In Depth

Klopp shock at Anfield exodus: have Liverpool fans lost the faith?

New manager reacts with dismay as supporters leave early, but says players must make it worthwhile staying to the bitter end

New Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has once again taken issue with the club's fans after an Anfield exodus in the closing stages of the defeat against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Klopp expressed dismay that so many fans walked out on the team after Scott Dann headed Palace into the lead after 82 minutes.

"I felt pretty alone at this moment," said the German manager after a game in which he had several close encounters with his fiery opposite number Alan Pardew.

Yet the Liverpool boss made it clear that it was up to his players to ensure that the fans did not want to leave early. Supporters, he said, "have reasons" to head home, but he wanted his team to play in a way that meant "nobody can leave the stadium a minute before the last whistle because everything can happen".

"Between 82 minutes and 94 you can make eight goals, if you want, but you have to work for it," he said.

But it was a chastening afternoon for the Reds as a "six-game unbeaten run brimming with promise and optimism ground to a halt", says the Liverpool Echo.

"This was a game Liverpool should never have lost. But they ultimately paid the price for familiar failings at both ends of the field."

The Reds failed to convert any of their many chances to go in front after Philippe Coutinho cancelled out Yannick Bolasie's opener. And they were undone by poor defending at a corner as Dann headed the winner.

"This will be seen as the day Jurgen Klopp realised he not only had to rebuild a Liverpool team, but had to have the same galvanising impact on the whole stadium," says Chris Bascombe in the Daily Telegraph.

After Dann's goal, Klopp would have expected "a surge towards the Kop", he says, "the type of which have been described with such finery in all those history books. Instead, the belief was not there from the players, nor in the stands. It has been sapped over recent years. The German looked bemused as the stadium emptied."

Klopp's reaction "held up a mirror to an element of fan culture that was totally alien to him", says Tony Barrett in The Times. Watching fans streaming to the exits with more than ten minutes of playing time left "is anathema to Klopp, who arrives from a culture at Borussia Dortmund where supporter and team are as one".

Klopp can do his part to stop the exodus, but the club's owners must also pull their weight. "Liverpool need to ask what they can do to make Anfield the intimidating arena that their manager wants it to be," says Barrett.

However, as the main stand at Anfield is rebuilt with 4,000 new corporate seats, it appears that the club's owners do not understand the issue facing Liverpool, which is to rediscover "the identity that made it what it was".

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