Points Tally: 5 / 12 points (Europa League Runners-Up)
The month was bookended with defeats of very different importance. Swansea was just another fixture for Jurgen Klopp to rest his stars ahead of an important European tie, and his decision in Wales was vindicated as his side romped to a 3-0 win over Villarreal in the Europa League semifinals. However, May ended with a regretful and disappointing defeat in Basel against another La Liga side, Sevilla – perennial Europa League specialists, winning the competition for the last three years on the bounce.
the best it got for the reds, before sevilla motm mariano (l) & referee eriksson (c) intervened
Watford at home and West Bromwich Albion away were yet more opportunities for Klopp to field his young talents and reserve personnel, collecting four points from a possible six. These games sandwiched the last Anfield game this season against fallen champions Chelsea, where the Reds should’ve won with their first choice XI out. Underwhelming throughout and only bailed out by Asmir Begovic’s blunder right at the end, it turned out to be a sign of things to come for Klopp’s first XI a week later.
Player of the Month: Emre Can (average rating: 7)
As a key member of the side, the German international, like the rest of his first choice team-mates, only played the three key games in May. There were huge doubts whether Can would even feature again this season after his injury against Dortmund, but he did well to come back early to even start in a vital semifinal second leg against Villarreal, let alone shine in it.
Can produced a colossal, man-of-the-match performance against Villarreal – one that ranks among the top 3 individual displays of the season. He followed that up with a decent outing against Chelsea at Anfield. However, in the game that mattered in Basel, Can could not lift his team once again, and was arguably at fault for Sevilla’s second goal after giving the ball away in midfield.
just could not conjure up one final monumental display
Yet in a second half when every single member of the team – bar Kolo Toure – lost their bearings and composure, Can could not be solely blamed for that night.
Flop of the Month: Alberto Moreno (6.25)
The Spanish left-back actually had a decent May, putting in a strong display against Villarreal in the second leg, before producing another two decent performances for the second-string against Watford and with the first XI against Chelsea. He was even instrumental in Daniel Sturridge’s opener in Basel, bursting forward and catching the attention of Sevilla right-back Mariano Ferreiro just enough for the Englishman to find space to curl in a wonderful goal.
However, all was lost for Moreno at the very, very start of the second half. His poor headed clearance seconds in then led to a soft attempt at a tackle seconds later, which led to Mariano getting free in the box and squaring for Kevin Gameiro’s equaliser just 17 seconds into the second half. Moreno was nowhere to be seen during a Sevilla long throw that saw Gameiro force Simon Mignolet into a superb stop. For the killer third, the Spaniard went awol as Sevilla skipper Coke found the freedom of Basel to fire home his second from close range.
And like Can, the whole team, minus Kolo, was poor. But Moreno’s defensive ineptness was the catalyst for the Reds’ second half capitulation, and it remains to be seen if Klopp will give him one final chance next season.
In a month where league form didn’t matter anymore, the only highlight was the magnificent 3-0 win over Villarreal at Anfield which sealed the Reds’ Europa League Final berth. Everything went to script as the Reds battled back from a goal down of the first leg, with Sturridge and Roberto Firmino on song for the Reds. Both had a hand in all three goals, with the latter dazzling with his sublime skill throughout.
anfield proved to be the decisive factor in this batch’s run to the final
Aside from that, one minor highlight was Christian Benteke scoring the last goal of the season at Anfield, pouncing on a Begovic error to equalise against Chelsea and avoid the Reds having to do their lap of honour on the back of a defeat to one of their fiercest rivals of recent times. Jordon Ibe’s solo goal at West Brom was pretty decent as well. So too was Danny Ings’ return ahead of schedule in that final game.
Areas of Improvement:
The lack of winning mentality is one that has to be improved upon, not just for this month, but for next season. Two semi final defeats last year has been followed by two final failures this year. The current batch of Reds are just finding it difficult to shine on the big occasion.
Just considering the points tally, Liverpool’s league form has been woeful this month. And the lack of league success in May was to prime the Reds for European glory. That didn’t happen, in spectacular fashion, and the Reds end the season in pretty poor form. Klopp will hope to press the reset button in time for next season, with a smaller, higher quality squad backed up by a fresh crop of players, as his first full season sees him fight on a three domestic fronts. Whereas the Reds had to play a record 63 games this year, Klopp will only have a maximum of 55 to contend next – should the Reds reach both English cup finals, and forced to play replays for all four pre-semifinal rounds of the FA Cup.