Tweet
ArsenalBournemouthBrighton BurnleyChelseaCrystal PalaceEvertonHuddersfield TownLeicester CityLiverpoolManchester CityManchester UnitedNewcastle UnitedSouthamptonStoke CitySwansea CityTottenham HotspurWatfordWBAWest Ham United

Same old failings for Klopp, Liverpool as dodgy defence rears ugly head

Same old failings for Klopp, Liverpool as dodgy defence rears ugly head

ESPN

West Ham United are set to offer Domingos Quina a new long-term deal in an attempt to fend off interest from other Premier League sides, sources close to the club have told ESPN FC.

ESPN FC reported last week that long-term suitors Manchester United had scouts watch Quina in international action for Portugal under-19s against Spain, while Arsenal have also been credited with an interest.

Quina joined West Ham from London rivals Chelsea in 2016 after spending three seasons at Stamford Bridge, with the Hammers beating a host of Europe's top clubs to his signature.

The 17-year-old midfielder made his first-team debut in Europa League qualifying last season and he has gone on to make two appearances in the EFL Cup this term.

Quina's current deal at West Ham has just over 18 months to run and the club are keen to secure him on a new five-year contract to end potential interest.

Peter O'Rourke is ESPN FC's transfer news correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @SportsPeteO.

MANCHESTER -- Juan Mata has told ESPN FC he would like to extend his stay at Manchester United and has not ruled out playing until he is 40 years old.

The Spain international's current contract expires next summer, although United hold an option to keep him at the club until 2019.

Mata says he would like to remain at Old Trafford, and when asked whether he would like to sign a new long-term deal and finish his career at the club, the midfielder insists he is open to all possibilities.

He told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview: "Why not? I'm 29 and hopefully I can play football for some more years. It would be great to play until I'm 40 like Ryan Giggs. But that's still a bit far, still 11 years.

"I'm happy here. The club is massive, the support we have is massive. I've been settled down in the city since year one. Now it's my fourth year in Manchester.

"You never know what can happen in football and in life. But my feeling now is that I'm happy here and I wouldn't have any problem continuing here for more time."

Mata moved to Old Trafford from Chelsea for a then club-record fee of £37.1 million in January 2014. As he closes in on his fourth anniversary at the club, he has made 159 appearances, scoring 37 goals, and won the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League.

He is hopeful he can extend his playing career for another decade. And as for his plans after retirement, Mata revealed he has not ruled out becoming a manager.

"If you had asked me a few years ago whether I wanted to be a manager, I would say no," he said. "I think every footballer, after 20 years playing football, the first thing that comes to your mind is to relax.

"One, two years gap and do other things in life and enjoy other hobbies you might have. Right now, with years of understanding the game better, understand more the tactical approach or communicate with teammates, how to motivate them, I wouldn't say no to becoming a manager but I don't know."

Mata comes from a footballing family -- his father, Juan Sr., was a player -- and he would like to stay in the game once he hangs up his boots.

He has also not ruled out taking on a more central role with Common Goal, the project he supports by donating one percent of his wage to charity.

"I would like to be associated with football somehow," he added. "I like the Common Goal initiative, the vision of football as a tool for social change and the power football has to improve the world.

"It might be in that direction and I think I would really enjoy it. I don't know yet. I have time to think about it."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

As the Champions League teams completed their penultimate group games, it emerged Paris Saint-Germain now hold the record for most goals scored in any group. An impressive feat given they still have one more game to play.

No coverage has been given to the identity of the second most prolific Champions League team this season -- Liverpool.

Barring a mathematical miracle involving Manchester United losing heavily to CSKA Moscow, Liverpool are also the only table toppers who might not get through to the knockout stage.

To score so freely and still not accomplish your mission sees the finger of blame pointing at one section of the team: the defence that's been a weakness for at least five years.

Jurgen Klopp has a better defensive record than Brendan Rodgers, which is damning with faint praise. The numbers do not make great reading. After 119 games as manager his team have conceded 134 goals, too many for any team that wants success. You'd ideally want fewer than one goal conceded per game, not more.

Tuesday's 3-3 draw with Sevilla is the latest example of acute failure at the back. It now seems to happen once a month. In August, another 3-3 with Watford unnerved many right at the season's start.

September saw a 5-0 reverse at Manchester City. In October, Liverpool collapsed at Wembley during a 4-1 defeat against Tottenham and now they've squandered a three goal lead when they had Champions League progress virtually sown up.

After a recent shutting down of inferior teams some were claiming a certain degree of professionalism had been achieved, only for such boasts to be shattered with yet another let-down during one calamitous half.

The shock isn't that it happened, it's that fans keep being taken in by one or two performances which suggested lessons were being learned.

The statistics speak for themselves. Liverpool have conceded 30 equalisers during Klopp's reign, quite a few in the final few minutes of games when you'd want your team to be doubly alert.

They've conceded two or more goals in 36 matches. That's well over a quarter of them, heaping huge pressure upon the forwards to keep coming up with the goods.

Klopp has used plenty of conciliatory words on the issue but in terms of decisive action the numbers speak volumes.

It's sloppiness at key moments which is driving Liverpool fans crazy. The extremely late equaliser at Watford; a goal right on half time against Tottenham that restored a two-goal deficit; late equalisers in both Sevilla games.

Other lapses made less of an impact because they turned out not to be damaging, like at Leicester when a poor Jamie Vardy penalty left Liverpool 3-2 in front, or the nervousness at times away to West Ham despite the home team's general wretchedness.

The basic plan, to keep on attacking, is admirable albeit naive. Weaker opponents may be cowed into staying deeper in case the speed of Liverpool's forwards exploit any gaps but it's all a bit one dimensional.

Teams need balance. Devotion to caution can be equally damaging. Managers like Gerard Houllier let safety get the better of them, especially against opponents that probably should've been put to the sword. Klopp's flexibility, or perceived lack of it, is the key issue here.

It was incredibly adventurous to select three forwards with Philippe Coutinho just behind them against a team with one of the best home records in Europe. It can be claimed to have paid off with a 3-0 scoreline yet Sevilla could easily have scored goals themselves in that first half.

The following 45 minutes was the latest in a lengthening list of events which dishearten the supporters and encourage the opposition to keep going no matter how hopeless their situation may seem.

Liverpool remain in a good place, close to the Premier League's top four and first in their Champions League group. Part of the reason setbacks such as Sevilla cause discontent is that fans can see there is a lot of good in this team. Is it really going to take that much tinkering to make them a genuine force?

Problems that need to be fixed have been there for a while now. Each recurring setback suggests, after two years under the same manager, that he doesn't have any answers.

Liverpool fans don't talk about breathing space in a game any more. Two-goal leads are no longer a cushion. There is instead a clamour for more goals in case two isn't enough. That sort of pressure simply isn't sustainable.

With lots of games coming up in a short space of time, a show of tactical variety would go some way to encourage fans that Klopp will at least address Liverpool's soft underbelly. Otherwise debacles like the second half on Tuesday will keep on happening, undermining confidence in the German's masterplan. That would be a shame, when so much of Liverpool's play is genuinely exciting.

Steven Kelly is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.

ESPN