Klopp faces quandary over Fabinho

Brazilian’s performance in Champions League victory suggests his inclusion in squad


Afp October 26, 2018
PHOTO: AFP

LIVERPOOL/ LONDON: Fabinho's impressive display in Liverpool's midweek Champions League success has left his manager Jurgen Klopp with a difficult decision to make ahead of the team's return to domestic action at home to Cardiff on Saturday.

But more importantly, for Liverpool fans hoping to see an end to their club's 29-year wait to be crowned champions of England again is that the Brazilian's emergence offers yet more hope that Klopp is assembling a squad capable of challenging for the Premier League trophy, with the Reds currently level on points with leaders Manchester City.

The 25-year-old, signed from Monaco for £39.9 million in pre-season, has made a slow and stuttering start to his life in English football.

Klopp happy to forget Salah slump after win

His 21-minute substitute appearance in last weekend's victory at Huddersfield is still the only league football he has to his name this season, with Klopp appearing to have done a masterful job of integrating him carefully into his line-up.

But Fabinho's 90-minute performance in the 4-0 victory over Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday suggested he is capable of playing a significant role in a versatile midfield corps that compares favourably with any in England's top flight.

"He was very good, very good," said Klopp of Fabinho who celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday.

"The present for his birthday was not that he was in the line-up, it was that we played his favourite system with a double-six! He played really well and it was good to see. He was very aggressive and everything was there. For his first game for a while, his second start from the beginning, it was good, really good.

"It is quite impressive what people saw. It always helps a player if you play a good game — it helped us and helped him. That was the start, so let's carry on," the German boss added.

Everton latest threat to United

Another meek performance in losing for the fifth time this season in midweek to Juventus has put Jose Mourinho's position as Manchester United manager back in peril ahead of in-form Everton's visit to Old Trafford on Sunday.

On a run of just one win in seven games in all competitions, United already look out of the title race, nine points adrift of Manchester City and Liverpool, but are also in danger of missing out on the top four with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham also just two points off the top.

There is the chance for United to make up some ground as Tottenham host City on Monday, but Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal will be confident of maintaining their strong starts to the season against struggling Cardiff, Burnley and Crystal Palace respectively.

In Mourinho's prime he once went 151 games across four different clubs without losing a home league match between 2002 and 2011.

That seems a long time ago now with the Portuguese coach running out of excuses for failing to turn around United's faltering fortunes.

After being outclassed by the Italian champions, Mourinho's men have now won just two of their seven games at Old Trafford and only edged past Leicester and Newcastle by the odd goal in their two victories.

Silva changed the game with his three substitutes Ademola Lookman, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun combining for the two late goals to beat Crystal Palace last weekend.

Mourinho, by contrast, didn't make a single change to try and disrupt Juventus' flow in midweek.

Right now it is Everton's Portuguese coach that looks the more special.

 

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