season ticket.”

But that was not the battle that really concerned Klopp. It was the manner of his side’s inaccurate, lethargic display against a team they had beaten 5-0 on Boxing Day.

Klopp added: “Swansea knew that to win today they needed our help and unfortunately we gave it to them. They did the right things to deserve to win a game like this tonight and we didn’t deserve it. We could have equalised at the end, but didn’t have that luck.”

Alfie Mawson scored the game’s only goal (Getty)
Alfie Mawson scored the game’s only goal (Getty)

For new Swans manager Carvalhal, this was a tactical masterpiece as he used a five-man defence to stifle Liverpool and then hit them on the break.

The Portuguese likes to use fishing analogies to describe players as either lobsters or sardines, but this time he was borrowing Formula One metaphors as he left Liverpool in the slow lane.

Carvalhal said: “I talked with my players and said this (Liverpool) is a really strong team. They are like a Formula One car. But at 4pm in London it will be difficult to speed, they would be a car like any other.

“We needed to make sure there was traffic, we could not let them have open roads to drive in. We did some mistakes in the game at Liverpool. What we did in the first half was really good, we blocked the space between the attackers, we blocked their dynamic.

“They are a really strong team, but nothing happened in the first half. In the second half we expected pressure, lots of speed. Instinctively we went defensive and did really amazing. In the last five minutes we were lucky, but luck is part of the game and with how hard we worked, we deserved some luck.”

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